Sunday, March 08, 2009

Matt 24 Watch, 79: An Israeli, Muslim, Bedouin Arab Vice Consul speaks out on "Israel Apartheid Week"

The above title may seem a bit surprising to two groups of people:
(i) those who may either have not heard of the current wave of 'Zionism = Racism = Apartheid" rhetoric, or

(ii) those who may naively believe this now increasingly stressed theme of the post-Colonialist narrative on the Middle East.
So, thanks to an alert reader, I link and excerpt from an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle, datelined March 4th 2009, by Vice Consul Ishmael Khaldi of Israel. In key parts it reads:
. . . My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master's degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli - along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose - educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay's rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation - Israel's minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East . . . .

If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.

This partly biographical introduction and summary is vital in a day and age where debate by life story is far too often rhetorically decisive.

(We are at that sad pass as a dying civilisation living out of Romans 1 and Eph 4:17 - 19, where far too many no longer recognise that the evident and material truth and valid or cogent reasoning connected to the truth are the core of a good argument. So, unless an emotional connection is made, too many ears will simply not be inclinded to listen, much less then take time to carefully reflect.)

Having introduced himself and hinted at the key issues, Mr Khaldi also raises several rather pointed questions directed to "organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology."


If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric . . . .

Do Israel's Arab citizens suffer from disadvantage? You better believe it. Do African Americans 10 minutes from the Berkeley campus suffer from disadvantage - you better believe it, too. So should we launch a Berkeley Apartheid Week, or should we seek real ways to better our societies and make opportunity more available . . . .

Your radicalism is undermining the forces for peace in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. We are working hard to move toward a peace agreement that recognizes the legitimate rights of both Israel and the Palestinian people, and you are tearing down by falsely vilifying one side . . .

Strong words, but people of good will who want to move towards real, sustainable peace in the Middle East need to reflect on them.

For, this, too, is a part of the multi-sided, multi-perspective story.

So, let us pause and hear this side, then go on to objectively evaluate the overall situation, reckoning with the light sed by this view by a moderate Muslim who just happens to be not only a proud Israeli, but also a vice Consul of Israel. END

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