Gabriella Tripolsky, Co On-Campus Education VP for Tritons for Israel
Last Tuesday, October 5, 2010, Tritons For Israel and CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) brought Bedouin-Israeli diplomat Ishmael Khaldi to share his personal account of his journey from being a Bedouin shepherd in northern Israel to the world’s first Bedouin-Israeli diplomat.
He spoke to a mixed crowd of students and faculty, both Jews and non-Jews, about the status of peace negotiations between Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Khaldi began by telling his story of living in Israel as a Muslim-Bedouin. Although he embodies a mixture of multiple cultures, he proudly stated, “I’m Israeli above anything.”
Bedouins are desert nomads that belong to a tribal society. They are known for their gracious hospitality and strong commitments to each fellow tribesman and outside guest. Bedouins are also Muslims by religion and are members of the Arab world.
Today, Bedouins are part of the Israeli-Arab minority group, which makes up 20 percent of the Israeli population. As the Bedouin community still observes its traditional lifestyle, Israel is contributing to their gradual transition into modernity by embracing diversity in the state.
In his book, titled A Shepherd’s Journey, he writes, “Bedouin tradition makes no differentiation between people – all are equal regardless of their social status” (12). Israel shares these values and grants equal opportunities to all its citizens, regardless of skin color, religion or background, acting as the vehicle that brought Khaldi to success. Ishmael Khaldi’s story represents Israel – a thriving multicultural and multilingual society that embodies freedom, equality and democracy.
One of the key messages the audience left with that evening was of Israel’s unique moral values that bring people from the river, desert, mountains and sea together into a democratic, diverse and open society.
This diversity is epitomized by the fact that a Bedouin-Arab-Israeli-Muslim is a diplomat representing the Jewish State of Israel in the international community. This fact alone demonstrates that Israeli society is not only for Jews, but for all cultures and religions, and Ishmael Khaldi is a vital part of that society.
Khaldi, Ishmael. A Shepherd’s Journey: the Story of Israel’s First Bedoin Diplomat. Israel: Ishmael Khaldi., 2010. Print.