General Antisemitism

I’m a Pro-Israel Muslim: So Why did UJS Ban Me?

This was written by Kasim Hafeez, and originally published at Harry’s Place. 

In a previous life I was anti-Semitic and an angry anti-Israeli activist.

Fortunately for me, I learnt the facts and now campaign proudly for Israel.

Given this and the fact I promote the moderate voice of British Muslims, you would assume that I could be a strong ally of the UJS.

You’d be wrong.

It was in fact StandWithUs UK who approached me to do a nationwide campus speaking tour, as a follow-up from their ‘Moderate Voices from the Middle East’ series.

Appearances were booked all over the country, including at J-Socs as well as with other student groups. However, as the events drew near, it became clear that Dan Sheldon, the UJS Campaigns Director, wasn’t happy with the tour and was determined to see it cancelled.

Why? I had spoken out against their controversial ‘Liberation’ campaign, but I was hardly the only one, and surely in democratic societies we are free to express our opinions and legitimate criticisms. Could the UJS not agree to disagree and move on instead of pursuing a personal vendetta with someone who is willing to do so much for a cause the UJS putatively supports? To this day, not one person from the UJS has contacted me to explain why they felt my presence would be detrimental to the welfare of the students they are supposed to represent.  At the very least, this should have been a decision for the J-Socs, free from pressure.

The irony of these statements of support for the cancelling of Brooke Goldstein is not lost on me. As they laud their support for the independence of each J-Soc to make decisions for the welfare of their campus community, why then was the UJS threatening this ‘independence’ by pressuring J-Soc and Israel Soc leaders to uninvite me?

The offending email from UJS to the student societies opined: 

“In our judgment Kasim going onto campus will do more damage than good. While Kasim has a perfectly legitimate view, him doing a speaker tour at this time is very controversial and could potentially backfire on the J-Socs, exacerbating tensions and disrupting interfaith relations. We are concerned that he will stir up unnecessary anti-Israel & anti-Jewish sentiment among several hostile groups on campus. It might be interesting and enthuse a handful of students but it could not come at a worse time.”

At this point, a number of messages from individuals at J-socs emerged. One such text message read:

‘Hey, I’m sorry to have to tell you this but j-soc cannot host kasim. I have heard he has spoken badly of UJS and its campaign director and for this reason j-soc cannot host him. I do hope kasim will be able to speak at our university. I personally am very interested in what he has to say, but this will need to be independent of j-soc.’

Despite this, I received constant support from StandWithUs; the reactions from students – both Jewish and non-Jewish – was amazing and I believe it was an overwhelming success. Some students even travelled to other cities to hear my talk. This opposition by UJS was disheartening and upsetting, but ultimately we were able to do what was right for Israel on campus. I have since joined the StandWithUs UK Advisory Board and I am looking forward to working with them and indeed with the rest of the proudly pro-Israel community in Britain. Following the tour’s success, I have been invited to speak all over Britain, and even overseas.

My hope now is that under new leadership the UJS will be able to cast aside such petulance and embrace voices like mine and those of truly pro-Israel organisations. Let’s move away from these petty rivalries and territorial behaviour and realise that in order to be a truly powerful force for good, we must be united.

People such as Brooke Goldstein and I are putting ourselves forward, at no small risk, to reach out to others for Israel’s benefit, and yet both of us have been treated with contempt.  Before I and others like me become any more disillusioned, I ask you: don’t push us away; embrace us.

Kasim Hafeez recently completed a nationwide speaking tour in the UK entitled ‘The Day I Stopped Hating Israel’. He sits on the Advisory Board of StandWithUs UK. This is a longer version of a letter from Kasim which published in the Jewish Chronicle.

13 replies »

  1. Dear Kasim,
    Thank you for the good and moral work you are doing. Don’t get discourage. There are millions out here on you side.

  2. Why don’t you do a tour of mosques here and see how that goes first. It isn’t Jews you need to talk to, but muslims. Let us know how it goes.

    • That’s a pathetic response silverdog. If you read what Kasim said, he was invited to speak on a tour and he had a right to do so. UJS appeared not only to have declined to let him speak, but to have attacked him personally. That is simply not good conduct and should be looked into. The same applies to Brooke Goldstein. What has that got to do with speaking in Mosques? There is a problem among Jews too, and anyone who identifies an issue has and should speak out against it.

      It’s very important to understand the mentality of someone who hates Israel, from someone who used to. It was self-realisation that made Kasim understand that carrying so much hate, with so very little cause was just so unhealthy for the spirit and mind. That is the only means to combat this pernicious disease. The battle lines in argument are entrenched very deeply in the consciousness of those who oppose Israel. There are 2 definitions for every word to do with Israel, one of them usually neutral and the other, a pejorative complete opposite.

      It is,in many cases a discussion beyond argument, but even the most entrenched can move positively forward when the right definitions are restored. Jews can succumb to the same trashy history if not corrected – even intelligent ones.

      • I believe that Kasim is brave and well intentioned but he is preaching to the choir by talking to Jews and Christians who are only too aware of what Islam is capable of in regard to them. For that reason silverdog does have a point, however inelegantly he may have put it.

        Intelligent Jews and Christians and others are also aware that the mosque congregations lack Kasim’s courage. The UJS should be thinking hard how they can help him and others like him and should have given him a platform. Their behaviour towards him is beneath contempt. I am ashamed of it.

  3. KH……….You spoke out about their ‘Liberation’ campaign,a definite no no. These people love to criticize but hate being criticized.

    They won’t put their heads or hands up,too scared that it will get slapped down……KH…..Don’t lose spirit.Keep at it…….Good Luck…….

    BTW..I admire your perseverance and courage………..

  4. This guy sounds like a useful idiot for the apologists for Israeli occupation, injustice & brutality. I hope he wakes up and realises what a fool he is being played for.

    • Why of course anyone not ascribing to the narrative that you see as being truthful must be brainwashed and a useful idiot. How ironic that Kasim Hafeez discussed this point in his talk I went to. I think you should change your name from mostly harmless, to mostly useless as your points hold no validity and you regurgitate the same drivel at every opportunity

      • Moistly is, of course, projecting.

        Being a card holding useful idiot for murderous Islamism himself, he is quick to accuse others who threaten his very tenuous position which is unsupported by hard facts.

  5. What exactly has Kasim Hafeez done to annoy the UJS leaders – and how would his talk allegedly be “exacerbating tensions and disrupting interfaith relations”?

  6. This can’t be berchmans. He writes in joined up sentences, but whether he is or not it proves that neither has an original idea or argument between them, cityca

  7. There is a real problem with the current leadership of the UJS. If they can turn away people like Kasim Hafeez and Brooke Goldstein, the UJS have lost their way.