Nonie Darwish, who was raised in the Gaza Strip, moved to Egypt after her father, who lead the fedayeen guerilla operations against Israel, was assassinated by the Israel Defense Forces in 1956 and then moved to United States, is a freelance writer, public speaker and interpreter.
The Muslim Majority Must Break Its Silence
by Nonie Darwish (from Huffington Post)
Arabs today are at a critical crossroads. They must decide whether to live in a constant state of war and terror or to denounce their own terrorists. Terrorists are working to prevent moderate Arabs from making the right choice. Terrorist groups rely on a tribal culture and the sympathies and emotions of the Arab street whenever they get into trouble. Hezbollah, Hamas and Al Qaeda get recruits and support only by provoking hostilities with Israel and other parts of the world, and creating crises wherever they can.
Hamas's and Hezbollah's unprovoked attacks on Israel from the two areas Israel withdrew from -- and no longer occupies -- illustrates how this happens. Israel responded and two weeks later we all saw the particularly horrifying images from Qana, Lebanon on our television screens. But responsibility for this terrible tragedy must be laid at the feet of the people who deliberately hide among civilians in order to fire rockets and missiles at Israeli civilians. Hezbollah and its supporters are responsible for those deaths. Only the Jihadists benefit from the deaths of innocent civilians benefit, not Israel.
Despite initially blaming Hezbollah, the Arab street's sympathies have now shifted to Hezbollah. Terror groups count on that support. People in the West do not understand why the silent Muslim majority stays silent. The reason can be found in the old Arab saying, "My brother and I against our cousin, but my cousin and I against a stranger." Supporting fellow Muslims, right or wrong, is a fundamental cultural obligation among Arab society, which is tribal Arab radicals exploit this powerful cultural motivation time and time again.
I was a child in Gaza in the 1950's, when Gaza was in Egyptian hands. Gaza's infrastructure and economy were neglected while the land became a launching pad for terror attacks on Israel. Fifty years later, the two areas evacuated by Israel - Gaza last year and Lebanon six years ago -- are used for the same purpose, and everything is being sacrificed by Arabs in order to kill Jews. The hatred of Jews by Arabs in the areas surrounding Israel is more important than a mother's love for her children.
In 1955, an intifada broke out in Gaza. But it was not against Israel; it was against the oppressive rule of Egypt's President Nasser. To divert attention from this uprising, the Egyptian government intensified the fedayeen operations against Israel under the command of my father, Lt. Colonel Mustafa Hafez. Israel's defense against the fedayeen, including their killing my father, ended the intifada. This pattern of Arabs increasing terror attacks against Israel as a way of dealing with threats to their governments continues until today. The fedayeen of the 1950's became the model for today's terror organizations.
However, it is time for the Arab street to get smart. The terror groups' have distracted Arabs from solving their real human challenges while bringing them humiliating defeats. Arabs must join the world community and turn away from self-destructive patterns and tribal obligations. They must come to understand there is more pride in protecting their homes, families and society than in having fake pride by supporting reckless terror groups and attacks against Israel. Otherwise, Arab society is doomed to destruction, terror and despair.
Every moderate Muslim must be appalled by the likes of Hezbollah, which means the party of Allah. Hezbollah is desecrating God's name and is destroying the lives of Muslim men for a promise of heaven with 72 virgins. Religious leadership has failed Muslim young men, who must be taught that they are needed right here on earth to help make it a better place.
We Arabs must abandon this obsession to destroy Israel and tend to more important issues, such as honor killing of Muslim girls, stoning of Muslim women, killing and torturing of gays, amputation of limbs of criminals, female genital mutilation, the murder of apostates who leave Islam, polygamy and its devastating effects on family relations, and the imprisonment of Arab reformists and writers and cutting the tongues of those who speak out. We must speak out against the self-anointed and hateful Ayatollahs and Sheikhs who incite violence, rage and anger from the pulpits of mosques. They are condemning the beautiful Middle East society to a permanent condition of war, terror and jihad.
No longer do we want to hear our religious leaders proudly curse non-Muslim infidels and Jews in Friday prayer sermons, calling them "apes and pigs" and "enemies of God." We are all God's creation. The Arab street must not sympathize with Hezbollah. The silent Muslim majority must abandon its silence and "dark-age mentality." We must join the 21 st century's civilization.