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'If an Arab succeeds in Israel, he has to be a genius'

Marie Copti, mother of Oscar-nominated Ajami director Scandar Copti, said in an interview Monday morning that she was not disappointed with the film’s Hollywood defeat, but rather empowered by its extraordinary success.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Copti stressed that her son had not studied film, but engineering. A lack of opportunities, she said, drove him to tell the story of his Jaffa neighborhood. “If an Arab succeeds in Israel, it goes to show what a genius he is,” she said.
“They say ‘the Jewish state,’ and we [Arab Israelis] are citizens – and as citizens, we are forced to justify our existence,” Copti told the radio station. “We are fighting to be given all our rights and to be equal citizens.”
Asked why her son chose to speak out against Israel in Hollywood despite the financial backing granted to the film, Copti replied, “We pay our taxes, we pay for education and culture.” The “belligerent” government, she said, had an obligation to invest in the cultural projects and endeavors of its taxpayers, whatever their religion, background and allegiance.
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