Every few years, one Israel Lobby group or another identifies, recruits, grooms and promotes a new Muslim Zionist whom they can trot around to their events to show donors that not only is Zionist exceptionalism swell, but Muslims agree too.
It reminds me of the passage from the Book of Numbers, in which the famed seer, Balam is hired by Balak, the King of Moab to curse the Children of Israel. As he’s en route to their campground, riding on his donkey, the animal spies an angel in his path. Though Balam strikes him, the donkey refuses to move; at which point the animal begins speaking to him and telling him what an ass he is. The angel then appears to the seer, telling him he may only pronounce the words the angels directs him to speak.
The King meets Balam at the appointed mountaintop, and waits for the curse he’d expected. Instead, the seer sings the praises of the Children of Israel. Balak is none too happy and sends his failed hireling home in shame. By the way, the Moabites were one of several pre-Israelite tribes exterminated by the Israelites in their conquest of their new land.
These Muslim Zionists are like the hireling, Balam. In the eyes of the Israel Lobby, they somehow see through the anti-Semitic propaganda they were fed as babies and see some sort of revelation which sets them on the proper road to understand the wonders of Zionism. It’s all quite magical and wondrous if you believe in such pablum.
The problem is that all of these guys are fraudsters. Either they themselves are engaged in fraud, or the organizations which promote them are. Often times both are true. For example, Walid Shoebat once claimed he was a PLO terrorist who bombed an Israeli bank. Only problem: he wasn’t a terrorist, there was no bomb. In fact, he was an evangelical Christian who milked his infamous terror bio turning it into a lucrative career as a speaker before Jewish communal gatherings.
Muntasir (“Mark”) Halawa is another such fraud. The settler NGO, AIsh HaTorah dredged this guy up from a Canadian university, where he claimed he’d turned himself from a life of drugs and crime into an Orthodox Jew. In the meantime, he also concocted a back story that was truly genius. His grandmother was supposedly a Jerusalem Jew who married a Jordanian soldier and lived a life of a hidden Jew in a Muslim family. Conveniently, Orthodox Judaism defines religious identity based on the matrilineal line. So presto-change-o, Halawa transformed himself into a Jew. That offered something even more sexy than Shoebat’s story. Halawa could tout himself as a Muslim who was really a Jew and eventually came to see the light.
Aish has exploited Halawa just as Shoebat was exploited. He travels everywhere to anyone who will have him (for a fee) expounding the wonders of Israel, Judaism and Zionism. It’s both pathetic and astonishing that there are Jewish audiences taken in by this dog and pony show.
Let’s not forget the Green Prince of Hamas, Mosab Yousef, who turned his life as a Palestinian informer into a major book and documentary along with his Shabak handler. Though much of his life probably is fictionalized, at least we know he was indeed a son of Hamas co-founder, Hassan Yousef, and that he did indeed betray his people by becoming a Shabak spy. Like all the others, he transformed his betrayal into quite a lucrative second act.
Now, into the mix comes the latest Muslim Zionist sensation, Hussein Aboubakr. He appears to have abandoned his blog in 2016. But it does offer a broader picture of his life, fictional or otherwise. His back story too is simply marvelous, and its been touted in pro-Israel publications for the past few years at the behest of StandWithUs. This pro-Israel advocacy group, which I’ve proven here is an agent of the Israeli government, has adopted Aboubakr as its pet poodle Muslim. It trots him out to fundraising events where the audience oohs and aahs over his encomiums to the wonderful Zionists he has met.
Here is a bit of puffery from a former Israeli MK in the Jerusalem Post is touchingly titled, My New Muslim Friend:
Born in 1989 to a traditional, middle-class Muslim family in Cairo, Hussein…was taught…by his parents, in the mosque, in school and via television: “The Muslims are superior to all, with the best values, ethics, traditions and heritage. Anything in the world which is not a direct product of theirs is inferior. Western culture is the infidel, but the super villains are the Jews who are the incarnation and epitome of evil, who seek to destroy all that is good in the world.
These ‘Zionist pigs’ who control the banks, the media and all politics enjoy drinking Muslim blood from the Muslim children they kill. They are the descendants of apes and pigs, and the final redemption will come when we kill all Jews.”
Hussein…recalls how the movies of his childhood were filled with Jewish villains who were stopped by the good Egyptians. The No. 1 comic book character was “Man of the Impossible,” who went around the world destroying Zionist conspiracies. These stories – filled with mythology and fantasy – were captivating for young children, and Hussein took them for granted as truth.
All Egyptian children dreamed of playing their role in this epic battle of good versus evil. Obsessed with the super-villain Jews, Hussein also wanted to contribute to winning this war, so he decided to use his smarts and love for computers toward this end. He resolved to study Hebrew via the Internet, and to then infiltrate these evil plans and provide logistical support to the physical war against the Jews and Israel.
After Hussein learned Hebrew, he began doing research about the Jewish people, and was completely shocked by Jewish history: Here was an ancient Middle Eastern nation indigenous to the Land of Israel, with an ancient connection to Jerusalem. Hussein began to see Jews as people and began reading about the history of antisemitism, which he calls “blind hatred toward the Jews for no reason.”
