A Jewish rabbi settler in one of Gaza settlements, who dreamt to establish the Big Israel (one of the principles that Israeli people believe in ) , embraced Islam and converted to call for Islam among the Jews in Israel. The rabbi Yosuf Cohen ,34 years old, is a settler in a settlement in GazaStrip ,and one of Satmar's followers - a mystical Jewish movement .He came to Israel before four years from the USA, and was charmed by the religious movement Shas gleam ,but this charm did not last long. Yosuf Cohen decided to announce his Islam and his family's did too. Thereby, He has moved to live in the Eastern Jerusalem.
former Rabbi Yousif Khatb
former Rabbi Yousif Khatb
Cohen's twisted way began at Karolin Distract where he became one of Satmar's followers. Via mediator , he met his wife Lona Cohen,with whom he got married before 12 years old and they have4 children. He decided to travel to Israel in 1998.So,he and his family arrived directly to the settle mental complex "Gosh gatif" in Gadir settlement in Gaza Strip. Many Zionistic ideas of establishing the Big Israel were in his mind ,but life in Gaza did not suit the circumstances of the newly-comer family, so the family decided to move out later and dwell in "ntitof" –a small city located in the south of Israel . Moreover ,Cohen began to go frequently to the old Jerusalem marketbecause of his work, and for the first time ,he started to communicate with Moslems. At some period, he corresponded with some religious Moslem men and began to read the Holy Quran in English.
However ,Cohen determined to cross all the boundaries, professing his Islam and changing his name to be Yosuf Khatab .In additional to that, his wife changed her name to "Gamar", and their children's names were changed and the children themselves study in an Islamic school ,and speak Arabic fluently while their father is at an advanced stage in learning Arabic. The family moved out to settle in the Al-toor mountain in the western Jerusalem and Khatab works in an Islamic charity organization in the city.
Khatab was not onlycontent with converting to Islam; but also adopted the Islamic stream of fundamentalists " known in Arabic as salfi" and became a promoter for Islam. Moreover, he set up an Islamic center for calling people to Islam ,which embarks vast activities between the Jew to embrace Islam and actually tenth of Jews embraced Islam because of his Islamic activities.
The family of Yousif Khatab
According to Khatab, Hamas movement typifies or represents the right methodological way of Islam, and he assures that the stream to which he belongs is against bombings actions .However, Israeli authorities have tightened up on Khatab since he professed Islam ,and they refused to acknowledge him as a Muslim until he obtained the admittance of the Interior Ministry after so many troubles, and by efforts made by the mediation of Jerusalem Economical and Social Rights Centre .Khatab criticized intensively the members of Shas movement to whom he was affiliated before his Islam, saying "I had come here because of the Rabbi Aofadia Yosif "the spiritual leader of Shas party" and I became Moslem because of him ,too. I had deepappreciation for him, and decided to give his name to my elder son, but I changed his name from "Fodafia" to "Abdullah" after becoming Moslem
Carrying no positive words in his heart , neither about the prime minister 'Ariel Sharon', nor about Israeli people; Khatb says ,"Moslems suffer injustice everywhere ,and Sharon heaps more on them" ,and it is the same for the former Palestinian government ,which did not gain any admiration from Khatab .As for his point of view about the middle east ,he was content with establishing Palestinian country,saying" the first goal is to establish the Palestinian country on the maximum land. Before arriving to Israel,he made up is mind that the religious party "Shas" is the nearest to him and to his beliefs. So , as soon as he arrived ,he joined the party and absorbed in the daily work , gaining many certificates as appreciation of his efforts, and a little by a little he came to a position in which he reached to a decision "I can not bear that anymore. I do not want to be a Jewish any more ".
