Analysis: It’s the principle – not just the man

"The Arab community is overwhelmingly supportive of Allan because we are overwhelmingly supportive of the Palestinian cause," MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash) told The Jerusalem Post.

August 20, 2015 03:44
2 minute read.
Yousef Jabareen

Yousef Jabareen shouts during a protest. (photo credit: COURTESY HADASH)


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Mass Israeli-Arab support for hunger-striking Islamic Jihad activist Muhammad Allan is due to an overwhelming opposition to the policy of administrative detention, which has also produced a solidarity effect within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One could wonder how the communist, Arab-Jewish Hadash Party would throw its full support behind an Islamic Jihad activist whose ideology is far from its own. But the united Arab struggle over Allan is less about the man than about standing up for a principle in what the Israeli-Arab public sees as part of discriminatory policies.

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The Allan episode is just the latest event to become a symbol, a rallying cry for the Arab sector within Israel and uniting it with the Palestinians in the territories.

“The Arab community is overwhelmingly supportive of Allan because we are overwhelmingly supportive of the Palestinian cause for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel,” MK Yousef Jabareen (Hadash) told The Jerusalem Post.

“We see Allan’s struggle as an integral part of the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and injustices, and we believe that it’s our duty as an integral part of the Palestinian people to support the fair and just cause of our people to fulfill their right for national self-determination,” he said.

“Allan, first of all, is a victim of the continuous Israeli occupation,” argued Jabareen, adding: “Administrative arrest is a violation of basic rights of Palestinian prisoners and the hunger strike is a heroic, nonviolent tool of protest against this draconian arrest.”

The MK holds a PhD in civil rights law from Georgetown University.

Raja Zaatry, a Hadash spokesman and activist who was responsible for the Joint List media campaign during the March election, told the Post : “Solidarity with administrative detainee Muhammad Allan crosses party lines and ideologies, as this is a democratic and human rights struggle of the first degree.”

Support also comes “as a protest against the government’s radical policy of deepening the occupation and the settlements, and the escalation of hate crimes,” Zaatry said, mentioning the recent fatal firebombing in the West Bank village of Duma and vandalism at a church near the Sea of Galilee by suspected Jewish extremists.

Arab-Israeli websites have been covering the hunger-striking Allan at the top of their websites. Kholod Massalaha, editor at the news portal, told the Post on Wednesday that the overwhelming majority of the Arab public is supporting the cause.

The Joint List is backing national protests, and Arabs are very active on social media regarding the issue, she said.

“Allan is taking a stand and is ready to go until the end in a just struggle,” Massalaha said, adding that even some Jews were participating in protests because of the administrative detention issue.

There is also support coming from the Christians.

Edwar Makhoul, a Christian Arab from the Galilee who is studying for an MA in Middle Eastern history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the Post that most Christians were supporting Allan out of humanitarian considerations. He estimated support in his sector at around 80-90 percent.

Makhoul attributed this to an effort to be accepted, as well as a demonstration of solidarity with the Muslim majority.

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