The Jewish American establishment clearly cannot handle an Arab non-Zionist with the chutzpah to assert his right to be treated respectfully and equally in his own country.
Ayman Odeh’s decision to visit the United States and meet with Jewish community leaders cannot have been an easy one. The burden of scrutiny has been heavy indeed, from all sides. His own constituents, the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, were ambivalent at best about what many perceived as a mission that would either be co-opted to soften the perception of Israel’s policies toward its Arab citizens, or twisted to undermine both Odeh and the credibility of his party’s platform.
With Jewish community leaders so firmly supportive of the Netanyahu government, and the United States so committed to its unbreakable alliance with Israel that it had not undertaken a single step to end the occupation in over two decades, many worried that Odeh’s bridge building mission would be misinterpreted as asking for favors.
To a certain extent, these concerns were borne out by events on December 10, when Odeh backed out of a meeting with the Conference of Presidents, a major Jewish NGO umbrella group, because the chairman insisted on holding the meeting in the same office as the Jewish Agency. This is the same Jewish Agency that has been directly involved in hundreds of initiatives to establish new residential communities for Jewish Israelis on land that was expropriated from Palestinians.
Rather than show some sensitivity to Odeh’s point of view, the president of the Conference of Presidents, Malcolm Hoenlein, refused not only to hold the meeting in another room but also immediately released a statement in which he accused Odeh of canceling the meeting.
Later, Hoenlein told the Forward that he saw no reason to “succumb” to Odeh’s request that the meeting be moved to another room (even though it was Hoenlein who had asked for the meeting and Odeh was his guest). Hoenlein also told the Forward, “It’s outrageous that a member of Knesset would say that I can’t go into a place because it has Zionist associations.” Hoenlein added: “He doesn’t have a problem taking [his Knesset] paycheck.”
Hoenlein’s response is, to be kind, monumentally inappropriate. Not to mention: arrogant and entitled beyond belief. Hoenlein is a Jewish citizen of the United States who is the unelected head of an NGO that espouses political opinions far to the right...Read More