Turning point

Talking to Arab candidate Ramadan Dabbash about his run for city council

Ramadan Dabbash (photo credit: Courtesy)
Ramadan Dabbash
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The prospects of an Arab candidate for the Jerusalem city council was up in the air for a while, but  when Dr. Ramadan Dabbash announced his candidacy about three months ago, it wad much of a surprise. Dabbash is known for his independent attitude regarding the position of Arab residents in local politics. Dabbash holds Israeli citizenship, something that adds to his capacity to ignore potential threats from the traditional opponents to any kind of “normalization” of the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
His “Jerusalem Is My City” list has 13 Palestinian candidates and seeks to capture several seats.
What made you decide to run for a seat in city hall this time?
I have understood that there are clear rules of the game. I realized I had no choice than to play by these rules.
But for 51 years, Arab residents of Jerusalem have by and large boycotted these elections – out of fear or just because they don’t believe it will change anything.
This is true, but I want to change things and I play by the rules. You say that Israel is a democracy, let’s see if democratic steps work.
Who will vote for you?
First of all, I hope my fellow residents of my village, Sur Bahir, will join and support me. I work alone; it is very difficult. I have no fund-raisers; I spend my own money and I have very little help – if any at all – on the administrative side. But I believe I am doing the right thing.
Are there any threats?
I don’t care. What other alternative do we have? We live here, we get nothing out of our taxes, we pay all the taxes, the municipality takes our money and gives us nothing in return. It’s time that we, the Palestinians of Jerusalem, sit at the city council and request our rights.
If elected, will you strive to join the coalition under any elected mayor?
Yes. I want to be part of the rules of the game and obtain our rights. But I need the help of the Israelis, I need Jewish residents to vote for me, otherwise it will be perhaps impossible.