Labor candidate apologizes for remarks rejecting Memorial Day remembrance

Arab Israeli film producer Ibtisam Mara’ana, 7th on Labor slate, says she’s sorry for offense she caused by ignoring siren, adds she now observes customary 2 minutes of silence

Director Ibtisam Mara'ana-Menuhin at a screening of a 2017 documentary film which she produced (courtesy)
Director Ibtisam Mara'ana-Menuhin at a screening of a 2017 documentary film which she produced (courtesy)

A Labor party candidate for the Knesset apologized Saturday for declaring in the past that she had deliberately ignored an annual two minutes of silence held on Memorial Day.

Ibtisam Mara’ana, an Arab Israeli who is seventh on the left-wing party’s slate following recent primaries, has faced a petition filed by fellow Labor members to have her candidacy annulled over the remarks, as well as others she has made that the petitioners consider anti-Zionist or supportive of terror.

The controversy stemmed from a 2012 social media post by Mara’ana in which she wrote that she had continued to drive her car as the annual memorial siren sounded. The majority of drivers in Israel stop during the siren and stand by their vehicle.

In the 2012 social media post, Mara’ana wrote, “I did not stand during the siren, I was driving while the whole country was almost silent. I decided to keep going and there were two wonderful minutes during the siren. The road was empty, I kept thinking about what really interested me at that moment.”

Speaking to Channel 12 News Saturday, Mara’ana said she had written the post a long time ago, and added that she now observes the siren when outdoors. She said she would not write the same thing today.

“I stand up during the siren when I am outside,” she said. She apologized for hurting “a mother, father, brother or sister who lost their daughter or son — it doesn’t matter what the reasons are.”

However, Mara’ana claimed the outcry against her was due to a double standard regarding the country’s Arab population.

“If I were not an Arab, would I be facing what I am facing?” she asked. “Would they call me a terrorist?”

Israelis stand next to their cars at the entrance to the city of Jerusalem, as a two minute siren marking Holocaust Remembrance Day is sounded across Israel, April 28, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Next week the Central Elections Committee will consider a petition to have Mara’ana’s candidacy canceled.

It claims Mara’ana has, through other social media posts, rejected Israel as a Jewish state and shown support for terror acts.

The petition was filed by Labor member Maozia Segal, an IDF veteran who was badly injured during his service. It is backed by other party members as well as the right-wing Likud and New Hope parties.

Responding to her Saturday night apology, Segal said he rejects Mara’ana’s “cynical attempts to distance herself from her racist and anti-Zionist remarks,” the Walla news website reported.

Mara’ana, a documentary filmmaker, hails from a northern Arab Israeli town, but identifies as Palestinian. She is married to a Jewish Israeli.

The March 23 elections will be the fourth round of voting in the past two years.

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