On October 21st, University of Windsor Jewish Students Association, an Emet for Israel supported organization, hosted Ishmael Khaldi, the first Bedouin Israeli diplomat. During his lecture entitled, “One Man’s story, of Israel’s culture, society & politics, from the perspective of a Bedouin minority, in the Jewish State,” Khaldi discussed his life and career as a Bedouin in Israel. The Canadian Jews News report gave one look into how the event transpired.
Below, we have Ishmael Khaldi providing CAMERA on Campus with his perspective on the event.
In recent years, the case for Israel in the academic sphere, has reached new heights and levels- attracting arguments and coverage from student activities, to the lately growing petitioning for and against Israel from faculty.
In my years of advocating for Israel, I’ve gained many experiences, good and bad alike. I’ve met smart people, wonderful students of all backgrounds and opinions, who came out of curiosity and wanted to learn, to hear the truth about the reality back in Israel and the real facts about the conflict with the Palestinians.
To judge fairly, reality isn’t at its best, especially now, with the turn of events in the last two months. It’s sad for both sides of the conflict, Israelis and Palestinians. However, I can say with confidence that the misconceptions about Israel are a result of media bias, portraying Israel in a negative light, with the absence of balanced news. Those “pro-Palestinian” organizations, who work fiercely to bash and damage Israel’s image all around without ever trying to bring any positive alternative to the table, are the ones responsible for disseminating the inaccurate information to the university students.
I’m not an expert, but I can’t deny what my own eyes have witnessed. Many times I’ve received challenging questions from students who are invested for various reasons in finding a solution to this conflict, including from students of Palestinian decent, and I always listen respectfully, even if I may not agree. But I find it odd when a “mainstream Westerner,” who supposedly cares about bringing peace and reconciliation, can’t find any other way to do so besides staging a walk-out and closing his or her ears to the other side. Those same Western campaigners ignore the horrors in Syria for instance, and they neglect even the needy people in their own neighborhoods! Isn’t that amazingly hypocritical?
Last month, during a private visit to North America, I was invited by members of the Jewish Students Association and CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) to speak at the Law School of Windsor University. Ten minutes into my introduction, a group of 35 pro-Palestinian students, stood up in a protest to walk out, trying to disrupt my presentation. I watched carefully, but quietly. While walking out, equipped by slogans, banners and Palestinian flags, some even tried to hurl insults at me. I wasn’t insulted as this was nothing I hadn’t heard before. Students shouted me down at the Edinburgh university, a professor called, “Death for Israel” while I was speaking me at Kent State University, and years ago, at Langara College, I was compared to “Joseph Gobbles”- the propaganda minister for the Nazi regime.
You may ask why do I consider such an event still a success? Because the 20 or so Arab and Muslim students who attended the lecture stayed. Not only did they stay, but they asked me challenging questions and expressed how those who walked out were clearly not representatives of them.
This has all taught me two things. First, I realized there is a way to reach those who want to listen and exchange ideas of out mutual respect for one another. Second, those who only want to make noise and ruin any form of discourse must be marginalized!
The extremists behind those tumultuous protests are irrelevant in relation to the vast majority of the student population who only want to learn, to understand, far away from empty rhetoric and bigoted bashing. They’re the ones we must invest in, to inform, to educate, to bring close to us—through a dialogue.
I want to commend the CAMERA supported students who respect others’ freedoms, even when/if they ignore yours and for reaching out and cooperating with others.
I’m confident our way will win, just keep up the efforts.
This piece was contributed by Ishmael Khaldi, former Israeli Deputy Consul to San Francisco and a Counselor at the Israel embassy in London.