Diplomat George Deek spent almost a week in the State of Florida visiting college campuses with CAMERA. Even with his busy schedule he was able to make appearances at the University of Miami, Florida International University and, finally, the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Deek grew up in Jaffa, Israel as a Greek Orthodox Christian, and later became the Israeli diplomat to Nigeria and Norway. He came to speak with simple messages of peace and unity.
Deek opened up his dialogue going over his family’s history, and what is was like growing up as an Orthodox Christian in Israel. He described how diverse Jaffa is, and how that diversity spreads throughout the entire country. He came with a unique perspective because he is not Jewish, yet he spent his entire life in the Jewish State. With this vantage point, he is able to spread a message of diversity with the upmost of credibility.
The former ambassador spoke about the atmosphere of the Middle East and how Israel can be at the forefront to lead nations to peace. With Israel having such internal diversity, he called on Jews and Christians to lead the fight against Islamophobia, while asking Muslims to lead the fight against “Christianophobia” and “Judeophobia.” This is a very important request and something that isn’t always at the forefront of conversations on the Arab-Israeli conflict.
It takes a lot of courage as an Arab to represent Israel and one question that was on my mind and I’m sure on many others’, was, “Since becoming a diplomat, have you experienced any push-back from your family or community?” He explained that he’s received four reactions from his community. One of complete support, one of complete apathy, and two of disapproval, but these two are quite different. He explained the first reaction comparing it to his uncle, where they have heated arguments about his career, but who always comes from a good place and “that is why he is [his] favorite uncle.” The last reaction however, is one where people not only disapprove of his career, but also remain extremely close minded to dialogue and conversation.
Knights for Israel, UCF’s CAMERA-supported group, was honored to host George Deek. He is someone that comes from a different side of the same coin, and truly cares about making Israel and the Middle East a better place. The audience walked away from the night with an even greater perspective of life in Israel for not just Jews, but Arabs as well.
Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and Vice President of Knights for Israel at the University of Central Florida, Jason Frances.