On January 28th, Jonathan Elkhoury embarked on his North American campus tour in partnership with CAMERA. “I lost one country, I won’t lose the other one. Today I’m starting one of my most important journeys – a journey in the United States about the truth,” he remarked on his Facebook page.
Jonathan is a gay Christian Arab spokesman for the Christian Empowerment Council (CEC) in Israel. His father was an officer in the South Lebanon Army (SLA). When Israel evacuated its forces from Lebanon in 2001, Elkhoury’s family was endangered due to the IDF’s support of the SLA. His father was forced to flee to Israel in 2000, leaving his family behind – Jonathan, his mother and brother only managed to join his father in Israel a year later.
Elkhoury addresses the issues pertaining to Christians and minorities in the Middle East and works closely with Father Gabriel Naddaf.
In total, Elkhoury visited ten campuses in February 2016, and attended a number of other events. He spoke for Emet for Israel supported groups at Stanford University, Ohio State University, Case Western University, Cornell University, SUNY Albany, SUNY Binghamton, MIT, Boston University, and CUNY Hunter.
Students have remarked on how refreshing it was to hear stories about minorities in Israel from such a unique source. Elkhoury also makes a point of being open to answering all questions by his student audiences, which proved very effective. CAMERA Fellow Suri Bandler only had praise for the speaker, “Jonathan was clearly relaying his own perspective and experiences, and he did so openly and honestly. He was engaging and encouraged people to ask questions. He brought a new perspective on Israel and its minorities – one that not many people had heard before or even knew existed.”
The ease with which Jonathan Elkhoury shares his experiences growing up in Lebanon and Israel as a gay Christian Arab, and as a human rights activist, brings students a nuanced and distinct outlook on Israel-Arab relations.
Contributed by Bar-Ilan University CAMERA intern, Jasmine Esulin.