Considering the vicious and malicious slander Israel is subjected to, it is easy to start tuning out. Frankly, hearing even the most gentle criticism of Israel causes me to bristle inwardly for a second until I can make sure it’s constructive in nature. It took me a long internal journey, but I can proudly borrow from the Irish and call the state of Israel my cushlamochree, the vein of my heart.
I learned a lot of this Zionist devotion from my incredible friend, Ishmael Khaldi. The first time I heard him speak, Ishmael began with words I will never forget. “I am not just pro-Israel. I am Israeli.”
Ishmael is not only a hero of Israel who has been shouted down by angry mobs for defending the country, but he is a warm and caring friend to all who know him. He’s met me for tea twice, and I learned more in those talks than any Hasbara event.
While Ishmael is someone who has given so much to Israel, I regret that we as an Israeli community have not lived up to our end of the bargain. It’s so simple to fix, and yet, no one seems to be doing anything about it.
Ishmael comes from the beautiful village of Khawalid, up near Haifa. Many of its citizens have served in the army, including Ishmael’s six nephews in active IDF service, as well as a niece currently in national service.
The village sorely needs a working road in order to access the city of Kiryat Ata, so they can work, shop and access healthcare. The road has been in a disgusting state of disrepair, and all it needs is a bit of repair and paving.
Unfortunately, the Zvulun Regional Council has stalled on making the needed repairs and it’s becoming apparent that there is some nasty elements who are not fulfilling their duties.
Ishmael has found backers to pay for the paving himself, but the regional council has not approved the work, making excuses. In the words of Tevye, there is no other side of this story. Khawalid needs a working road and it needs it now.
More than six active duty soldiers of Israel are unable to even have a proper road to drive on in order to defend the Jewish state. That is inexcusable.
We as an Israeli community must fix this. We must apologize to our brothers and sisters in Khawalid, we must storm the emails of the Zvulun Regional Council and remind them that their duty is to uphold the principles of Israel. We must stand with Ishmael, our Israeli brother who has done so much for us.
If we fail to do so, we will not only be doing a grave sin against our own people, but we would be betraying the values of our country, to be a light upon nations. Our fate is in our hands.
So, what can you do? Join the Facebook page Justice for Khawalid.
There, you can find sample letters and the address of the people who need to hear our voices in standing with Khawalid. We must demand an immediate permission to start work AND a public apology for this shameful behavior.
As Ishmael has said himself, it’s our moral responsibility to stand up for those in need of our nation state. The people of Khawalid won’t give up, and it’s our job as lovers of Israel, diaspora and citizen alike to not give up until they get justice.