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August 8, 2014

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 8, 2014 as a American Islamic Forum for Democracy Zuhdi Jasser, founder and president of the American Is- lamic Forum for Democracy. By Maayan Jaffe Jews around the world were inspired last month when Arab-Israeli teenager Mohammad Zoabi cloaked himself in an Israeli flag and spoke into a bedroom video camera, "I am an Israeli and will remain an Israeli. Israel will remain a Jewish and a democratic country." What few realized is that within days after the video went viral, Israeli police ar- rested three men in his own family for plotting to cause him harm in retaliation for the piece. His cousin, Arab Knesset member Hanin Zo- abi, called her young cousin "a sleazy, mixed-up kid who has identity issues." Still, more voices like the young Zoabi's have emerged in the month since the kidnapping of three Israeli teens and the weeks since the launch of Operation Protective Edge. Young Bis- san Salman, an Israeli Arab from Ramla, blogged on July 23 that she refuses to choose between her Arab and Israeli friends. "My tears choose the side of peace," she wrote. "We are tired to hear about more : killings. We are tired to run every time we the sirens... Don't judge, pray. Pray for this to be over." Butas the operation wages on and the rockets continue to plummet on the state of Israel, these young voices are lost. But there is another voice, a growing one, that is bubbling above the surface. That voice has little to do with Israel and everything to do with fighting Hamas. It is the voice of Arabs--Mus- lims, really--calling on their peers to fight the inexorable advance of political Islamism over Islam. Dr. Qanta Ahmed, author of "Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom," told while the media focuses on the war in Israel, similar wars are being waged across the world. Islamism, she said, is the driving force between Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and Iraqi government forces, be- tween the Pakistani Taliban and the Pakistani Army, the Afghan Taliban and would- be Afghan democratic lead- ers, Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists and the Nigerian government, and between Jama'at A1-Nursa rebels and the Syrian regime. "Muslim militaries are not held to global condemnation in the way the Israel Defense Forces must face--despite their targeted attacks, pre- strike warning and efforts to contain civilian deaths," said Ahmed. Dr. Zuhdi Jasser--founder and president of the Amer- ican Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), which works to provide a platform for Muslim Americans who advocate for liberty, freedom, and the separation of mosque and state--expressed simi- lar sentiments. AIFD has brought together a group of dozens of U.S. Islamic groups to the form the American Islamic Leadership Coalition. To be a member, agencies have to sign on to a list of 17 principles. The last of the principles is recognition of the state of Israel. "I don't believe Israel is a religious issue for Muslims," Jasser told "Hamas and other radical Islamic groups have propagandized the issues for decades and the latest conflict demonstrates that. It is constant warmon- gering. Hamas creates, starts these wars, commits acts of terror, and then uses the war as a platform to say all its grievances are Israel's fault." Jasser said that while he hopes Israel deals a heavy blow to Hamas, he does not believe the war will have any long-term impact because the war is not about Israel, but rather"about Hamas and their corrupt ideology." "You can compare it to drug addiction, which leads to violence," he said. "Well, if you say the problem is the violence and you stop the violence, it won't work. It is the drug addiction that leads to the violence. We believe the gateway drug here is political Islam." Jasser's group tries to stay quiet on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict because he does not want to feed the international belief system that if that crisis was solved, it would be the solution to global terrorism. "As a Syrian, I can tell you, nothing is further from the truth. [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad displaced and killed hundreds of thou- sands of people and Israel had nothing to do with it," he said. Tawfik Hamid is a former member of the Jamal Islami- yah terrorist organization. Thirty years ago, he broke from its grip to move to the U.S. and begin a fight against radical Islam. Recently, he founded the Inter.national Center for Countering Radi- calism (IC4CR.or~e told he believes r'~dical- ism needs to be ought on multiple fronts. First, he said, more acces- sible modern and peaceful interpretations of the Quran are needed. Next, accurate information is required; hate, said Hamid, is often based on misinformation that is being taught Islamic schools and mosques. Additionally, Hamid said, theworld should use behavior modification techniques, like having "more negative rein- forcements to stop them from doing terror acts." Terrorist organizations deprive their followers of anything beautiful, such as color, art, music, fashion, etc. Over time, Hamid explained, the followers become unable to appreciate beauty, and this makes them more receptive to "extremely ugly things." "It is like if someone destroys the receptors on their tongue, they cannot distinguish between good and bad tasting things," said Ha- mid. "This is what happens. We need to reintroduce the beauty." Ahmed, Hamid, and Jasser said they are frustrated by the international media, which offers sensational sound bites and ignores the full picture. "Many people look at what is happening in Gaza as if Israel is the aggressor. But when you think deeply, Egypt offered a cease-fire and Israel immediately accepted it. It was supposed to start on July 5 at 9 a.m. Hamas refused the cease-fire. The full responsibility for any killings after July 5 lies with Hamas," Hamid said. He added that Hamas ac- cuses Israel of ethnic cleans- Tawfik Hamid, a former member of the Jamal lslami- yah terrorist organization, broke from its