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Nonie Darwish was born and raised as a Muslim in Cairo, Egypt, and in the Gaza Strip. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology at the American University of Cairo and worked as an editor and translator in Egypt’s Middle East News Agency. She now writes, interprets, and speaks extensively around the U.S. and also internationally to promote peace and mutual respect between Israel and the Arab world. She is the author of "Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror."
Darwish, as the founder of Arabs for Israel, was deemed "too controversial" to speak at Brown University in November of 2006, in part, because since 9/11, she has denounced what she outspokenly labels "a culture of hate." Darwish says, "It took me many years to change, evolve, and realize that I was indoctrinated with a lot of propaganda and outright lies about Israel. I owe my change to America. I appreciated the tolerance, respect for minorities, and equality under the law that America stands for. For the sin of criticizing terrorism — not Islam, just terrorism — we are threatened. Terrorism is like the elephant in the room that no one is supposed to talk about, especially if you are an Arab American. But when 9/11 happened, it was no longer about me or my culture of origin; it is about the safety and security of the country that I now call home, America."
Born in Cairo, Darwish moved to Gaza in the 1950s. Her father, Lt. Gen. Mustafa Hafez, was commander of Egyptian army intelligence in Egyptian-occupied Gaza under Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Hafez was the founder of the fedayeen, militia that carried out guerilla operations against Israel. Darwish’s father was assassinated in 1956, when she was eight years old, in reprisal for two years of intense fedayeen operations that killed some 400 Israelis between 1951 and 1956, and wounded 900 others, both soldiers and civilians. Nasser hailed the slain Hafez as a shahid, or national hero. Darwish attributes her father's death to "the Middle Eastern Islamic culture and the propaganda of hatred taught to children from birth."
This reading of culture and propaganda indirectly led to her championing the cause of women’s rights in Muslim countries. She says, "I also witnessed what happens to the families of martyrs when I saw my mother suffer after my father’s death. My mother had to face life alone with five children in a culture that gave respect only to families headed by a man. Arab women are expected to sacrifice their families by giving up their husbands and sons to martyrdom."
Articles by Nonie Darwish have been published worldwide in The Sunday Telegraph, Maariv, frontpagemag.com, The Jerusalem Post, worldnetdaily.com, and many other publications. She states her mission; it is to "promote reconciliation, acceptance, and understanding" between Israelis and Arabs. Her presentation is co-sponsored by StandWithUs.com, an international educational organization promoting understanding between Israel and its neighbors.
For more details, please contact Dr. Gil Fowler,
associate dean for the Honors College, at (870) 972-2308 or via e-mail
at email@example.com, or visit
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