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LectureHop: “Something Rotten Here”


Power-walking to catch the final hour of Ishmael Khaldi’s lecture on a “Bedouin’s Perspective,” Bwog MEALACtivism Correspondent Sarah Camiscoli had to check the Bwog Bucket List several times to confirm that the location was in fact just a classroom on the third floor of Milbank. In a small room and in front of a small crowd, the  first Bedouin Israeli diplomat shared his provocative thoughts on Israeli Apartheid/Israel Peace Week.

Ishmael Khaldi, a Bedouin Muslim Israeli activist invited to speak by LionPAC, relayed his story of being born and raised in the village of Khawalid in the Western Galilee of Israel; receiving a Masters Degree in Political Science from Tel Aviv University; serving in the Israeli Defense Ministry; becoming the first Bedouin deputy consul of the State of Israel; working with the American Embassy; and advocating for Israel in San Francisco. While his accomplishments from “growing up as a shepherd [to] becoming an educated world traveler” are famously depicted on his website and other media sources, Khaldi spent most of his time and energy focusing on his close relationship with the Jewish community in Israel, his disgust with the lack of support for Israel in this “western nation,” and his desire to see more advocacy from those who support the existence and the political agenda of Israel.

Some of Khaldi’s most poignant moments came as he spoke about the expectation for “Western countries to sympathize with [Israel’s] right to exist” and the fact that there “is something rotten here, and it is very bothering.” Khaldi, who worked with students in San Francisco to show them “who Israel is” by setting them up with internships in Silicon Valley and sending them on trips to to the country, expressed his discontent at seeing “only 20% of Jewish students who are active and against [anti-Israel activism]” like this week’s Apartheid Wall. Referring to those students who took the initiative to build the wall, Khaldi said, “If they have responsibility, tell them to go to Harlem. What is the difference? Go to Riverdale. Can we have Riverdale Apartheid Week?”

In addition to his denouncement of the “delegitimization of Israel” on campus, Khaldi expressed several other political opinions, among them that “Israel’s biggest problem and the entire world’s problem is Iran.” Expressing his disgust for Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust, Khaldi also spoke to the danger harbored in Iran as they “have enough natural gas to last them 500 years.” Thinking in terms of solutions for these two jarring issues facing his country, Khaldi quoted a passage from the Koran in Arabic that he read as “do not argue with people from the book unless it is with the best means.” For Khaldi, such “means” are more peaceful negotiations than propagating what he calls “Israel Hatred Week.”

When the floor was opened to questions, your correspondent, curious as to what exactly Khaldi hoped to see from a campus where he believes “only 20% of Jewish students” are active, asked what type of advocacy he would like to see. To this, Khaldi responded, “Go to the minorities…work with other groups–Afro, Latin, and Christian groups…You have to teach the ones that don’t know…find ways to work together. Then they will see the wall on campus, but they will know who Israel is.”

To read more about Ishmael Khaldi, visit his website.

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  • Pax R says:

    @Pax R Let’s educate everyone in peace. Join the movement towards peace by following Pax_101 on Facebook.

    Peace, let’s raise our hands for it.

  • this is why i hate says:

    @this is why i hate this is why i hate the pro-palestinian activism. WE’RE A BUNCH OF MORONS. no, Israel isn’t exactly like South Africa. yes, Ben White is a massive douche. But just because the analogy with South Africa isn’t good, doesn’t mean there’s not horrendous violence being done to Palestinians in Gaza (and the West Bank, by the way, which is still under a brutal occupation). By constantly likening israeli occupation to things that are different and/or worse (i hear nazi alot) WE ARE GIVING THE ZIONISTS THEIR ARGUING POINTS AND DISTRACTING FROM THE MAIN ISSUE OF PEOPLE DYING.

  • WAKE UP PEOPLE says:

    @WAKE UP PEOPLE Ben White, who spoke at the event Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide is a widely known anti-Semite and has denied the Holocaust. Tough choice on who to cover.

    1. ALL CAPS says:

      @ALL CAPS Wait, was THAT an accusation of anti-semitism? I JUST DON”T KNOW!!!

  • Surprising says:

    @Surprising I know this is Bwog, and I do love thee, but the total lack of analysis, or of any sort of relevant commentary, on someone who is a very alienating and very controversial figure (now don’t get upset, folks, I mean no disrespect), was, as my name suggests, quite Surprising. He’s a pretty crazy fellow, to put it mildly and politely.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous While I do love the pun MEALACtivism, I have to point out that the department (which also didn’t sponsor this event) has now sadly changed it’s name to MESAAS.