He adds" this decision did not come hastily or spontaneously. I spent most of my time in correspondence and in logging on different sites on the internet, and during that time I knew a man named 'Zhada', and our relationship deepened. we talked with each other daily; religion was the centre of ourconversation", so he aimed at getting more knowledge about Islam. Day by day, Cohen aspired to get more about Islam , and he was possessed with curiosity. He says," At the beginning, our speech focalized on the philosophy of life, its importance, its beauty, and to which extent the Islamic religion affects man. Thereafter, our relation became deeper, till I realized that Zhada is sheik from the United Arab of Emirates in the Arabian Gulf, and he is conversant in religion". So, Zhada told him that he would phone sheiks in Jerusalem and he could reach them; they, on their parts, would elucidate more about the Islamic religion for him, and the contact will be easier via internet. As a result, Cohen accepted this suggestion after being attracted to this religion and convinced of its teachings. So, he proceeded to Jerusalem sheiks, who succeeded to convince him to abandon the Jewish religion and to embrace Islam.
Yosuf did not hesitate ,notifying his wife his decision .For his wife, she did not entirely oppose him. contrarily, she had the same enthusiasm to embrace Islam. Thereby, they both started to learn more about Islam, and to go deep into it, till they reached to a decision of going to the Legal Court in Jerusalem and register the family as a Moslem family.
Now, he is working on setting up centre for calling for Islam midst the Jewish themselves in Jerusalem in the old market ,near the Borag Wall ,and for enquiring about the Islamic religion, till now the number of people who embraced Islam through the center attained tens .He says that he pursues the course of the prophet Mohamed(Peace be upon him),and follows Ahmed Bin Hanbal school of legislation . Also, he learned the Islamic religion from the books and fatawa( opinions) of Sheikh Authman Bin Abdulaziz Bin Baz, Sheik Naser AL-Deen AL-Albani, Sheik Monthir, and Sheik Gasim AL-Hakee.
When he was asked about being a Jewish Rabbi, who lived in a settlement in Gaza, and suddenly converted to be a Moslem calling for Islam ,what is the reason for that?
He replied, " I lived in Gosh Gatif settlement in Gaza, but now I am hated in Israel, because of my Islam, and the reason of being Moslem is the monotheism of Allah.
Likewise, when he was asked" being a Moslem person ,wearing Islamic clothes , does that bring about problems when you are at state borderor when you in any Israeli office, do not they think that you are Arabian ?
"They were stunned when they saw me, and when they knew that my name is Yosuf Cohen ,they thought I was an Arab appropriating Israeli identity ,so I got exposed to detention for an hour or two hours at the borders check-point – Ghaza Palestinians were allowed in without problem . They just center their attention on me, because of wearing Sunna Moslem clothes. Stealing an Israeli identity for the Israeli border check points means that I am on my way to carry out a terrorist suicide. One time , my son Abdulrahman and I were arrested in the Aqsa Mosque and we have been detained for five hours. During these hours, they nagged me with questions about Islam to make sure that I am Moslem; that happened while I was living in Netfot settlement; they assured that I am Moslem when they let my son Abdulrahman pray in front of them, because they suspected me of being a Moslem . Moreover, I was subjected to arrest for many times, because of being suspected of stealing Israeli identity and of impersonating as a Jewish person who is trying to carry out a military operation in Israel.
Yosuf Cohen with his wife Lona, and his four children :Rah maim Shalom(11 years old), Hasiba(9 years old),Ezra(7 years old), Afoadia (5 years old),converted from the Jewish religion to the Islamic religion. Therefore, Yosuf Cohen and the members of his family has become citizens ,who has espoused Islam. Consequently, they have Arab names which are : Yosuf Mohamed Khatab(the father),Gamar Mohamed Khatab (the mother), Abdulrahman(the elder son),Hasiba ( she keeps the same name), Abulaziz (instead of Ezra), and Abdulrahman (instead of Aofadia).
Yosuf Khatab's decision of espousing along with his family's has provoked ado and cyclone in the Israeli religious assemblies ,especially in Shas party to whom he was belonged; many pressures has been executed upon him to change his mind, but he confronted these pressures forcefully ,and refused to submit. Afterwards, he was compelled to move out to settle in the occupied Eastern Jerusalem.
The source of article: taken from the Palestinian newspaper,"Dunia AL-Watan"