Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Meeting Ishmael Khaldi- Israeli Bedouin

Today we met Ishmael Khaldi, an Israeli Bedouin (transient Arab). Bedouins have lived in Israel since before the State was founded in 1948, and have played a big part in Israeli history. Ishmael explained that Bedouins are Muslims who support Israel. He said that they fight in the Israel Defence Force because the future of Israel is their future as well. Although the Bedouins' situation is not ideal, Israeli organizations and the Israeli government strive to integrate them into society, because Israel is not only a Jewish state, but a democratic state.
Hearing Ishmael's words made me realize, that integration requires mutual effort. Real relationship-building and improvements have occurred because the Bedouin's have also made a true, concertive effort to be an equal part of Israeli society.
Before leaving, I thanked Ishmael's parents for their warm hospitality (even after 30 hungry mouths arrived, the table was still full of yummy food!). Ishmael's father said to me, in Hebrew, "it is important to show people that we are working together, cooperating, Muslims and Jews." I hope that sincere mutual efforts will allow these words to be true for all Muslim groups in Israel.


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