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Palestinian defends Israel on South Africa campus

March 6, 2012 9:24 P.M. (Updated: March 8, 2012 2:05 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israel has sent a delegation of 100 students to represent it in the annual Apartheid Week in South Africa, an Israeli newspaper reported Tuesday.

The report in Maariv noted one unusual participant in this year's delegation -- a 25-year-old Muslim Bushra Khalilieh, a member of Israel's Arab minority in the Galilee.

The newspaper said Khalilieh was attending university in one of South Africa’s university campuses. Khalilieh, who wears a hijab, came to Israel's defense during activities on campus.

"We toured Johannesburg and Cape Town’s campuses and met local students," she said.

"We spoke with them about Israel and I told them about my personal issue as an Arab girl living in Israel. I feel Israel to be my hometown where there’s equality and I have all my rights.”

"When students hear us, they are surprised as there are some who do not even know there are Arabs living in Israel. I, as an Arab Israeli girl, love my country and believe that it seeks peace and respects all its citizens.”

Khalilieh, a masters student at Tel Aviv University, stressed that she represents herself and not the position of the Israeli government.

“I represent myself as a Muslim Arab who lives in Israel as a liberal and free girl unlike other Arab girls who live in Arab countries and do not have the human rights I have like freedom of expression and dignity.”

She added: "There are people who are calling to boycott us and say that there is apartheid in Israel, but I try to show Israel as a country that’s different from what they think."
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