Sophia Khalifa, an engineer, working on AI at Amazon AWS, has a story we need to hear. Sophia is a muslim Bedouin Arab,  born and raised in Israel. In Sophia’s culture and community,  girls traditionally do not receive an education, but Israeli policies mandating schooling for all children, changed her entire life. Sophia graduated from Tel Aviv University with a BS in Electrical Engineering, moved to the US, worked as an engineer for Intel, received her MBA from Stanford, and started working at Amazon leading trust and safety for generative AI. SInce October 7, Sophia’s life changed again when she added activism to areas where she excels. 


Sophia says, “ ​​if ​Israel ​was ​not ​established, ​I ​probably ​would ​be, ​ ​illiterate, ​married ​to ​my ​cousin ​and ​herding ​sheep, ​somewhere ​in ​Galilee. ​Because ​that ​was ​ ​generation ​after ​generation. ​That’s ​the ​culture ​that ​we ​had ​but ​Israel ​actually ​up ​leveled ​the ​field ​for ​the ​Arabs. ​And ​if ​you ​look ​at ​the ​number ​of ​like ​20% ​of ​the ​population ​of ​citizens ​and ​the ​population ​in ​Israel ​are ​Arabs. ​Most ​of ​them ​are ​Muslims. ​ And ​in ​universities ​today, ​the ​percent ​of ​Arabs ​pursuing ​bachelor ​degree ​is ​20%, ​same ​as ​their ​percent ​of ​the ​population.”


As a muslim Arab who grew up in Israel straddling two cultures, Sophia speaks from first hand experience about the  cultural divisions in Israel. In our conversation, Sophia dispels the damaging lies against Israel as an apartheid state guilty of genocide and oppressing Arabs. Sophia breaks down how each of these lies is absurdly false and how the repulsive jew hatred that is poisoning our society and hijacking the social justice movement should concern all of us. Sophia tells us that the real problem is not Israel vs Hamas, it is the western world vs. radical Islam. 


Sophia emphasizes the importance of identifying Islamist antisemitism, and the need for honest conversation about this global threat. Sophia says, “​The ​second ​part ​of ​the ​medina ​and ​the ​jihad ​is ​actually ​a ​political ​movement ​ ​that ​has ideology, ​and ​all ​ideologies ​have ​some ​utopia ​of ​what ​the ​society ​should ​be. ​And ​according ​to ​the ​islamist utopia  ​is ​you ​should ​have ​the ​Sharia ​law. ​All ​should ​be ​abiding ​by ​the ​Sharia ​law. ​You’re ​either ​muslim ​or ​you’re an ​infidel. ​And ​if ​you’re ​infidel, ​you ​don’t ​deserve ​to ​live. ​So ​we ​really ​need ​to ​understand ​what’s ​happening ​here.”


When we talked about those who try to attack Sophia’s honesty  because her experience doesn’t match up with the story they believe about Israel, Sophia had wise words, “first ​they ​try ​to ​spread ​lies. ​ ​And ​then ​when ​you’re ​able ​to ​fight ​against ​it ​because ​you’re ​sharing ​the ​facts, ​the ​truth, ​then ​they ​try ​to ​discredit ​you.”


Must Read Quotes from this episode:

“​​And ​then ​I ​think ​that ​as ​long ​as ​you’re ​using ​this ​social ​justice ​language, ​you ​are ​kind ​of ​like ​protected, ​you ​are ​righteous,  ​and ​then ​that ​gives ​you ​the ​legitimacy ​to ​say ​anything. ​But ​no ​one ​comes ​and ​tries ​to ​question ​what ​you’re ​saying. And ​what ​is ​happening ​is ​that ​we ​have ​the, ​•, ​islamist, ​anti ​Semitism. ​And ​I’m ​not ​saying ​Muslim. ​I’m ​saying ​islamist, ​extreme ​Islam, ​antisemitism ​that ​is ​exploiting ​that ​language ​and ​using ​that”

“​They ​try ​to ​be ​for ​the ​oppressed, ​for ​women’s ​rights, ​for ​LGBTQ ​rights ​and ​all ​that they’re ​trying ​to ​be ​on ​the ​right ​side ​of ​history. So ​they ​hear ​that ​social ​justice ​lingo ​about ​like, ​ah, ​genocide, ​colonialism, ​white ​supremacy  Which ​is ​like, ​if ​you ​went ​to ​Israel, ​you ​would ​laugh ​to ​think ​that ​this ​is ​like ​white ​supremacy. ​You ​cannot ​tell ​the ​difference ​between ​a ​Jew ​and ​Arab ​in ​Israel.”

“But ​all ​of ​a ​sudden, ​your ​teacher, ​someone ​that ​you ​look ​up ​to, ​come ​to ​you ​and ​tells ​you ​you ​don’t ​have a ​future. ​ ​I ​felt ​like ​so ​helpless ​in ​those ​moments. ​But ​then ​luckily, ​I ​have ​this ​critical ​thinking ​that ​today ​is ​missing ​from ​our ​college ​students a​nd  ​I ​saw ​that ​my ​experience ​with ​the ​jewish ​people ​is ​different. ​It’s ​not ​what ​he’s ​saying. ​So ​he ​probably ​doesn’t ​know ​what ​he’s ​talking ​about, ​or ​maybe ​he ​knows, ​but ​he’s ​like ​lying ​to ​us. ​And ​I ​just, ​just ​ignored ​it.”

“The hate to the Jews is more important and stronger than the love for their own future.”

“We need to understand that this is the thing that is going to take our liberty, in the name of being liberal or tolerating other people.”

“The problem here, it’s not Israel versus Palestine. It’s really about extreme Islam, who is trying to take power and control all over the world.”

“I stand for my truth, and I don’t care what people think about it.”


(00:00) Sophia is grateful that Israel made education mandatory for all children

(05:55) People are using this word to label Israel as an apartheid state

(08:34) I think that antisemitism is not something that ever disappeared

(17:57) Sophia: Americans have a lack of understanding of fundamentalism

(19:37) Sophia’s growing up in Israel

(25:21) Sophia’s experiences in Israel on 9/11 happened

(29:25) A turning point for Sopha when your friend told you she wanted to a suicide bomber

(57:29) Arab Israelis support of a two state solution

(01:00:37) Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005

(01:03:19) Everyone should be united against Hamas

(01:05:31) First step in solving problem is being explicit about what the problem is


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