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Lebanese Canadian citizen Fred Maroun in an interview with Newsdesk Israel explains why he as an Arab Christian is opposed to Jews who support the BDS Movement.
Fred Maroun Photo Credit: Channel 2 News
Meet Fred Maroun, a Christian Arab who was born in Lebanon and moved to Canada at the age of 23, after 10 years of civil war. In this special interview with Newsdesk Israel, Maroun explains what he thinks of the Jews who support the boycott Israel movement.
He says that all his life, he supported equal rights for minorities and vulnerable groups, including women, LGBT, etc., and always considered Israel a liberal model for the Arab world. In an article published last week in the Times of Israel, Maroun wrote, ” My heart lives in Israel, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in an office building in Haifa, or on a bus in the busy streets of Tel Aviv. As long as Israel must fight for the right to exist, my heart will live in Israel”.
You write a lot in support of Israel. When did you start to understand that Israel is not the enemy?
Fred M: “Although I have not always been strongly pro-Israel, I was never anti-Israel. I have always been liberal-minded, and even when I lived in Lebanon, even though I knew little about Israel’s history, I saw Israel as a liberal model to the Arab world. About twenty years ago, I started reading about Israel’s history, and my admiration for Israel grew. The book that had the greatest impression on me was “The Case for Israel” by Alan Dershowitz.”
You wrote against the Jews who collaborate with BDS organizations. What do you think of them?
Fred M: “I think that a growing number of Jews in the United States, Canada, and other Western countries are supporting anti-Zionist movements such as BDS for several reasons. They do not understand the Arab mindset. People living in the West think in rational terms, and they think that if the Arabs have not accepted peace with Israel, it must be because Israel has not offered a reasonable deal. They do not understand that the Arab attitude towards Israel is not rational, it is not based on a cost-benefit analysis, and it is governed by an irrational hatred.
They (Jews who support BDS) want to fit in. The West is increasingly anti-Israel, especially on university campuses, and Jews, particularly young Jews, want to adopt the prevailing attitudes and not be seen as outsiders. They do not see Jews as threatened. When they look around them, particularly in North America, they do not see discrimination against Jews (like their parents and especially their grandparents did), so the concept that Israel is needed as a haven for Jews is a difficult concept for them to understand.
They do not see Israel as threatened. They see that Israel has never lost a war and is the dominant military power in the Middle East. They do not take the threats against Israel seriously, even from a nuclear Iran. They think that the threats are not credible and that Israel is exaggerating them in order to gain support. They do not know or do not accept as relevant the fact that Jews were expelled from Arab countries, and that Israel began building settlements only after most Arabs rejected the partition plan.”
What do you think about the fact that the world blames Israel most of the time?
Fred M: “There is a combination of factors that explain why much of the world blames Israel. One big factor is anti-Semitism which has not disappeared but has disguised itself as anti-Zionism. But even among people who are not anti-Semitic, there is little support for Israel because people have a short attention span. They see Israel as strong and the Palestinians as weak, and they have little understanding of the factors that created the conflict and that keep it going. Also all the factors that I mentioned in response to the previous question apply to non-Jews even more strongly than they apply to Jews. Jews at least have some understanding of Jewish history in the Middle East, but non-Jews tend to see Jews as Western imperialists.”
Many Israelis are beginning to recognize you and appreciate you. Do you have a message for them?
Fred M: “I worry for Israel. I think that Israel needs a stronger government who can provide strong leadership towards permanent borders and an end to having to govern the Palestinians (which the world sees as an occupation). This is the only way that Israel can weaken the anti-Israel movement. I don’t know what the solution is, and I don’t believe that anyone outside Israel can provide that solution. The leadership must come from Israel. I hope the centrist parties, the moderate right and moderate left can form a coalition government to take bold steps into the future.”
Note: This interview was originally published in Hebrew on April 26, 2016 and it is reproduced here with permission from Newsdesk Israel.