Israeli-Arab Muslim woman vying for non-Jewish spot in Likud primaries

Dema Taya hails from Kalansuwa in central Israel and lives in Kafr Manda in the Galilee.

Dema Taya, Muslim-Israeli candidate running in Likud prmaries (photo credit: screenshot)
Dema Taya, Muslim-Israeli candidate running in Likud prmaries
(photo credit: screenshot)
Dema Taya, a Muslim woman, is running for the minorities spot in the Likud’s primary next week.
The spot is 30th on the Likud list, making it a realistic one Unlike in the past, it is reserved for someone who has not been an MK before, meaning that Communications Minister Ayoub Kara will no longer be eligible and will have to run against his fellow lawmakers.
Taya, 26, hails from Kalansuwa in central Israel and lives in Kafr Manda in the Galilee. She made a name for herself working with the organization Reservists on Duty, speaking favorably about Israel on college campuses and other venues abroad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted her efforts on his Facebook page, posting a video in which she said on Palestinian TV that “Israel is not an apartheid state and whoever says so should be ashamed. I am proud of Israel.”
Netanyahu called Taya’s remarks “brave and powerful,” and said she is “a voice of truth, full of hope.”
In 2017, Taya said in a Reservists on Duty video: “I’m proud to say that my country, Israel, gives the same rights to all the citizens in Israel. And if we talk about women, women are free and can do whatever they want... If you believe like me in women’s rights, you should support Israel.”
For her primary campaign, Taya produced a video in which she called herself a “proud Israeli” and showed video clips of herself defending Israel and photos of meeting Netanyahu and others, while the Likud jingle played in the background.
“We’ll make history together, and we’ll win together,” the video says.
In an interview with Maariv last week, she said she supports Likud because “it is a strong liberal and social party, and extending a hand to minorities and connecting them is part of their agenda.”
Taya shrugged off Netanyahu’s warning ahead of the 2015 election that masses of Arabs are going to vote, saying, “We shouldn’t forget the good things and the big picture.
“Unfortunately, Arab MKs repeat that line. We should preserve a dialogue and look at the cup as half full,” she said.
Taya criticized Israeli-Arab leaders for trying to stay separate from the rest of Israeli society.
“It’s time for a woman leader for the Arab public, a woman that doesn’t want to [just] talk, and wants to act, to have an impact,” she said.
The Knesset hopeful said her husband, who served in the IDF, is very supportive of her ambitions, but her immediate family is “so-so” about them, even though she said she “grew up in a very liberal atmosphere.”
Taya hopes to fight domestic violence and to promote a positive image for Israel in the world as an MK. She supports national service by Israeli Arabs.
Last week, Sara Zoabi pulled out of the running for the non-Jewish spot on the Likud list. If Zoabi’s last name is familiar, that’s because she’s a distant relative of Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi – but their views are polar opposites. In fact, Sara Zoabi has called for Arab MKs like her relative to be investigated on incitement grounds.
“If this flag makes you feel bad, you’re welcome to go to the nearest Israeli embassy and give up your Israeli passport,” reads the Israeli flag banner atop Sara Zoabi’s Facebook page. “I am a proud Muslim Arab Zionist Israeli woman who believes in the right of the Jewish people to have its own country in the Holy Land, the Land of Israel.”
Zoabi was a candidate on the reality TV show Master Chef in 2015, where she reached public prominence, and declared that she is a Zionist. She’s also known as the mother of Mohammad Zoabi, who posted photos of himself with an Israeli flag during Operation Protective Edge and was met with so many death threats that he went into hiding. MK Zoabi called the teen a “stupid boy” at the time.