After real-life superhero Michael Ben Zikri perished saving the lives of a Bedouin mother and her three children, an Arab politician vowed to name the main street in their town in his memory.
By United With Israel Staff
At the beginning of July, a 45-year-old Israeli man named Michael Ben Zikri died after rescuing a Bedouin mother and her three children from drowning in a lake where people were enjoying their weekend.
Hundreds of Jews and Arabs alike attended the Ashdod resident’s funeral, with one of the Bedouin family’s relatives telling a local TV channel, “Today it’s hard to find a hero like this.”
Scores of Bedouins from the town of Hura held posters at the funeral with slogans praising Ben Zikri’s heroism and thanking him for saving the family.
A former Arab Knesset member told Ben Zikri’s family that the entire community shared in their grief and vowed to “rename the main street in our town in his honor.”
Following the funeral, the Israeli Foreign Ministry shared the story on its social media accounts in Arabic and Persian, garnering praise from people across the Muslim world.
“The fact we have political differences with you guys doesn’t mean there is a disagreement between us about humanitarianism,” said a commenter from Egypyt, the Lay of the Land website reported.
Another commented from Iraq wrote, “This is the people of Israel who love all and help all,” while the UK-based Saudi news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat published an account of the Bedouins who paid condolence visits to Ben Zikri’s family.
According to the Foreign Ministry’s Arabic social media manager, Yonatan Gonen, “Users from Morocco to Iraq, from Oman to Syria, could identify with the story and unanimously pointed at Michael’s heroism on a very large scale, some even pointed to Israel’s coexistence as a role model.”
Ben Zikri took action when the Bedouin family got sucked under the water due to a sinkhole opening up in the man-made lake near Zikim beach outside of Ashkelon, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Tel Aviv.
Ben Zikri rescued the mother, two girls, aged 14 and 7, and their 10-year-old brother.
The exhausted Ben Zikri apparently slipped under the water himself and his body was found later by Magen David Adom rescue workers, but it was too late and he could not be revived.
Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin paid tribute to Ben Zikri and announced that his office is creating a new civilian award for citizens who inspire others in society through their heroic actions.
“I have decided to award, for the first time, a special commendation to Michael Ben Zikri, of blessed memory, whose actions set an example of outstanding civic action,” tweeted Rivlin, who invited both families to his residence at the end of the mourning period.