Conferences will be held in 30 countries around the globe on Saturday to address the rights of Israeli Arabs in the wake of a ban on the Islamic Movement and other organizations.
“We are widening and continuing the international struggle against racist discrimination,” Mohammad Barakeh, the leader of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday following a Tel Aviv press conference to announce the international Israeli-Arab rights day.
The banning of the Islamic Movement and its organizations and charity NGOs “is not just a local issue,” the former Hadash head continued, saying the crackdown against the Islamic Movement “will eventually target everyone.”
If Israeli Arabs don’t stand up for their rights today, tomorrow it will get worse, Barakeh said after the meeting, which also included leaders of several Islamic Movement organizations that have been outlawed by the Israeli government.
Joint List MK Dr. Yousef Jabareen, who heads the faction’s international team, told the Post the conferences around the world would focus on “numerous human rights violations that successive Israeli governments have regularly undertaken against its Arab-Palestinian citizens.”
“Israeli policies have rendered Palestinians in Israel as second- class citizens in all social, economic and political aspects of society in clear violation of international law standards and the human-rights treaties to which Israel is a signatory,” he said.
Jabareen will be one of four speakers on a panel in London organized by the Middle East Monitor, a pro-Palestinian website.
The other speakers will be Dr. Durgham Saif, a professor at Al-Quds University; Malia Bouattia, the Black Students’ Officer of the National Union of Students; and journalist Ben White.
The event will be chaired by Meral Hussein-Ece of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary group, according to Middle East Monitor.
“Palestinian citizens are ill-represented, in the public sphere and in decision making circles, and Arab municipalities are substantially underfunded compared to Jewish towns and, as such, their inhabitants fail to have the same quality of schooling, housing and economic welfare as Jewish Israelis,” said Jabareen.
One of the issues to be highlighted is the government’s ban of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, he said, adding that the organization and its affiliated organizations “should be protected by freedom of expression and freedom of association.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defended outlawing the group for acting to undermine Israel, inciting violence, cooperating closely with Hamas and seeking to replace Israel with a caliphate.
“We have nothing against Islam,” Netanyahu said after the group was outlawed in November.
“We have nothing against the Muslim citizens of Israel who enjoy full equal rights and the vast majority of whom are law-abiding citizens. But we will continue to act against inciters and those who encourage terrorism.”
Jabereen had told the Post last month that a diplomatic blitz was in the works with a main objective to reverse the ban on the Islamic Movement.
Tawfek Mohammad Jabarin, a representative of the Islamic Movement’s media arm based in Umm el-Fahm and the former editor of the northern Islamist Movement publication Sawt al-Haqq wal-Huriyyah (The Voice of Freedom and Justice), which has since been banned, told the Post there are now 45 journalists out of work, including himself.
“The stupid settler government shut the mouths of the Arabs and the Left and is inciting,” he said angrily.
The banning of the movement was “a political decision,” he argued, adding that there is no chance the courts would reverse the ruling for the media branch of the movement, but perhaps there was a chance for the NGOs working in charity.
Jabarin said half a million Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian territories depend on aid from the movement, asserting that the government does not take care of the Arab population adequately.
Asked how the organization would overcome the ban, he responded: “We know how to overcome things,” and will find a solution.
Also at the Sunday meeting was Islamic Movement charity manager Raed Bader, whose NGO, the Humanitarian Relief Committee, also was banned. Based in Nazareth, it aids Arabs in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
“We help orphans and Israeli hospitals contact us,” he said, adding that he also has aided Syrians being treated in Israeli hospitals.
Bader claimed that the NGO’s bank account, which distributes more than NIS 7 million a month, has been frozen and that its attorney has appealed the shutdown of the charity, which gives families NIS 500 to NIS 1,000 a month for food, medicine and other basic needs.
Majdi Abu al-Hof, an accountant for Iqra, an NGO supporting Arab students that was also banned, claimed there are no longer Islamic Movement directors of the organization, calling the government “facist and racist.”
He said the NGO’s funds were also frozen, and that there was no way to continue operations.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.