Israel’s Arab Muslim Ambassador
Meet Ali Yahya, Israel’s first Arab Muslim ambassador (hat tip: Haya).
Ali Yahya’s support of Israel often provokes anger and incredulity.
When he served as Israel’s first ambassador of Arab Muslim heritage, Yahya regularly drew looks of surprise for his flawless Arabic.
“For sure, there are some Arabs who see any Arab working with Israel as a traitor,” Yahya told students at Marymount Academy yesterday.
Now a consultant with Israel’s foreign ministry, Yahya continues to surprise his audiences, including the students he addressed in Montreal CEGEPs and universities this week.
Despite the heated rhetoric and endless debates on Montreal campuses about the Middle East conflict, Israel’s defenders have rarely been of Arab heritage.
At Marymount, a high school in Notre Dame de Gr‚ce, students found it hard to believe Israel chose Yahya to serve as its ambassador to Finland in 1995.
“When did the Israeli government begin to start trusting you?” one asked.
“They’ve trusted me since I was born in an Israeli hospital,” he replied.
Yahya came to Israel’s defence several times, as Marymount students grilled him on suicide bombers, Saddam Hussein and the right of return for Palestinians.
Tisha Llewellyn, 16, asked Yahya why Jews from the United States can move to Israel more easily than Palestinians. “I just think they drove the Palestinians out of their own land,” Tisha said. “It would be more right if they shared the land.”
Others questioned how Israel could build a wall separating it from the Palestinians while still claiming to be inclusive of other cultures.
“It’s between us and the Palestinians at the moment,” Yahya replied. “If (Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat) came to the negotiating table, the wall could be destroyed in two days.”
Asked why so few Arab figures speak publicly in support of Israel, Yahya cited government repression by Arab regimes against Zionists.
“When we talk person to person, they agree with me,” he said of his Arab colleagues.
Yahya said Arab Israelis, who make up about 20 per cent of the country’s 6.7 million people, have an important role to play as messengers between Palestinians and Jews.
It’s a role he said he knows all too well. “It’s to have a headache every day,” Yahya said. “Sometimes it’s hard to still keep the torch of hope.”
This story was brought to you from the racist State of Israel.