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Sophia Khalifa: My Life in Israel as an Arab Muslim

2024-01-10 (264)

"Israel gave me everything.” As an Arab Muslim growing up in Israel, Sophia witnessed firsthand the way non-Jews are treated: with respect, dignity, and full rights. Her life is proof that Arabs and Jews can live peacefully side by side. Why should everyday Americans care about the atrocities committed by Hamas? Sophia warns that if we turn a blind eye, the West will be next.

Video Transcription:

Israel gave me everything I'm the

product of peace between Jews and Arabs

and how Jews and Arabs can live

peacefully side by side together

as brothers and sisters

my name is Sophia Salma Khalifa

and this is my story

I'm a Muslim Arab growing up in

Israel I'm a mother of two and I have a

masters from Stanford University I was

born to a Muslim family in Israel my mom

is a single mom I have eight siblings my

dad has two wives in parallel and my

mom decided she didn't want to live with

his wife in the same house and didn't

want to be in that Village and she went

and moved to Naharia this is the Jewish

town in northern Israel where she raised

us nine children on her own we were

supported by the welfare in Israel by

the welfare system because otherwise my

mom would not be able to to provide

Israel is a very beautiful and strong multiethnic

democracy around 20% of the population

are Arab Muslims like myself we also

have Christian Arabs we have

Drews the Arab citizens of Israel

receive equal rights they get welfare

they get education they get health care

they get all the rights the protection

anything that a Jewish citizen would get


my Muslim teacher used to teach us

everything about the Jews who stole the

land he would be teaching us that we

would never be able to become anything

in this country because this is the

Jewish country and the Jewish people

would not allow you to become an

engineer they would not allow you to

become doctor you cannot be anything and

we will have to resist we would have to

fight we would have to do do everything

that we can to get the land back

I remember

leaving these classes feeling like I

don't have a

future but that really contradicted my

experience with the Jewish people that I

met because they were loving they were

kind I was their friend I would go to

their houses they didn't mind that I was

Arab they didn't see me as an Arab they

see me just as their friend so it didn't

let stand very well with me I was with

my girlfriend she was staring and I was

asking like what are you thinking about

and she said like you know I really wish

one day to become a suicide bomber

I really wish to become a Shahed one day


that moment really broke me to pieces

on the school break between 8th

grade and 9th grade in the summer I

was discovered by a fashion photographer

that sounds really exciting I

I should try that but I knew that this is

a choice of no return I cannot step my

foot in the village if I'm a model

I travel to Europe for work and I spend a

lot of my time in Tel Aviv

my uncle, my mother's brother

he threatened to cut off my head

for dishonoring the family

and he obviously could not do

that because we live in Israel and

Israel protects women when he said that

to my mom she told him you won't even

touch a hair on her head I felt so

empowered by her and I wanted to send

this message to all the Arab girls that

you can be anything that you want you

can pursue any path that you want

it's very important to note that Israel

pulled out of Gaza completely

unilaterally in

2005 they uprooted all the Jewish

citizens who used to live in

Gaza all of

them all of them were taken out

forcefully after 2005 there was no Jew

alive or dead in Gaza they even take

out the graves of the Jewish

people because they didn't know what is

going to happen to the graves and this

was a test case to see how a

self-governing Gaza would look like

Gaza is a very fertile land they had green

houses that they used to export flowers

to all of Europe

and the Hope in Israel was that

we're hoping that Gaza can become the

Singapore of the Middle East this tiny

country that has this very good economy

with all the green houses and they have

the most beautiful beaches in the

region and they can go and fish they can

build we're going to help them in Tech

this is our path for peace days after

the Jews you know left Gaza

Hamas went and burned out all the

green houses they burned everything to

the ground because this was the Jews

green houses before

if people care about Muslim lives

or any Palestinian lives

in Gaza you first and foremost

want to make sure

that their leadership cares about them

and Hamas is a sovereign government

of Gaza it's a terror organization

that hijacked the Palestinian people

for their own religious cause of

transforming the Middle East and the

entire world into an Islamic State

Palestinians don't have the right to say

the truth they cannot openly speak about

the atrocities that Hamas is doing to

them if they speak against it they are

dead people keep saying if you're

calling Hamas a terror organization this

is islamophobia no this is not

islamophobia this is the fact I love

Muslim people that's I'm a Muslim my

family is Muslim and I'm still

condemning what Hamas did

why people cannot see the truth

about this situation a lot of these

people come from a reality that they

teach you from a very young age to hate

the Jews the Jews stole the lands to the

Palestinian the Jews are responsible for

all the atrocities in the world and we

just need to destroy them so some

of the people are brainwashed and

they're sometimes blinded to their own

anti-Semitism they say I'm not

anti-semitic I'm anti-zionist now what

does that mean it's like saying I'm for

women but I don't think they should have

rights because Zionism mean that you

believe in the Jewish people right to

have a state where they're safe and free

from persecution right so how can you

stand for the Jews

and not wanting them to be able to

defend themselves and the other side I

think it's like a herd of sheep who are

just like following whatever sound good

to them and they think that Hamas is the

weak part Israel is strong and thus we

need to support the weak the weak could

be a terror organization

and they're not that weak

after after we saw what they were able

to do on October 7th

the everyday American should care

about this because the West is going to

be next Israel is just the first

some of the countries the Arab countries or

let's take for example

Iran calls Israel the small devil and

America is a big devil

is this what we want to suppor in

this country I hear a lot of people

calling Israel an Aparthaite State maybe

let's start with explaining what is an

aparthaite, it's a

discrimination based on race Arabs in

Israel who constitute 20% of the Israeli

population they're equal citizens

they're getting all the rights from

Israel they have Education, Health Care

welfare, full rights, full protection, they

equal citizens for everything. where is the apartheid?

I'm very proud in being Arab

I'm very proud about being Muslim but

all I needed as a child as a human being

to realize my full potential was give me

the security the safety the education

give me the opportunity Israel gave me

everything I'm the product of peace

between Jews and Arabs and how Jews and

Arabs can live peacefully side by side

together as brothers and sisters as an

Arab Muslim it's very important for me

to speak out about these topics to

support Israel you have to speak the

truth you have to stand with Justice I

know the truth people who didn't live in

Israel don't know the truth and we need to fix it

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