Family denounces Muslim Likud candidate, will shun her until she recants

Dima Tayeh announces plan to run in ruling party’s primaries, defends controversial Nation-State Law that many see as discriminatory to Arab minority

Arab Israeli Dima Tayeh who is running as a candidate in the Likud party primaries, seen in an interview with Hadashot news on January 8, 2019 (Screencapture)
Arab Israeli Dima Tayeh who is running as a candidate in the Likud party primaries, seen in an interview with Hadashot news on January 8, 2019 (Screencapture)

The family of a Muslim Israeli woman who is running as a candidate in the primaries of the ruling Likud party denounced her on Wednesday as disloyal to her people and said it would shun her until she recants.

Dima Tayeh, from the village of Kafr Manda in the Galilee, made headlines on Tuesday when she gave an interview on Hadashot TV news announcing she was running in the right-wing party’s primaries, praising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defending the controversial Nation-State Law, which critics see as discriminating against Israel’s Arab minority.

If elected, she would be the first Arab Muslim lawmaker in the Likud party.

On Wednesday, her relatives released a statement saying they “denounce her” and her opinions do not represent them.

“Due to her statements, we will not make contact with her or give her any assistance until she retracts her words and declares loyalty to her people and her faith,” the statement said.

Tayeh, who was among a group of Arab Israelis who toured the US to campaign against the BDS movement that seeks to boycott Israel, said she has been a proud Likud member for six years.

Israeli Arab Activist Dima Tayeh Defends Participation in Anti-BDS Delegation: Israel Is My Country and I Am Proud of ItIsraeli Arab activist Dima Tayeh, who recently participated in an Israeli anti-BDS delegation to the U.S., said in an interview with the Arab-Israeli Musawa TV channel that Israel was a democracy and not an apartheid state. Tayeh said that she was proud of her country. "I wish that all the Arab countries would adopt a democratic system like Israel's," said Tayeh, in response to the Musawa TV interviewer, who said that Israel treats its minorities as "fourth, fifth, or sixth degree" citizens. Tayeh recently participated in a delegation of six members of various Israeli minority groups, organized by the Reservists on Duty non-governmental organization to counter the BDS movement on U.S. college campuses. The interview aired on October 13.

Posted by The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Monday, October 23, 2017

“I believe that the Likud can provide security to the nation, a flourishing economy and can really include varied opinions and cultures,” she told Hadashot.

“I’m proud to run in the Likud primaries, as an Arab, as a woman, as a Muslim who is extending a hand to her community and trying to help them and the State of Israel, and to improve its image.”

During the interview, she defended the recently passed Nation-State Law, saying she had read every sentence and “found nothing racist or discriminatory.”

“I don’t see that it harms minorities or any citizen,” she said. “Israel is a Jewish state and democratic and there is no other country in the Middle East that respects its citizens and gives them as much equality as possible and democracy for all.”

Multiple petitions against the law have been filed with the High Court of Justice by Druze, Arab and Bedouin leaders, rights groups, academics, and the Meretz and Joint List political parties.

Tens of thousands participate in a Druze-led protest in Tel Aviv against the Jewish nation-state law, on August 4, 2018. (Adam Rasgon/Times of Israel staff)

Petitioners argued that the law contravenes the basis of Israel’s legal system, as well as its Declaration of Independence, by enshrining inequality among its citizens.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit countered that claim, saying the law does not violate minority rights because it does not override Israel’s previous semi-constitutional Basic Laws that guarantee them equality.

The Nation-State Law, passed by the Knesset in July, enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” and says “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

It also defines Arabic as a language with a “special” status, effectively downgrading it from its de facto status as Israel’s second official language, though it cryptically stipulates that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.”

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