A radical Israeli Arab sheikh at the head of one of the country’s strongest Islamist movements rejected claims that Palestinians have missed the boat on the Arab Spring, saying in an interview published Monday morning that Arabs in Israel are engaged in “mass protests.”
Sheikh Raed Saleh also rebuffed claims he is anti-Semitic and said it was impossible to say Arabs in Israel enjoy wider rights then their brethren in the region.
“We are not keeping quiet about injustice for one second. We choose to adopt peaceful ways to fight injustice, and we still follow this method,” Saleh told the Los Angeles Times, adding that demonstrators were stopped when shot at by Israeli troops.
When asked why Arabs in other countries who had also been fired upon kept protesting, but Israeli Arabs had not, the former Umm al-Fahm mayor responded that there are indeed still mass protests.
“Our activities are continuous and we move from one issue to another,” he said.
Saleh, head of the hard-line Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, has been arrested by Israel several times and recently successfully fought a deportation order from Britain while there on a speaking tour.
The arrests have served to bolster his popular image among Arabs in Israel.
When asked whether Israel had a right to exist Saleh would only say that Israel was “a fact.” However he also called for Israeli Arabs to form governing committees to oversee everything from natural resources to foreign relations.