by: Ilse Posselt, BFP News Correspondent
When terror strikes, international leaders, and world bodies are known to come alongside the city, nation or people torn apart by hate-driven violence. For the victims, they pledge sympathy and solidarity; for the perpetrators, scorn and fury. The Temple Mount terror attack on Friday morning, 14 July, was no different.
As the people of Israel reeled in the aftermath of evil, calls of condemnation poured in from across the globe. The US, UN and various others duly registered their horror and disgust. Then, just before sunset signaled the start of Shabbat, another voice joined the chorus of outrage. This voice did not carry the command of nations or the weight of political power, yet it echoed across the Internet nevertheless.
In a video clip posted on Facebook, Yahya Mahamid, a young Arab Israeli man from the same hometown, religion, and background as the Temple Mount terrorists, decried the “path of violence” his Arab brethren had chosen. He also had a bone to pick with the Arab members of Knesset, all of whom remained mum following the murders. With nobody from his community denouncing the bloodshed, Mahamid chose to stand in the gap. Squinting into the setting sun, he declared, “Now I say, I condemn what happened totally.”
Throughout the weekend, more than a quarter of a million people watched Mahamid’s message. Not all of them liked what he had to say. Comments left in Arabic branded him as everything from a “traitor” to a cowardly “dog.” Yet the brave young man appeared unfazed. This is not the first time Mahamid has taken a stand for Israel.
From Anti-Israel to a Zionist Arab
Mahamid identifies himself as a proud Zionist Muslim Arab. Part of his job with Stand With Us, an organization dedicated to education about Israel, entails exposing anti-Israel libels by sharing with global audiences the truth of why the Promised Land is “the best country in the world for Arab Muslims.”
Mahamid was not always an Israel advocate. Born in Umm al-Fahm, Israel’s third largest Arab town, Mahamid was raised on a diet of anti-Israel indoctrination peddled by extremist leaders. “I believed those lies,” he shares in a Stand With Us video, “that Israeli Arabs are always the victim. I was taught to hate Israel. But I overcame the hatred.”
The change of heart did not happen overnight. Aged 18, a frightened Mahamid left home to work in a Tel Aviv hotel. For the first time, the young Arab Israeli encountered those he believed to be his Jewish oppressors. Yet to his astonishment, the people from whom he expected hate, offered acceptance and friendship instead.
The turning point came in 2014, when terrorists kidnapped three Israeli teenagers. The realization that the victims could have been his friends prompted Mahamid to speak out—and inadvertently launched him on a path of advocacy. Participating in an online campaign, Mahamid posted a picture of himself holding an Israeli flag. Within moments, his post had garnered 400 notifications, including numerous death threats.
A lot has happened in the three years since the Zionist Muslim Arab took a stand for the first time. The young man who once hated Israel is now one of the Jewish state’s most ardent spokespeople. “I am a proud Israeli,” he told the South African Jewish Report. “Whenever anti-Israel people spread lies, like that Israel is an ‘Apartheid’ state, they use my name… to destroy the only place I call home.”
SOURCE: Bridges for Peace