Is there room in the Israeli public conversation for a Jewish radio program host to express a sense of identification with a Bedouin citizen of Israel?
Israel’s Army Radio fired a program host on Wednesday afternoon after she expressed empathy for a Bedouin man who was shot and killed during what police said was an attempted terrorist attack on them just hours earlier.
Khen Elmaleh was dismissed by Army Radio Commander Yaron Deckel after publishing a Facebook status sympathetic to a Bedouin driver whose car struck and killed 34-year-old police officer Erez Levy. “I would also run over a police officer if I were being removed from my home in order to make room for a town built for those more powerful than me,” she wrote.
Elmaleh was referring to the police shooting of Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, a resident of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran in the Negev. The incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning as police forces were amassing to preside over the destruction of the village. The government ordered plans replace it with a town for Jewish citizens of Israel. Police claimed they opened fire on Abu Qi’an after he deliberately drove his vehicle toward a cluster of security forces at the scene.
But local residents and activists at the scene have vociferously denied the police narrative. According to eyewitnesses, Qi’an lost control of his vehicle after police opened fire. A video released by Channel 10 news later in the day appears to back the residents’ version. [Click here for more background on Umm al-Hiran]
After he fired Elmaleh, Army Radio Commander Yaron Deckel tweeted that those who support running over police have no place in the radio station. Elmaleh eventually deleted the status of her own accord.
Elmaleh, a prominent Tel Aviv-based DJ who hosts a weekly music program featuring popular Mizrahi and Arabic music, published her status alongside a famous photo of Shimon Yehoshua, a Mizrahi resident of the south Tel Aviv neighborhood Kfar Shalem, which was taken immediately after he was shot and killed by police at a protest against government evictions in 1982. Yehoshua’s home, like that of Abu Qi’an, was at imminent risk of demolition.
Elmaleh’s post was a sincere attempt at putting oneself in another’s...Read More