    Also, these activism ‘weeks’ are both such jokes. “Israeli Apartheid Week” is needlessly sensationalist in its language, and alienates moderates. The whole plywood wall on low steps thing seems a little silly to me. And of course, “Peace Week for Israelis and Palestinians” is shamelessly one-sided (not that we should expect anything else from LionPAC).
    This one-sidedness is best symbolized by their posters, which say in large letters shalom, spelled correctly, and salaam, spelled with unconnected Arabic letters clearly written by someone using microsoft word on a mac, who probably copied and pasted it from wikipedia, without bothering to make sure that the letters connected.

    1. one sided? says:

      @one sided? If you bothered even looking at who is hosting the Peace Week for Israelis and Palestinians you’d have seen a myriad of groups hosting. LionPAC isn’t the only group on campus promoting these events.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous If you had bothered even looking, you would have realized that all those groups supporting it are either Jewish or Pro-Israel, NOT Palestinian, Arab, Muslim or any way representing any other side.

        1. lol says:

          @lol You honestly believe that this is for lack of trying? The Apartheid Wall organizers specifically said that they weren’t interested in dialogue, but rather “consciousness raising” aka propagandizing. Cosponsoring events that explore the ambiguity of the situation wouldn’t serve their immediate political goals.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous “israel palestine peace week” was a joke. LionPAC’s “efforts” on College Walk were anything but peaceful…

    1. tonight says:

      @tonight “–Just Peace Presents: Pizza and Peace- Grassroots Peace Movements in Israel
      Stop by for a slice of pizza and an informal discussion about grassroots peace movements in Israel. We will have information about groups that push the government to be more active in the peace process, such as New Israel Fund, Peace Now, Breaking the Silence, Parents Circle, and the Peres Center for Peace, among others. Come to learn more about different organizations and how you can get involved, and feel free to bring information about your favorite grassroots peace effort in Israel!
      Time/Location: 9pm rm 400 in Hillel (115th st. across from Schapiro)”

      This event sounds pretty peaceful to me…

  • CLS says:

    @CLS All the commenters complaining about bwog’s coverage of this event: quit whining. Bwog has covered pro-Palestinian events quite sympathetically. Check posts tagged “israel,” and you will see that Bwog has covered Palestinian speakers and protests much more than corresponding pro-Israel events. Yet bwog covers one pro-Israel speaker, and suddenly it’s part of your imagined Zionist propaganda machine (oh no!). Guess what: bwog is not your personal mouthpiece. They don’t always cover the events I want covered, and they don’t always cover the events you want covered. Limited resources, etc. It’s a big internet. Move on.

    I’m sorry that hearing about a Israeli non-Jew advocating for his country causes such cognitive dissonance for you. Isn’t that the real issue?

    1. tsk tsk tsk says:

      @tsk tsk tsk “I’m sorry that hearing about a Israeli non-Jew advocating for his country causes such cognitive dissonance for you. Isn’t that the real issue?”

      You think that race-card still works? Is it possible that educated bwog-readers would have been disgusted by these talking points and lies. There’s no difference between Morningside Heights and Harlem vs Tel Aviv and Gaza? Blowing Iran way out of proportion? Slandering other student groups?

      Nope, not possible. Nobody’s that smart. It MUST be that everyone is anti-semitic. Logic!

      1. race card? says:

        @race card? Not sure where you saw someone accuse anti-Israel protestors of being anti-semitic or “playing the race card” (whatever that means in this context). The cognitive dissonance comment reflects the fact that many people wrongly believe Israel is an apartheid state, so it’s tough for them to reconcile that with, for example, an Israeli Bedouin who is proudly serving his country.

        Not that your response is surprising. Anti-Israel advocates love to claim that they’re the victims of false accusations of anti-Semitism. It’s all the rage these days. Calm down. No one has accused you of being anti-Semitic.

        Sorry, but on this campus hating on Israel isn’t exactly speaking truth to power. If you want to be a real martyr, publish a picture of Muhammad.

        1. Perhaps I was unclear says:

          @Perhaps I was unclear The anti-semitism comment refers to the speaker’s over the top rhetoric. Describing any criticism of Israeli politics as hate of Israel or an attempt to “delegitimize” Israel. We all know why such people have an irrational hatred of Israel because…

          The only reason why “it’s all the rage” is because Pro-Israeli commentators do it all the time. Ever read Leon Wieseltier? Oh, and the comments throughout bwog and this event. Read them. Ben White is an anti-Semite and denied the Holocaust? Right…

          So, what we’re suppose to carry away from this event is the fact that a non-Jewish Israeli has opinions of Israeli hard-liners (excuse me: proudly serving his country) undermines the usage of the word apartheid? Wow, I had more faith in lionpac than this. Well, listen, the word apartheid seems to cause a lot of “cognitive dissonance” in many people. I tend not to think it’s useful. But, call it what you wish, but millions of Palestinians with no voting rights and limited traveling, water, etc. rights, certainly isn’t democratic. There’s only two options continuing in this manner: a binational state (which is not Zionist) or…well, you know…

          Perhaps my hatred of Israel is so irrational for “unknown” reasons. In that case, listen to Ehud Barak. He says the same thing.

          Finally, your comments about imagined propaganda machines is nonsense, but I’m sure self-assuring. As for printing pictures of Islamic prophets, that’s neither here nor there. By all means, the NYT should have front page pictures daily

  • Eliza says:

    @Eliza To clarify: each week, we let members of the Bwog staff cover whichever lectures they find most interesting. This will sometimes mean that a lecture attended by two people is covered, while a lecture attended by 100 people is not. We know it’s an imperfect system, but we’d rather have people write about what they are interested in than randomly assign them lectures and stories. We think, and so do our readers most of the time, that it makes Bwog better. We absolutely never wish to convey any bias in our writing. If there is a specific factual inaccuracy, please point it out to us and it will be corrected. Thanks for reading, and we mean that forreal.

  • Bwog Sux says:

    @Bwog Sux There were two concurrent events last night. One, which apparently disagreed with your political leanings, was in one of the largest rooms on campus and must have had at least 100 attendees. The other, which agreed more with your leanings, was in a “small room with a small crowd.” So, you sent your Middle East (or whatever) correspondent to cover the smaller event, and write how it’s “poignant” to say that Westerners should identify more with Israel because it’s Western?

    This damages your credibility as a weblog I can rely on to accurately depict campus events, especially events related to important political issues. I demand to know how you determine which events to cover, why you chose to cover this puny event instead of the probably the largest event on campus last night, and how you let a clearly biased piece get published.

    1. 100 people in the other event? says:

      @100 people in the other event? Really? Well how many were haters from SIPA?

      How many were people brought in by outside co-sponsors?

      How many were Pro-Israel students coming to see what all the fuss was about (and left quite disappointed because although there was truth to about half of what was said, the other parts were false leading to a conflation of the accurate and inaccurate, and giving the audience a libelous presentation)?

      Finally, how many students were cu/bc undergrads??

      1. hi there says:

        @hi there Just want to say that I’m a CU undergrad and attended the event out of support for IAW and Palestine in general, and I saw about a dozen friends/acquaintances there who are also CU/BC/SEAS undergrads and were there out of general support or interest. However, even if the crowd was mostly people attracted by the controversy rather than the content, it still seems strange to cover a small anti-IAW event without any coverage on IAW itself. Probably more reflective of bwog’s laziness rather than any sort of political bias, but still.

  • Minorities in Israel says:

    @Minorities in Israel Well what do you know, minorities in Israel DO have rights!

    Thank you Bwog for covering a Peace Week for Israelis and Palestinians event!

    1. False says:

      @False One monkey doesn’t stop a slaughter. Arabs in Israel are not treated fairly, and do not have the same rights and privileges as Jews simply because they are not Jewish. Whoever this Arab Uncle Tom is, he doesn’t represent the vast majority of Arabs in Israel. It’s like saying just because Obama is president, African-Americans have all the same economic opportunities as white Americans. Obama doesn’t represent the mainstream African-American experience. The same applies to Arabs in Israel and this Khaldi fool.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Cool Bwog. Not even a mention of the Sophomore Scream event on your main page. It’s not like there’s free funnel cake or anything or like people are actually trying to promote school spirit in a clever way. Oh, it’s on the events side tab. Well, considering everyone reads that, I guess I’ll live. You never fail to un-impress.

    1. Eliza says:

      @Eliza We try to post free food events relatively close to the event itself, so that people don’t forget throughout the course of the day. In the future, you can expect that free food events will be rounded up towards the end of the day. We want funnel cake and school spirit too, we promise. That’s why we’re posting a time when we think it’ll be fresh in everyone’s minds.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous the week is anti Apartheid. no one was yelling about South Africa’s right to exist either.

  • Seriously bwog? says:

    @Seriously bwog? Out of all the lectures listed in the Bucket List, THIS is the lecture you deemed worthy of a lecturehop? This guy seems just as crazy as Ahmadinejad, just from the other perspective.

    “is disgust with the lack of support for Israel in this “western nation,” ”


    1. agreed says:

      @agreed pretty pathetic coverage also…especially since there was another event yesterday in the IAB auditorium with a renowned journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent. this lecturehop would’ve been more acceptable if it was done in conjunction with yesterday’s Apartheid lecture. yay for bias!

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