Politicians take flak all the time, but rarely while on live TV and from the mayor of the town in which they are standing.
But Joint (Arab) List head Ayman Odeh was preparing for an outside interview by a Channel 2 news crew Sunday evening in Nazareth when Mayor Ali Salem rolled up and hurled abuse at him.
“Ayman, go busy yourself elsewhere, you’ve ruined the city for us!” Salem shouted in Arabic from the window of his white sedan after it pulled alongside his fellow Arab politician, cameras rolling. Odeh, stunned, turns blankly as the abuse piles on. “Get out of here, enough with the interviews. You ruined the city for us.
“You’ve ruined everything, go to Haifa!
“There wasn’t a single Jew here today. Not even one!”
The Arab MK turns and attempts to get a word in edgewise, but shrugs and says, “What happened to you?”
Odeh, 40, heads the largest Arab Knesset faction in Israel’s history, a merger of three parties. He heads the largest contingent in the Joint List — the socialist Hadash party — and was swept into office earlier this year after taking the reins of the united party in the lead-up to the March 2015 elections.
As Salem continued to rant, Odeh attempted to walk over to his car and talk with him more privately, but was hindered by the earpiece and mic he was wearing.
Switching to Hebrew, Salem shouted, “What are you doing to us? You don’t do anything! You burned the world! Shut up! Get out of here.”
Channel 2 captured the whole altercation and uploaded it to the web (but the brief clip is only available in Arabic and Hebrew).
Earlier in the day Salem, the mayor of Israel’s most populous Arab city, criticized Arab Knesset members for their role in recent violent demonstrations, saying in two separate interviews to the Israeli media that their actions were detrimental to the Palestinians of Israel.
“I blame the leaders; they are destroying our future, they are destroying coexistence,” Salem told Army Radio.
Salem told Army Radio that he saw Odeh at a violent protest in Nazareth Thursday night, and told him to leave. “I said to him, get out of here — I don’t need to see you in Nazareth.”
He said that while he disapproves of Israel’s actions on the Temple Mount, the Israeli Arab leadership must make their voices heard in an appropriate manner.
“We need to find a way to live together. We cannot fight like this. We are damaging ourselves,” he told Israel’s Walla website site.