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Some ignorant individuals regularly call Israel an apartheid state.  Few have lived in Israel.  In today's diary, I'll quote extensively from one of Israel's Bedouin citizens.  Bedouins are Arabs.  They're Muslims.  If born on the other side of a border, they might be Jordanian or Saudi Arabian or Palestinian.  But Ishmael Khaldi isn't Jordanian or Saudi Arabian or Palestinian.  He's an Israel Bedouin.

I'd encourage each of you to drop the rhetoric fed to you by your particular affiliation, and instead listen to Ishmael's beautiful words below the fold.  But first, a note on Ishmael's bio:

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.

But this ain't any old former shepherd who got a masters.  He's now the Deputy Counsel General for the Pacific Northwest.  And he's got some important things to say.

Now, even a broken clock strikes two twice a day.  Given that Israel just has to be an apartheid state (because people on say so every day) Ishmael must be bitter and angry, willing to fight against oppression and the horrors of apartheid.  Nope.  Instead, Ishmael says,

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

Wait a second... I thought some ISM rabble rousers know exactly how oppression works in Israel.  What about speaking truth to power?  To them, and specifically to those who have organized Israel Apartheid Week, Ishmael doesn't hide his feelings.  He says,

You are part of the problem, not part of the solution: If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric. We need moderate people to come together in good faith to help find the path to relieve the human suffering on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Vilification and false labeling is a blind alley that is unjust and takes us nowhere.

 Well, I can't say I'm so understanding to those who vilify Israel.  But with all of the perspectives on dailykos, this is a perspective that needs to be more often heard.  Now, Ishmael doesn't hide his head in the sand about how Israel's Arabs are treated--despite his high level of achievement.  He just wants the criticism to be fair, stating to those who call Israel an apartheid state, "Your criticism is willfully hypocritical: 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."  

He leaves with one final eloquent note to those working against Israel:

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.

Thank you, Ishmael.  For showing us such a much needed perspective on how Israel treats its citizenry.  The entire piece is worth a read, so I'll link to the entire piece again:

Originally posted to oldskooldem on Thu Mar 04, 2010 at 05:13 PM PST.

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