And then Hussein took a step back, looked as his parents and society around him and asked himself: “Isn’t this antisemitism? Isn’t this blind hatred?”
This led to his rethinking the entire Islamic culture, and reanalyzing other things that he had previously taken for granted: that women are inferior, and that Egypt’s 10 million Christians should be oppressed. Hussein became horrified by “everyone around me telling me pure nonsense.” But feeling that everyone was wrong and he was the only one who was right led him to think that perhaps he was crazy: “How could all the imams, teachers, parents and television shows be all wrong?” Hussein became depressed and barely left his room.
ONE LINE from George Orwell’s 1984 changed Hussein’s life: “You are never crazy even if you are a minority of one.” This gave him the courage to enroll in a local university, where he took Hebrew language and literature courses. But his excitement dissipated quickly when he heard professors promoting the same lies he was taught as a child, with additional “facts” such as the Bible proving that Jews are pathological murderers and that the Holocaust was a Zionist conspiracy.
During his third year of university, Hussein’s intellectual curiosity made him desperate to find resources about Hebrew, the Jews and Israel. He struck gold when he found out about the Israeli Academic Center attached to the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. The center was filled with Hebrew novels, newspapers and even comic books, and Hussein photocopied as much as he could. As he left the building, a state security officer approached and interrogated him for 15 minutes on what he was doing there and why he was talking to Jews. Hussein explained that he was a student in the Hebrew department who wanted to know what “Israeli pigs” say about Egyptians, but the officer confiscated all the material.
A week later, Hussein accepted an invitation to attend an event at the center, but received a call from state security moments later. They threatened to torture him, and told him to promise to stop studying Hebrew and talking to Jews. Hussein promised, but then hung up even more determined. He wrote a blog about his experiences, which led to an Israeli journalist interviewing him for a story that appeared in an Israeli newspaper.
Hussein and his father were arrested two days later, and Hussein was lectured for his treason and reminded about the evils of “the pigs.” The two men were released, but the experience led to Hussein telling his family – including his brother who was training to be an imam – about his beliefs. He was expelled from his family, and with nothing to lose he began blogging about his criticism of antisemitism and the mistreatment of women and Christians in the Muslim world. This led to numerous arrests, which ultimately led to painful physical torture for being a “Jew-lover,” a “Zionist spy” and an “apostate traitor.”
Hussein became active in the Tahrir Square protests in January 2011, and when the Muslim Brotherhood took over he was sent to a concentration camp. He managed to gain release after a few weeks, hid in a Christian monastery, and then fled and received political asylum in the US.
Hussein now teaches Hebrew in California and advocates for Israel. In his words: “Israel is a small nation that rode from the darkest moment of human history – genocide, persecution, and annihilation. This gives us all hope that humans can survive darkness and thrive and be safe in their own home. In Israel, no one will be tortured for writing a blog, and no one will be imprisoned for simply writing their ideas. Israel gives hope that the Middle East can have Western, moral values with human rights, liberty and freedom.”
I have begun asking Egyptians I know if they can verify any of the claims Aboubakr makes in this narrative. A friend tells me a search for his name in Arabic yields nothing. How can someone who claims he completed a college degree at a major Egyptian university have no online presence? In his bio, he claims he is an “assistant professor of Hebrew” at the Defense Languages Institute. There is no listing anywhere on the internet that connects him to DLI except his own claim. Since it doesn’t appear that DLI lists its faculty by name on its website, it’s possible he is affiliated with it. But I’m doubtful.
Here is another claim he makes about his childhood terrorist exploits:
“When I was about 12 years old and during the second intifada…we would come up with ideas like having consecutive suicide bombings in the same location, or sneaking into a soccer game crowd,” Mansour says at a StandWithUs speaking engagement taped by Jewish Life Television.
First of all, 12 year olds don’t come up with innovative terrorism tactics. Second, Egyptians would be even less likely of ‘inventing’ these terror methods on behalf of the Palestinians. Third, I’m aware of no terror attacks in Israel which targeted soccer matches.
After studying and debunking similar back stories of Shoebat and Halawa, this one strikes me as equally preposterous. Most of the claims he makes can’t be verified by anyone. It’s simply his word. Note that he claims his family disowned him after he revealed his love for Zion. This is especially convenient because if, as happened in Halawa’s case, the family does reveal the truth behind Aboubakr’s miraculous conversion and it’s unflattering, he can always explain it away by saying his family hates him for abandoning Islam. Since he provides no means to document his claims, it would be a mistake to grant them any credibility. He has a tremendous financial motive to make up this preposterous story and SWU has an equal motivation to promote him as its “Great Muslim Hope” to its own audience.
All of which means, that Aboubakr is another in a long line of frauds perpetrated by SWU and the Israel Lobby on behalf of Israel. An earlier example of this was Hen Mazzig, who worked as a SWU staffer here in Seattle. His claim to fame was that he was a “Gay Arab Jew.” That sure covered a lot of ethnic and gender bases in order to score points in the propaganda war for Israel. In truth, he was a propagandist exploiting various identities for political gain.
I bring all this up because the Northwest chapter of StandWithUs is ‘blessing’ us with an appearance by Aboubakr, where we can hear him ‘testify’ on behalf of the Chosen People. Buy your tickets early because this sucker may sell out!
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.