Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint Arab List.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh headed to Washington Monday evening on a two-week high-profile visit. He is scheduled to meet with senior politicians and administration officials, and to be interviewed by major US media outlets.
Odeh will also visit New York, and in Atlanta he will deliver a speech at Martin Luther King Jr.’s church.
The Israeli Arab leader will meet with members of Congress, officials in the US State Department and White House – as well as activists and representatives from the Palestinian and Jewish communities.
“I am traveling to the US to raise unique issues and problems of the Arab citizens of the state, which have almost no presence in the international discourse,” said Odeh before leaving on his flight.
“A month ago, Netanyahu tried in polished English to hide the fact this his government is based on racial incitement against Arab citizens – and his continued incitement and hatred,” charged the Arab MK from the communist Arab-Jewish Hadash party.
“The only apology that we are going to accept is a complete change in policy that would lead to full equality for Israel’s Arab citizens.” Odeh added that it is impossible to manage the Israel- Palestinian conflict and that it can be solved. Only this will create “a reality of independence and security for both peoples.”
According to Ynet, he will attend a special event in his honor, hosted by Jewish billionaire Daniel Abrahams and a panel at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.
Many Jewish Israelis see Odeh as failing to live up to his election campaign rhetoric, in which he frequently quoted Martin Luther King. With an ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism in Israel, he and his Joint List colleagues have fallen back on the traditional Arab line – echoing the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah – justifying and defending terrorist attacks.
“The uprising and struggle against the ‘occupation’ is natural and expected,” the Joint List leader told a faction meeting in October. While he did say, “We are against any civilian casualties,” he has not specifically come out condemning the recent acts of terrorism. Perhaps he fears losing the support of the Arab street.
Asked by Army Radio host Razi Barkai in October if throwing rocks is part of an armed struggle or legitimate protest, Odeh replied, “I always blame the ‘occupation’ for being guilty. I cannot tell the nation how to struggle, where and at which target to throw the rock. I do not put red lines on the Arab Palestinian nation.”