Numerous Internet users from across the Arab and Muslim world shared their condolences with the family of an Israeli man, Michael Ben Zikri, who drowned while saving a Bedouin family at Shiqma Reservoir in the south.
Ben Zikri, 45, drowned on Friday while rescuing a woman (an aunt) and three children of one family, all residents of the Bedouin town of Hura, after the four got caught in turbulence. He is survived by his wife and three children.
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Touched by the story, Ben Zikri had become a symbol of co-existence between Jews and Muslims when the Foreign Ministry shared the story on social media in Persian and Arabic.
“This is true humanitarianism”, commented Mirna from Iraq. “There is no difference between humans, God taught us to love one another.”
Another user wrote, “Humanity has no religion, may he dwell in heaven and blessings come upon his families and loved ones for his noble act.”
Othman from Saudi Arabia mentioned a passage from the Quran in which “God said that whoever saves a single soul is considered as if he saved all people.”
A user from Egypt said, “The fact we have political differences with you guys doesn’t mean there is a disagreement between us about humanitarianism,” wrote the user from Iraq. “This is the people of Israel who love all and help all.”
Social media manager at The Foreign Ministry in the Arabic, Yonatan Gonen, said that the post went viral and shared all around the Arab and Muslim world.
“This is a touching story that couldn’t leave users from Arab states indifferent,” said Gonen. “even those who are hostile to Israel, Users from Iraq, Oman to Syria and Morocco, could identify with his story and unanimously pointed at Michael’s heroism on a very large scale, some even pointed Israel’s coexistence as a role model,” said Gonen.
Ben Zikri laid to rest on Sunday in Ashkelon cemetery. Dozens of Hura residents attended his funeral.
Minister of Religious Affairs Ya’akov Avitan, a childhood friend of Ben Zikri, eulogized him and spoke of his generous nature. “Anytime a person was in trouble, Michael was the first to help,” said Avitan.
“What he did on Friday wasn’t an act of heroism to him, but a way of life. He gave all his life, and this time too, he was the first one to jump into the water.”