Israel boasts a diversity of religious, ethnic and political thought. It is home to many Christians, Muslims and Druze, who take pride in their Israeli identities. In the past, these men and women from minority groups have been pressured into silence by the Middle Eastern media, but they have increasingly been public about their opinions.
As an Israeli-Lebanese Christian — and the son of a South Lebanese Army officer — I’ve been active in encouraging Israeli-Christian youth to enlist in the IDF, or to take part in national service. But when I heard the falsehoods about my country being peddled by boycott groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, I knew that I had to expand the scope of my activism.
Israel’s minorities are cynically exploited by anti-Israel propagandists, so it became my hope that a group of minority activists would be able to counter these lies by sharing their personal stories. However, I’ve found that for Israeli minorities, speaking out and braving harassment at home is far from the only hurdle to telling the truth abroad. We also have to find people willing to listen. Unfortunately, such people seem to be in short supply.
This October, I led a delegation of Israeli minority activists on a lecture tour in the US, coordinated by the group “Reservists on Duty.” Our delegation originally planned to speak at 13 universities — in collaboration with the Students Supporting Israel movement in the US. We expected to be received with open arms by academic institutions and organizations, as their representatives have often expressed support for minority voices and diversity.