Reform movement blasts Odeh move to snub Presidents’ Conference

The Reform movement expresses “deep disappointment” in the refusal of an Arab-Israeli lawmaker to enter a meeting with US Jewish leaders because it was taking place in space shared by the Jewish Agency.

“This was an opportunity for us to engage in the complexities of the issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the internal Jewish-Arab issues in Israel,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism said in a statement issued Friday, a day after Ayman Odeh, who heads the Joint (Arab) List, the third largest faction in the Knesset, refused to enter the offices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

A meeting with the conference “would have provided another opportunity to further the conversation and come closer to a solution,” Jacobs said.

“I was pleased and proud that the Conference of Presidents decided to invite MK Odeh to the meeting,” he said. “I am profoundly disappointed by MK Ayman Odeh’s decision to walk away from that important opportunity for him, for the cause of equality in Israel, and for the Conference of Presidents.”

Leader of the Joint Arab list, Ayman Odeh leads the weekly Joint Arab list meeting at the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, October 12, 2015. (Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Leader of the Joint (Arab) List, Ayman Odeh, leads the faction’s weekly meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 12, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Odeh refused to enter the premises, citing the Jewish Agency’s role in advancing immigration to Israel and its affiliation with the Jewish National Fund and the World Zionist Organization. He said that policies favoring Jewish immigration to Israel are seen among Israeli Arabs as a means of demographically marginalizing them, that the JNF, which administers much of the land in Israel, discriminates against non-Jews and that the WZO funds settlement in the West Bank.


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