Ishmael Khaldi weathered the disruption and had a good dialogue with Arab and Muslim students who stayed.
Ishmael Khaldi is an Israeli diplomat, currently assigned to the Israeli Embassy in London, and formerly at the Consulate in San Francisco.
Khaldi is the first Israeli diplomat who is Bedouin. I have never met Khaldi, but I visited his home village of Khawaled in northern Israel last May, Khawaled Village – Bedouin Pride in Israel. Khaldi was was kind enough to retweet my post:
So when I saw a report that Khaldi’s appearance as the University of Windsor in Canada was disrupted by anti-Israel protesters, I took note not just because of our tenuous connection, but also because it was reported around the time that Protesters shouted down an Israeli Professor at U. Minnesota law school.
Shout-downs and disruptions of Israeli and pro-Israeli speakers are commonplace on campuses.
The Canadian Jewish News reported on the incident at Windsor:
A group of anti-Israel students hijacked a lecture by Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat who had travelled to the University of Windsor to talk about his experience as a minority living in Israel because they “refused to allow a Zionist to lead the discussion on such a topic.” …
[Jewish Student Association president Trevor] Sher said he was tipped off that there was going to be a walkout protest of Khaldi’s talk, organized by a campus club called the Palestinian Solidarity Group….
Sher said Khaldi was about 10 minutes into his presentation when the protest began.
“He didn’t get into anything political. He started off by saying that protesting an event like his is a waste of time, saying, ‘I’m not a politician, I’m just here to share my experience and my story.’ He gave a few examples of the things he’s trying to do to foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Sher said.
In a video uploaded to the Palestinian Solidarity Group’s Facebook page, the protesters can be seen interrupting Khaldi by standing in their seats and taking turns shouting slogans at Khaldi before walking out as a group. One student can be heard saying, “Shame on you for supporting terrorism.” …
A CJN request for comment from the Palestinian Solidarity Group was declined, but a post on the group’s Facebook page said, “we as pro-Palestinians refused to allow a Zionist to lead the discussion on such a topic… The pro-Palestinian voice is in charge of leading the discussions on Palestinian human rights on our campus, not Zionists.
“A constructive dialogue about Palestine cannot exist with anyone who denies the fundamental facts about the Palestinian occupation – that there is an illegal occupation… and that Israel by all measures is responsible for the vast majority of violence in Israel and Palestine.”
Sher said the protesters followed up their demonstration with an appearance on a campus radio station show, The Shake Up, during which the protesters compared Zionists to neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan.
“They said, the same way you wouldn’t let a neo-Nazi or a member of the KKK talk about black rights, you shouldn’t let a Zionist talk about Palestinian human rights,” Sher said.
This is not the first time that Khaldi’s appearanced have been disrupted:
This is what happened in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2011:
When I first heard of the Windsor disruption, I assumed Khaldi would be angry, particularly because this has happened in the past.
So I reached out to him via Facebook and his website, and was surprised that he had a positive attitude, and sees past the haters and focuses on those students who are willing to listen.
Khaldi expressed his views in a blog post at CAMERA’s website, The Way to Succeed:
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….
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….
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….
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….
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’m confident our way will win, just keep up the efforts.
Well said. I hope that Ishmael keeps on appearing at campuses. We can’t let the screamers and the haters win.
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