web analytics
November 25, 2014 / 3 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Israeli Bedouin: American Jewish Apathy Shocks Me


Two years ago, a few proud Bedouin Israeli citizens like myself asked: what is our position and status in the State of Israel in the midst of its current situation? After all, Bedouins are part of Israel’s success story. During current times, when Israel is being attacked and accused of being a racist state, an ‘aggressor and an oppressor,’ we decided that the smallest and probably most effective thing we could do is to spread our story as part of Israeli society.

I, Ishmael Khaldi, am Israeli. I served with the IDF, with the Israel police, and with the Israeli Defense Ministry. In the last year, I have lost two Bedouin friends on army duty (God bless their memory) defending the State of Israel. My friends and family feel that we have a common destiny with the Jewish people in Israel: our grandparents created this land with Jewish immigrants who arrived during the 1920′s, 30′s and 40′s to build a democracy. 

Because of this connection to the State of Israel, I cannot stand on the sidelines during Israel’s time of need. I feel that I must speak up and be heard.

I recently returned from a two-month campus speaking tour in North America, mostly organized by Hasbara Fellowships. This was the fourth tour I had done over the past year. I’ve traveled the United States coast to coast (of course, being a Bedouin nomad, I mainly took Greyhound!) and flew for a ten-day tour across Canada.

The tour was certainly miraculous - a Bedouin shepherd who had never been to any major city before, all of sudden found himself in downtown Manhattan! It proved to be one of the most adventurous, challenging and enriching experiences of my life. 

I came to the U.S. and Canada to speak on college campuses about Israel, as one who certainly holds a perspective that is rarely heard – a proud Israeli who is not Jewish. I came to share one man’s tale of Israel’s culture, society and politics from the perspective of a Bedouin minority in the Jewish State.

Arriving in North America, committed to defending Israel from the poisonous venom of hatred and attacks that I had heard much about, I expected to see the same commitment on campuses among the Jewish students. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. 

I had heard much about the struggle of pro-Israel student activists, attempting to counter the unbalanced, biased and false accusations made against Israel. I had not come to North America to preach that Israel was perfect. As all Israelis know, Israel has problems like all nations of the world. Still, many students tried to stop me from speaking. There were even students who had the audacity to compare me to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, making false claims that I was doing the same for Israel.

The United States has always been described as being the ‘land of the free’ and a home for free speech. How can New Hampshire’s slogan read ‘Live free or die’ if the student union is allowed to ban me from telling a cultural story? I can’t believe that the hatred for Israel is so strong that student governments are able to defy their own dignity as free American citizens, in order that the truth about Israel should remain a secret.

The deep-seated hatred manifested itself clearly throughout the country with the many loaded questions asked by anti-Israel students. For example, a Muslim student at Rutgers University completely ignored the fact that Israel is a free state and asked, “How could you support a Hebrew state if you’re not Jewish?” Another questioner asked, “Don’t you think that if Israel didn’t exist, then the Palestinians wouldn’t have any problems?” 

In Milwaukee I was asked, “How many Palestinian old men and women have you humiliated while serving in the Israeli police?” How can such a question be asked? If only the truth were known, that Israeli soldiers have on many occasions helped Palestinians.

The situation I encountered on many of the campuses in North America and Canada was horrifying. I was not as shocked by the Arab questioners as I was with the personal threats – and the severe apathy of the majority of Jewish students.

In my years of speaking to people, I’ve never received threats or personal attacks like I did speaking on campuses. There were threatening incidents at both the University of Florida and at California State University. Both were chilling. The crowd in Florida was one full of anger and hatred, yet I had to stand before them unsure of the enemy who had sent threats earlier that day. In California I spoke facing a young student who wore a T-shirt with a swastika on it and chewed on a piece of paper as some sort of protest against my talk.

Even more upsetting, I expected to see many more Jewish students aware of the situation in Israel, but that wasn’t the case. I expected the Jewish students to realize that the situation was not only affecting Israel and Israelis, but Jews all over the world. 

On the other hand, the Arab students and their supporters knew almost all the last minute news clips from the Middle East. How can Israel’s voice be heard if the Jewish students don’t have the facts or the knowledge to speak up? I don’t take the mass of Jewish students to task for not agreeing with all of Israel’s policies, but I do take them to task for not caring about Israel or what happens there. It is the apathy which allows the anti-Israel propaganda to strengthen itself more and more over time.

As a personal aside, sixty years after the horrors of the Holocaust, Israel is going through one of the most critical times in its history. More than sixty years after my grandparents joined their destiny to that of the Jews coming to the Land of Israel, I feel that history is somehow moving backwards. Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel is soaring. Comparing me, a Muslim Bedouin who supports Israel, to the Nazis is just another clear piece of evidence.

And yet, six decades after the horrors of the Holocaust, I felt that on campus, the Jewish voice is silent. Where are the Jewish students fighting back? My commitment in these crucial days, while Israel is struggling for its right to exist, is to continue the heritage of my grandparents and to stand together to fight for the State of Israel.

History will not tolerate us if we keep our voice silent. We must roll up our sleeves once again to build a better future for Israel and all of its loyal citizens. Israel’s right to exist is my right and my people’s right, just as Israel’s destiny is our destiny.

But just as history demands for me to fight for Israel, history will not tolerate a generation of Jews who don’t care. 

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Israeli Bedouin: American Jewish Apathy Shocks Me”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Police protect MK Feiglin from Arabs on Temple Mount.
Police Chief: Think of 1 Billion Muslims and Don’t Pray on Temple Mount
Latest Indepth Stories
Red Line Obama

“What’s a line between friends?”

West_Bank_&_Gaza_Map_2007_(Settlements)

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

Thousands of rabbis pose in front of Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters in Brooklyn on Sunday during the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries.

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

Arabs create opening for terrorists to walk the security wall between Ramallah and Jerusalem and Ramallah.

The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

More Articles from Ishmael Khaldi

As all Israelis know, Israel has problems like all nations of the world. Still, many students tried to stop me from speaking.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israeli-bedouin-american-jewish-apathy-shocks-me/2004/11/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: