Meet Mansour Abbas’ radical Jewish adviser - opinion

Dr. Yeela Raanan is a virulently anti-Zionist Jewish-Israeli academic.

MK Mansour Abbas (Ra'am) at the Knesset Plenum, January 3, 2022. (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN - DANNY SHEM TOV)
MK Mansour Abbas (Ra'am) at the Knesset Plenum, January 3, 2022.

It’s sad to have to give credit to a member of the Knesset and governing coalition for declaring, in Arabic, that Israel “was born and will remain a Jewish state.”

But the country’s peculiar political reality, in which members of parliament are hostile to that state, requires stretching logic to its limits. 

It is thus that I have praised Ra’am (United Arab List) Party leader Mansour Abbas for breaking with the tradition of his Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated peers and former less religious yet equally radical colleagues to place the needs of his constituents above the pernicious aspirations of the anti-Zionist, antisemitic, corrupt Palestinian Authority.

The risk he took by splitting from the Joint (Arab) List bloc and adopting a pragmatic approach has paid off big-time. First, he managed to garner for Ra’am the necessary four mandates to cross the electoral threshold. This led to his being crowned “kingmaker” – the head of the party that ended up tipping the scales to enable the formation of a government after four rounds of inconclusive elections. 

Since then, he’s been on a steady roll. No longer a backbencher, he was appointed chairman of the newly created Special Knesset Committee on Arab Affairs. Meanwhile, fellow Ra’am MK Waleed Taha became chairman of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on which Ra’am MK Saeed Alharomi had a seat before his death in August.

MK Mansour Abbas during a discussion on the Electricity Law connecting to Arab and Bedouin towns, during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)MK Mansour Abbas during a discussion on the Electricity Law connecting to Arab and Bedouin towns, during a plenum session in the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, January 5, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)

Abbas has also been successful in his push to increase funding for the Arab sector, plagued by rampant crime and other woes, with a $10 billion allocation included in the recently passed state budget. 

ALL OF the above might have been cause for optimism, albeit cautious, if the Ra’am chief hadn’t just picked a virulently anti-Zionist Jewish-Israeli academic to serve as his adviser on unrecognized villages in the Negev. Indeed, if anything casts a shadow on Abbas’s intentions, it’s his selection of Dr. Yeela Raanan for the role. 

Her background and behavior are particularly worrisome in view of the passage on Wednesday of the “Electricity Law,” a bill proposed in August by Taha, which will allow more than 130,000 Arab Israelis living in homes built illegally – on land designated as agricultural rather than residential – to be hooked up to the national grid and receive electricity, water and phone lines.

It’s not surprising that Raanan’s appointment hasn’t been announced with any fanfare, to put it mildly. Given the history of the public-policy lecturer at the Sapir Academic College in Sderot, who campaigns at home and abroad on behalf of Palestinian “liberation from Israeli occupation” and in favor of anti-Israel boycotts, sanctions and divestment, she’s not exactly the type of figure whom the so-called “change” government would wish to highlight.

Indeed, had it not been for a tweet about it on Tuesday by Yamina MK Amichai Chikli, the sole politician from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party who’s refusing to toe its newfound left-leaning line, Raanan’s position easily could have gone unnoticed. Thanks to his having called attention to it, at least some right-wing outlets ran the item.

Chikli accompanied his post with a video of Raanan participating in a 2018 event, this one in the northern Arab-Israeli city of Sakhnin, to bolster the Hamas-backed “Great March of Return” demonstrations/riots that were held every Friday for a year and a half along the Gaza border. The protesters demanded the return of all Palestinian “refugees” to lands they claim were stolen from them by Israel in 1948. They were also decrying the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the then-US president Donald Trump’s administration.

Raanan can be seen and heard in the clip calling for the erasure of the “fascist regime in Israel” and shouting, “Together, we will liberate Palestine.”

Yes, the “Women Wage Peace” activist whose “skills and expertise” are listed on the site ResearchGate as “gender studies, social and cultural anthropology and feminist theory,” wishes to destroy her country by siding with its openly murderous enemies. Unfortunately for the longtime member of Hadash – Israel’s communist party that morphed into an inclusive far-left, Arab-Jewish alliance – she hasn’t yet made it into the Knesset. 

Ironically, Hadash leader Ayman Odeh heads the Joint List that Abbas left in order to have a literal and figurative seat at the table. Odeh was not pleased. It’s hard to imagine that he’d be happy that Abbas poached Raanan by giving her a job.

IT’S EQUALLY difficult to believe that the Palestinians to whom she is so dedicated would support her working as an adviser to Abbas – Mansour, that is, not PA President Mahmoud – someone they strongly condemned for acknowledging that Israel is a Jewish state.

Calling Mansour Abbas’s remarks on the matter “irresponsible [and] consistent with the calls of extremists in Israel to displace the Palestinians and harm the status of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and the history of the Palestinian people,” Mahmoud Abbas said that his Israeli namesake is part of a “current that promotes the Zionist colonial project.” 

He went on: “It is unfortunate that instead of siding with the rights of his people and condemning the settlements, killings and displacement committed by the occupation and the plans of Israeli extremists to empty Palestinian lands, we see him repeating the lies of the Zionist movement.” 

Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction chimed in, as well, referring to Mansour Abbas’s “cheap alignment with the Zionist narrative, which falsely monopolizes the history of Palestine.”

Ditto for Hamas, Raanan’s neighbors on the other side of the border that separates the terrorist-run enclave from the Jewish community in which she resides. The Palestinians, Hamas said, will “remain steadfast on their historical land and refuse to give up an inch of it.”

Raanan neither would nor does consider the above comments from her Palestinian friends as problematic. When running on the Hadash Knesset slate two years ago, she took a little trip to Ramallah.

The occasion was the anniversary of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 181, adopted on November 29, 1947, to approve the division of British Mandatory Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. The original “two-state solution” was and still is rejected by the Palestinian leadership and much of the populace that it controls.

Thirty years later, in 1977, the UNGA determined that November 29 would henceforth be observed as International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Raanan took the opportunity to give a speech in which she asserted that “robbery, violence and oppression have become the norm” in Israel. Her audience couldn’t have agreed more.

ANYONE WONDERING how such an ideologue could accept an advisory post with the Israeli Abbas who’s now viewed in the PA as a traitor to the Palestinian cause has to understand that the ongoing game of musical Knesset chairs has been making for altogether strange bedfellows.

But the fact that the Ra’am leader chose this particular person to consult on legitimizing “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev bodes ill. Perhaps Mansour Abbas’s Israeli critics should focus less on his Islamic ties and pay more attention to the Jews he recruits to do his bidding.