Nonie Darwish, the Egyptian-born daughter of a jihad soldier assassinated by Israeli forces in 1956, is “on a mission.”
The founder of Arabs for Israel, and a featured interviewee in the film documentary “Obsession,” Darwish will be in Pittsburgh this week, aiming to expose the dangers and threats of radical Islam from an insider’s perspective.
Courtesy of ZOA-Pittsburgh, Darwish will speak at both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, explaining how hatred of non-Muslims is intrinsic to Islam theology, and that it is that hatred — and not land rights — which is the root of the continuing disputes in the Middle East.
Though indoctrinated from an early age with the hate pervasive in Islamic culture, Darwish said that as an adult, she was able to overcome the lies and extremism of her upbringing to see the truth behind the Arab/Israeli conflict. She now feels compelled to spread the word of that truth, and the dangers all non-Muslims face as a result.
“I see the atrocities against the Jewish people by my people, accusing the whole nation [of Israel] of things we Arabs have done ourselves,” Darwish explained. “The propaganda and the lies. And the cycle, I discovered, is intrinsic in Islamic teaching. This is the problem. It is not a problem over land. Arabs don’t have a shortage of land. The Koran says to kill Jews.”
Darwish, who spent her early childhood years in Gaza, recalled her primary education in a Gaza elementary school.
“I remember I learned hatred for the Jewish people in school, and in my culture as a whole,” she said. “We had to recite jihadist poetry in school, about sacrificing ourselves for the war against Israel, our enemy. The girls had to recite this poetry every day. We used to cry when we recited it because it made us feel like we were victims, and that some bad enemy was coming to kill us. We felt that Israel was a monster, and that the whole world would be destroyed by Jews.”
As a result of being exposed to such constant propaganda, Darwish said, “Terrorism became not just acceptable, but good. Who wouldn’t want to terrorize a monster?”
The education of Arab children was, and is, wholly distorted, Darwish said. “We were taught that Jerusalem was a Muslim city, and that Jews were foreigners who came out of nowhere to take over our culture and our identity. We were never taught the history of the Jewish people or why they were there. They were just invaders.”
Following her father’s assassination when she was 8 years old, Darwish moved with her mother and four siblings back to Egypt where the anti-Jewish propaganda also was pervasive.
“The cartoons showed Jews as monsters, with blood dripping from their mouths. Golda Meir was always shown as a monster woman, holding up Arab babies to kill them. These things were shown all the time. You could not escape it. We really thought that’s how she looked.”
It was not until Darwish was 20 years old and in college that she first realized there was a problem with her culture of hate. While studying one day with a Christian friend, they happened to hear the “usual cursing of the infidels at the end of the sermon” being delivered at the Mosque next door.
“They were cursing, ‘May God destroy the Jews and infidels!’ I looked at my friend’s face and I saw fear. That was the first time I realized there was something wrong with my religion because it hurts other people.”
Darwish eventually married an Egyptian Christian, and moved to the United States in 1978. They settled in California and raised three children. In 2001, right before 9-11, she decided to take her children to visit Egypt.
“It was eye-opening,” she said. “I was shocked. I could see the presence of radical Islam very strongly. I saw anti-Semitism even though Egypt had peace with Israel. There was unemployment, poverty and corruption all over the country. And nothing in their newspapers reflected the problems in the country. Everything was about
jihad, and martyrdom, and propaganda against Israel and America. Even CNN International was biased and unfair in its presentation of Israel and the United States.”
Darwish said that when she returned home from Egypt the night of Sept. 10, she “felt worried for America.”
Waking up the next morning, and watching on television as the second plane hit the World Trade Center, “I knew right away that jihad had come to America,” Darwish said.
In November 2001, Darwish wrote an article about the Islamic culture that led to 9-11. “It was the first time a Muslim-Arab wrote this sort of thing,” she said. Following its publication, she began speaking to audiences around the country. She wrote two books exposing the hate that radical Islam promotes.
She believes it is her responsibility to get the word out.
“I want to expose the roots of Muslim hate against Jews even to Arabs themselves,” Darwish said. “But it’s not just Israel. It’s any non-Muslim country. The hatred is also against the United States and Europe. The Western media is not exposing this at all. [The Muslim Arabs] are constantly saying ‘We’re going to take over the USA, Rome, the UK.’ They are not even hiding it.”
“No one is talking about the theology behind the Israeli/Arab conflict. They are talking about the land, but it’s not about the land. Hatred is the true motivation behind the conflict. If you read the Koran — a good translation that is not watered down — you’ll see there is more mentioning of non-Muslims than Muslims. They (Muslims) are totally obsessed with how do we make non-members, members. This has to be openly discussed, and nobody’s talking about it.”
Chabad on Campus, Chabad of CMU and Panthers for Israel are co-sponsoring the talks.
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)