Muslim Bedouin IDF Veteran: Wrong, Embarrassing for Jews to Spread Lies About Israel
An Arab IDF veteran who participated in a pro-Israel event at Columbia University last month told The Algemeiner on Tuesday why he lashed out at a Jewish student on campus who said he was “not proud” of the Jewish state.
Mohammad Kabiya, a University of Haifa political science major and commander in the Israeli Air Force, whose sharp exchange with his peer about Israel’s moral standing has been circulating on social media, explained, “It is so wrong, and embarrassing, for a Jew to spread such lies about the one Jewish state in the world.”
“Israel is not perfect but it’s far from how these people are describing it,” Kabiya – a Bedouin Muslim — said in Hebrew, referring to the crowds participating in “Israeli Apartheid Week” (IAW) events. Criticism of the Israeli government and policies is legitimate, he added, “but it’s like when I fight with my brother; the whole world doesn’t need to know about it.”
Kabiya, who had been invited to Columbia by the school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) as part of “Hebrew Liberation Week” – a counter-demonstration to IAW – has been serving as an informal spokesman for the Jewish state and his community’s proud role in its defense.
“Israel is my state and I need to protect it,” he said emphatically.
SSI president Rudy Rochman told The Algemeiner that Kabiya gives a voice and face to minority groups in Israel that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement neither acknowledges nor talks about.
“Many students didn’t even know there were such things as Israeli Arabs and were shocked to meet Mohammad and hear his story,” Rochman said. “They thought Israel was a country made up of only Jews. They had no idea that about 20% of the population is Arab.”
Kabiya — well-known in Israel for his efforts on behalf of public diplomacy — called the efforts of groups like SSI “holy work,” and encouraged Jewish students “to stand up for themselves.”
“You cannot fear people who just scream lies,” he said. “We have to support those who are responding to these disgusting things being said about Israel.”
According to a report released Tuesday by campus watchdog group AMCHA Initiative, Columbia experienced the highest overall antisemitic activity last year among more than 100 US schools studied — a finding that the university has said is unwarranted.
Watch footage of Kabiya’s exchange with a Jewish Columbia student below: