Cheryl Levi

Revealing the Diamonds in the Rough

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The war in Israel has brought out the worst in humanity. We have seen the Pro-Palestinian protestors wrapped in black and white keffiyehs, shouting, and pumping their fists in the air.  We have felt the vibrations of the antisemitic chants on our college campuses. And we have witnessed the cowardly behavior of Hamas, who insist on hiding behind Arab children and stealing their humanitarian aid.  But October 7th has introduced us to inspiring stories of bravery as well.  These stories of bravery are not just stories of our intrepid Israeli soldiers who tirelessly and courageously fight for our country;  They are also stories about people from whom we’d least expect fearlessness or faithfulness towards the state of Israel.  And for a brief moment, I’d like to focus on a few of their stories.

Sophia Khalifa is an Israeli Arab whose video on YouTube was posted two weeks ago.  The video is essentially her personal love song to the State of Israel.  She calls Israel “a very beautiful, and strong, multi-ethnic democracy.”  She tells the story of her mother who ran away from her father, who was married to two wives.  She ran to Naharia, where she and her nine children lived off of the Israeli welfare system.  Sophia says that her mother had nothing and as a single mother, she could not have survived any other way.  She explains that in Israel everyone has equal rights.  This means the right to welfare, healthcare, and education.  She went to Israeli schools where she was treated equally by her Jewish friends and teachers. She remembered being told by a Moslem teacher that she would be repressed in Israel and that it was critical to take back the land.  But that was not her experience, and the contradictions confused her.  But it was her Arab friend who told her of her deep desire to become a shahid that rattled Sophia to her core.

When Sophia began traveling to Europe and working in Tel Aviv her uncle threatened to cut off her head because of the shame she brought on her family. Her mother told him that he won’t touch a hair on Sophia’s head.  She was empowered by her mother’s response and understood that while she was in Israel, she had nothing to fear because  Israel protects its women.

Towards the end of her video, Sophia defends Israel against the claim that it is an apartheid state.  She emphasizes that Israel is a country that treats all its citizens equally.  She explains that she is a proud Arab Muslim, a mother of two children with a master’s degree from Stanford University.  As a child, she just needed an education and the opportunity to succeed.  According to Sophia, “Israel gave her everything”.

It’s an engaging video, and it’s important to highlight the bravery it took to publish it.

Egyptian author, Dalia, Ziada explains what was going on in Egypt after October 7th.  She says that nobody truly understood what went on during that attack because the media was lying to the people.  They referred to it like any other attack that had been going on for years between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  It wasn’t until she was invited to a video conference along with a few hundred Arab journalists, that she learned what really happened on October 7th.  They showed them the burned-down houses and the videos the terrorists took of themselves murdering and mutilating the Jews. She was shocked by the lies and disgusted by what happened to the women, so she decided to speak out.  She utilized her social media platforms to tell the truth to the Arab public. She began to be threatened by both Islamists and the Egyptian state.  She was not surprised by the threats of the Islamists, but she was shocked by the reaction of the Egyptian authorities.  She explains that Egypt has had a peace treaty with Israel for years.  She couldn’t believe that the Egyptian police had no problem seeing her killed because she supported Israel.  She was officially accused of espionage and high treason, so she was forced to leave Egypt to protect herself.  She ran to a “Western country”.  While she is too terrified to reveal the identity of her new home, she vows to keep fighting for the truth.

Here is her interview on YouTube.  She is highly intelligent and has a unique perspective on this war.  It is really worth watching.

The people of Iran have shown remarkable courageousness as well since October 7th.   While their government took a major role in the planning of the attack, the citizens of the country rebelled.  They are at the forefront of pro-Israel rallies all over Europe and America, and in Iran itself, the people risked their lives to hang up banners in the center of Tehran reading “We stand with Israel” and “Vahid is our voice”.  Vahid Behreshti is an anti-Iranian activist who spoke to the Israeli parliament, begging them to back him and the citizens of Iran in a revolution to take down the regime.  In England, where he now lives, he spent 10 months standing outside the Foreign Office to get the British government to classify the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.  He risks his life day after day to fight for the plight of his people and the people of Israel. In his home in England, he has begun to fly an Israeli flag next to his Persian one.

Lili Moo (not her true name) is another brave Iranian citizen who has come out against the Iranian government at the risk of her own life.  She currently resides in London for her own safety, but her most recent pro-Israel speech has gone viral.  She held up posters of kidnapped Israeli hostages and declared, “The antisemitic behavior we are witnessing in London is appalling. The celebration of terrorism we are witnessing here is appalling. For freedom, for life, and for woman, I will stay with you (Israel)… The people of Iran are on your side, they are on my side, and they are on the side of humanity, and not terror.” Lili Moo’s life is constantly being threatened by extremists, but she fights on.

With so much sadness and destruction flooding the evening news and our morning radio shows, sometimes it’s important to switch focus for a moment.  Yes, this war has exposed us to the absolute worst in humanity, but it has also revealed a few precious diamonds in the rough.

About the Author
Cheryl Levi is a writer and a high school English teacher who lives with her family in Bet Shemesh, Israel. She has a master's degree in medieval Jewish philosophy and has written numerous articles about faith crisis in Judaism. Her book, Reasonable Doubts, was published in 2010.
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