A small delegation of Brits with Pakistani heritage have completed what organisers say is the country’s first ever all-Muslim trip to Israel.
Funded by the Zionist Federation, the seven-person delegation from the Pakistan Israel Alliance (PIA) visited the Western Wall, joined Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, met Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat in his family village and explored the military service of the Druze community.
Among the delegates was PIA director Noor Dahri, who holds a degree from the IDC Herzliya and self-identifies as a Zionist, but had never been to Israel.
“I just can’t believe I was able to visit Israel,” he said this week. “I never thought it would be able to happen. Growing up I would attend rallies singing ‘death to Israel, death to Jews’ in my home town in Pakistan, and even here in the UK the same. But then I started to really understand what I was saying.”
Dahri, who has been attacked by the Pakistani press as a “Mossad stooge,” said the trip had helped him “understand the different faces of Israel, including the Muslim ones,” adding: “Sometimes it is hard to be a Muslim Zionist in my own community.”
Whilst in Jerusalem, the PIA group attended the Kol Haneshama community and later were hosted by Jerusalem City Councillor Fleur Hassen-Nahoum for a Friday Night Dinner.
ZF chairman Paul Charney said working with the PIA had been “eye-opening,” adding: “We look forward to more opportunities to work with Noor, and others like him, to start engaging with the British Muslim community on Israel, rather than avoiding the elephant in the room”.