When Kasim Kaz Hafeez last visited Israel, he told a group of students at Ben-Gurion University that there are Pakistani refugees who suffer way more than Palestinian refugees yet the world does almost nothing to help them. This demonstrates the hypocrisy of the international community. Kasim asserted that this group includes internally displaced people who were forced to flee their homes because of fighting between the Pakistani Army and the Pakistani Taliban, as well as Stranded Pakistanis “from the Bihar region that sided with West Pakistan and who got stuck in East Pakistan, when it became Bangladesh in the 1971 war.”
He declared, “These people lived with no rights and have lived in camps since 1971 and the UN does not recognize them as refugees and is not addressing their plight, and the Pakistani government has acknowledged them but has said they do not have the means to absorb such a huge volume of refugees into Pakistan. These people live in pretty much abject poverty. […] We can talk about so many refugee issues, Darfur or even the Palestinians fleeing Assad’s butchery in Syria. No one is saying the Palestinians live in luxury but it is not the humanitarian catastrophe you are seeing in some parts of the world like parts of Pakistan, yet there is no coverage at all about that.”
Kasim believes that the Palestinian refugee issue is being exploited in order to harm Israel and thus is exacerbated by the international community. He claimed, “From the very start, from Israel’s independence, there has been a premeditated campaign to ensure there is a continuing Palestinian refugee ‘situation.’ Firstly, it’s an open sore that can be used to prod at Israel by the Arab states who deny Palestinians citizenship and UNWRA are instrumental maintaining this situation and secondly it’s another form of warfare in destroying Israel. […] The whole situation does not serve Palestinians or Israelis, or the cause of peace; it serves the agenda of the corrupt dictators of the Arab League and their allies.”
When I asked Kasim what he had to say about the fact that the UN Commission on the Status of Women condemned Israel in 2012 yet not countries like Iran and Syria, Kasim replied, “It’s not the occupation that prevents Saudi women from driving. It’s not the occupation which causes the continual violence and rapes in Pakistan. It’s not the occupation which puts Sudanese women at risk of violence for wearing ‘western clothing.’ The UN is like an old men’s club and whoever has the most friends can get anything passed, and there’s one Jewish state and a lot of Muslim states that are hostile to Israel and have the most abhorrent human rights records, yet Israel is reserved for mention. Also look we live in a world where people don’t want to upset the rich Arab states. We do so much trade with them that we look the other way while they deny rights to 50% of their population, yet we have issue when Israel builds in their capital city.”
Kasim is also ideologically opposed to the division of Jerusalem between Israel and a potential future Palestinian state. He asserted, “If Israel ever withdrew to the 1967 armistice line, I would never forgive them. Jerusalem must remain undivided as the capital of Israel. When I visited Jerusalem what I loved was that I could experience three major faiths which are practicing freely; I know that can only happen under Israeli sovereignty. We know what radical Islam does. Lets for a second forget the destruction of the Buddha’s in Bamiyan, the systematic eradication of Christians in Pakistan and the pogroms against the Jews in the Middle East. Let’s look at the new Libya, the destruction of century old Sufi shrines, the attacks on Sufi and Shia mosques killing scores of innocent worshippers in Pakistan, the wholesale destruction of Islamic history by the Saudi regime and Hamas firing rockets at Jerusalem during the recent conflict. The day radical Islamists control the Old City is the day no religious site, including Muslim sites are safe.”
Regarding a potential solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kasim believes that the decision regarding how best to proceed on this has to be made by Israelis, since they will be the ones to live with the consequences. However, he did state that he does not believe that the creation of a Palestinian state will bring peace to the Middle East. He asserted, “Both parties, Hamas or Fatah, are still promoting hatred, poisoning future generations to hate, and these kids aren’t going to grow up wanting peace, because all they’ve been told on media and in school is drive the Jews in to the sea.”
He continued, “The withdrawal from Gaza has brought conflict and terror not peace, so what Israeli government in their right mind would withdraw from Judea and Samaria? I’m open to how the future pans out, I honestly don’t know, but here are some musts: the state of Israel must remain a Jewish democratic state, […] Jerusalem must not be divided and remain under Israel sovereignty and we cannot reward terror with territorial concessions.” Thus, given the present reality, he believes that Mudar Zahran’s idea of creating a Palestinian state in Jordan “may be the innovative thinking we need,” but he is also convinced that creating a Palestinian state won’t create peace so long as Palestinians idealize destroying Israel over gaining self determination.
By Rachel Avraham