grip to move to the U.S. and begin a fght against radical Islam. ing of Muslims, and the U.S. of being anti-Islam. But he said what is not reported is the number of mosques that exist in both Israel and America. "If this was the case, if they were anti-Islam, why would they allow these mosques and Islamic schools to be built? Compare the numbers to the synagogues and churches in the Muslim world--there, these places are being de- stroyed," said Hamid, who noted that anti-Semitism in the Arab world has been on the rise over the past decade. Jasser suggested that anti- Semitism might be as high as 90 percent among Arab nations. Peace on page 15A lner was evan By Cnaan Liphshiz AMSTERDAM (JTA)--A few hours before he departed Amsterdam for Australia on July 17, Ithamar Avnon was praying for peace with his parents at their home in the Netherlands. That evening, pro-Russian separatists shot down Avnon's flight, MalaysiaAirlines Flight 17, over eastern Ukraine, kill- ing all 298 passengers and crew. Avnon, 26, was the sole Israeli national on board. The son of a Dutchwoman and an Israeli who became a Christian evangelist, Avnon loved peace because of how well he and his family knew war. His father, Dov, served for three years in the Israel De- fense Forces before moving to the Netherlands in the 1970s. His older brother, Jonathan, was an Israeli paratrooper. Following his brother's lead, Avnon voluntarily joined the paratroopers and fought with that unit in the 2009 Cast Lead operation in Gaza. Friends and family say Brad Goldberger Sales Consultant Cell: 407-697-8060 TOYOTA Central Florida Toyota - Scion 11020 S. Orange Blossom Trail Orlando, FL 32837 407-472-5200 Please call to schedule an appointment for a no-nonsense & hassle-free Sales experience No games, No pressure that Avnon, who was born in the Netherlands in 1988, was a fun-loving man with a penchant for buffoonery who was looking forward to completing his international business degree at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. "Ithamar liked horsing around, he wasn't a stern guy," his mother, Jeannet, told JTA."I never thought Ithamar would join the army, but he was inspired to do it by his brother. Ithamar completed the training and got that red beret." One of his former com- manders, Shlomi Biton, said Avnon--Ito, to his friends-- was a forgetful soldier who would often lose pieces of gear, including that red beret, just moments after receiving it. Avnon got away with it be- cause ofhowwell-liked he was by his peers and commanders. "I really loved Ithamar," Biton wrote on a Facebook page in Avnon's memory. "I wanted to be the one to give Ithamar the beret--and then another one after he lost the first one, which was typical." Dov Avnon moved to Hol- land after meeting Dutch Christians in Eilat in the 1970s. Even as an ex-Jewish Christian living in Holland, Dov Avnon and his wife raised their children with a love of the Jewish state. After Avnon's death, Dov wrote on Facebook: "I am happy thathe grew upwith the bible and the faith that Christ died for him on the cross." Avnon had been in the Netherlands to attend the wedding of his sister, Ruth, who learned of the flight's demise on the radio. "I knew immediately that it was my little brother's flight and it felt as though I was sinking and the world around me was falling apart," Ruth Avnon said. In their home near Utrecht, Avnon's parents were waiting last week for a Dutch forensics team to finish identifying the remains of the dead in the hope of recovering their son's body. Though the final remains found at the crash site ar- rived in Holland last week, the search is ongoing. Full identification of the victims could take months and it's not yet clear whether all the bod- ies have been recovered. Dov has little hope of recovering his son's remains, since he was sitting close to the engine. "It's a strange sort of mourning because we have no body," Jeannet said. "I'm afraid that when and if a body is recovered, we would need to mourn all over again." Avnon had a knack for comedy and impersonations and had a face he would make by puckering his lips. "We called it the Berrie face," Jeannet said. His thespian skills also helped him at work, accord- ing to Nata Sapuga, Avnon's former boss at a recycling company. During a business trip to India, Avnon got an upset stomach and had to run to the bathroom every few minutes while working at a business fair. "He would tell visitors to his booth, 'Excuse me, sir, but i just figured out that I need to exchange a few urgent words with my biggest buyer, who just passed by,'" Spuga recalled. Holland lost 194 of its citi- zens on board MH17, prompt- ing the government to declare a day of mourning--the first in a century. The national out- pouring of grief has provided some consolation to Avnon's parents. "We are consoled by the feeling of a community, by the respect the Netherlands is showing to all victims," Jeannet said. "It dulls the pain, as did the powerful speech of our foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, at the United Nations." In that speech, Timmer- mans condemned pro-Rus- sian separatists for delaying access to the bodies and urged delegates to imagine theywere parents of the victims "and then two or three days later see some thug steal theirwedding ring from their remains." Western leaders also criti- cized Russian President Vladi- mir Putin, accusing him of Shai Penn Eisenman lthamar Avnon, the sole Israeli national aboard the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, pictured in Jeru- salem in 2008. supplying the separatists with the weapons used to bring down the plane and for fail- ing to expedite the return of the bodies. Dov Avnon wrote Putin a scathing letter, accus- ing him of harboring "people who have lost all humanity." On Wednesday, Dov was at the ceremony in Eindhoven Airport, where the first bod- ies were returned. Organizers had placed a flag for every na- tion that lost civilians in the crash, including Israel. "I know that flag is espe- cially for Ithamar," DovAvnon said. "I am proud to be an Israeli and a Dutch citizen and grateful for this treatment."