With the rise in anti-Israel (anti-Semitic) activities capturing more headlines in recent years, especially on college campuses, Christians United For Israel is combating the trend with a new program that has been part of the Progressive playbook for nearly a generation.
CUFI, the largest pro-Israel organization in the country, has developed a diversity outreach program geared toward millennials and minorities, especially on college campuses and within churches.
“Israel is multicultural, multiracial, diverse and tolerant. This truth is the most powerful antidote to the apartheid lie. We’re devoted to aggressively disseminating this truth to everyone. Thus we’ve assembled a team as diverse as Israel itself,” explained David Brog, CUFI’s executive director. “We’re targeting everyone, but placing a special emphasis on millennials because they are being aggressively targeted with the anti-Israel lies. And we’re also very purposeful about reaching out to African-Americans and Hispanics since they are also being targeted with this Israel-as-settler-Europeans myth.”
Brog, who is Jewish, takes great pride in the team he has assembled.
“Non-Jewish supporters of Israel — especially Zionists of color — challenge all of the false stereotypes about Israel and her supporters simply by showing up. They can change the debate about Israel because students actually listen to them. That’s why CUFI – a pro-Israel movement as racially and religiously diverse as Israel itself – is uniquely positioned to turn the tide against BDS (the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel).”
Supporters of Israel have accused the anti-Israel crowd of resorting to bullying and intimidation. News reports from schools such as DePaul, Temple and numerous University of California campuses corroborate this charge. Anti-Israel rallies have clearly crossed the line into the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism.
“The BDS folks know well how to confront, bully and intimidate typical pro-Israel activists. They are used to it, and they seem to enjoy it. When our team shows up, they are literally speechless. None of their racist lies or deceptive talking points pass the laugh test when CUFI is in town,” explained Brog.
CUFI’s diversity team is spearheaded by Kasim Hafeez.
Born in Great Britain to a Muslim family of Pakistani descent, Hafeez’s father believed “Hitler was a great man whose one mistake was that he did not kill enough Jews.” Raised to believe Jews and Israel are evil, Hafeez planned to dedicate his life to Jihad. The writings of Alan Dershowitz, coupled with time spent in Israel, opened his mind to “the truth.”
Hafeez, who describes himself as a “Muslim Zionist,” told the Salomon Center that “the media portrays Israel solely as a Jewish issue—and clearly it’s not. Israel is a bipartisan American Issue transcending race, religion, and ethnicity. It’s about freedom, it’s about democracy, it’s about fundamental values. And for me, that is the message we must get out.”
When asked about the program’s goals for 2015, Hafeez said, “This is the year we start winning! For too long the pro-Israel movement has been reactive. On campuses throughout the world, people put Israel on trial with ridiculous accusations like Israel is an apartheid state. If you’ve been to Israel you know that is rubbish. But instead of being proactive in defending Israel, we typically play the defensive position. This is the year we take the offensive, get the truth out there, and start winning.”
Dumisani Washington is an African-American pastor who serves as CUFI’s Diversity Outreach Coordinator. He describes his role as bringing “the message of CUFI and pro-Israel activism to African-American, African, Latino, Asian, Native-American and Pacific Island pastors and Christians throughout the U.S.” He believes support for Israel should be “as ethnically diverse as this nation,” a sentiment echoed by CUFI National Campus Coordinator, David Walker, an African-American millennial.
While it is widely believed that support for Israel in the African-American community is deteriorating, Pastor Washington’s experience indicates that CUFI may already be having an impact.
“I’m not sure I agree that African-American support for Israel – among the community, as opposed to some of its leadership – is eroding,” Washington said. “Black Americans as a group remain the most religious in our country. In my role with CUFI I talk to Black pastors all over the country; and support for Israel is as strong as it ever was in our history. In fact, many pastors ask what more they can do as they see the Black-Jewish relationship attacked in Washington, D.C. and in the media.”
The CUFI diversity program is more than people of different faith, races and ethnic backgrounds showing up to a religious or public venue or college campus to advocate for the Jewish state. Their message embraces the “social justice” mantra of the Progressive Left.
“My consistent message to college students is that the language of Zionism is the language of social justice,” explained Washington. “I assure them that any true Christian Zionist is concerned not only with Israel’s peace and security but also with the plight of Palestinians, who have been victimized by their leadership — the same way Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was.”
Washington continued, “On campus we focus on the true oppressors of the Palestinians — Hamas and Fatah. As for Israel, I’ll quote Arab award-winning journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who cites Fatah’s Hatem Abdel Kader as ‘admitting that Israel is doing more for these Palestinians than the Palestinian leadership and the entire Arab and Islamic countries.’ ”