AYMAN ODEH (Arabic : أيمن عودة, Hebrew : איימן
עודה; born 1 January 1975) is an
Israeli-Arab lawyer and
politician. He is a member of the
Knesset , and head of the Joint
List , a political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties - Hadash,
Balad , the
United Arab List , and Ta\'al .
* 1 Biography
* 2 Political career
* 3 Award and recognition
* 4 Views and opinions
* 5 Shin Bet interrogations
* 6 Life threats
* 7 References
* 8 External links
Ayman Odeh was born in 1975, and raised in
Haifa , within the Kababir
neighbourhood. He was the only Muslim student in his Christian school,
but now describes himself as having transcended the confines of
religion and ethnicity. He identifies as a socialist. Odeh is
married to Nardine Aseli, a physician, and has three children.
Odeh joined Hadash, and represented it on
Haifa City Council between
1998 and 2005, before becoming the party's secretary-general in 2006.
He was placed 75th on the party's list for the 2009 elections , in
Hadash won four seats. He won sixth place on the party's list
for the 2013
Knesset elections , but failed to enter the Knesset, as
the party again won four seats.
Following the announcement that
Mohammed Barakeh was
resigning prior to the 2015 elections , Odeh was elected as the
party's new leader. In the buildup to the 2015 elections, Hadash
Joint List , an alliance of the main Arab parties. Odeh was
placed at the head of the Joint List's electoral list, which is
expected to put him at the head of a significant parliamentary faction
in the new Knesset. Analysts credited the charismatic Odeh for giving
the Arab political union a more moderate, pragmatic face. Odeh was
elected to the 20th
Knesset , along with 12 other candidates from the
In an interview with The Times of
Israel , Odeh discussed the Joint
List's social agenda, including a 10-year plan to tackle issues
pertinent to the Arab sector, such as employment of women,
rehabilitation of failing regional councils, recognition of
Bedouin communities in the
Negev , public transportation
in Arab towns, and eradication of violence. He also said he supported
the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in Israel, adding
that a Palestinian state should fulfill the same goals for Arab
Odeh's campaign for the March 2015 elections had a "breakthrough
moment" when, in a televised debate of candidates,
Avigdor Lieberman ,
Israel's foreign minister, called Odeh a "Palestinian citizen" and
said Odeh was not welcome in Israel. Odeh replied, "I am very welcome
in my homeland. I am part of the nature, the surroundings, the
landscape", contrasting his birth in
Israel with Lieberman's
immigration from the former Soviet Union. Odeh is now viewed as a
potential power broker given that Arab parties appear to be uniting to
meet the government's requirement that parties meet a minimum
threshold of votes to secure a place in the Knesset. Odeh has a style
that contrasts with that of MK Haneen Zoabi, who is more
confrontational. Odeh voices his willingness to work with Jewish
partners, and he often quotes
Martin Luther King, Jr .
AWARD AND RECOGNITION
* Listed as top 100 leading global thinkers by Foreign Policy
* Listed as top 100 influenctial by The Marker magazine for the year
2016, and was listed in the 9th place .
* Listed as top 100 influenctial by The Marker magazine for the year
VIEWS AND OPINIONS
Odeh says his service in the
Haifa city council made it clear to him
that Arabs and Jews must work together. He describes
Haifa as "the
most liberal multicultural yet homogenous city in Israel".
Odeh has also expressed strong support for increasing recognition of
Mizrahi culture and Arab Jewish history in official Israeli and
Palestinian discourses; in a widely cited speech to the
in July 2015, MK Odeh argued that the State of
systematically discriminated against and suppressed the culture of
Jews who immigrated to
Israel from Arab and Muslim lands (who make up
the majority of the Israeli population) in order to feed the idea of a
natural separation between Jews and Arabs. He also argued that the
large role played by Jews in forming historical and modern Arab
culture (including famous Jews such as Rabbi David Buzaglo, who wrote
Jewish religious poetry primarily in Arabic, and famous Jews who were
popular in the Arab world in the mid-20th Century, such as Leila Murad
), has been forgotten by Jews and Arabs alike due to the ideological
elements of the
Arab Israeli conflict , and the desire by Israel's
elite to portray a Western image of Jews and of the country. Odeh
called upon Jewish and Arab members of the
Knesset alike to support a
Knesset committee (which he had joined as a member) lobbying for
the re-emphasizing of the culture of Jews from Arab and Muslim lands.
In that speech, Odeh summarized his position thus: "The culture of the
Jews of Arab and Islamic countries is a shared Jewish and Arab
culture. Because of this, the state has fought it, and yet because of
this , we must fight to strengthen it."
Odeh says, "We represent those who are invisible in this country, and
we give them a voice. We also bring a message of hope to all people,
not just to the Arabs, but to the Jews, too".
In October 2015, Odeh gave support to the "unarmed Palestinian
Condemning the attacks in
Belgium , on March 22nd, 2016,
Odeh stated: "ISIS is the enemy of all mankind."
In February 2016, Odeh considered resigning from the
Knesset to show
his protest against Controversial MK suspension bill.
SHIN BET INTERROGATIONS
Israeli internal intelligence agency, The Shin Bet interrogated Odeh
many times in the past. He said in an interview to
The New Yorker
The New Yorker : "I
was called three more times by the Shin Bet. They never hit me. But
they succeeded in two things. I isolated myself from my friends - I
became much more introverted. And I had the sense the Shin Bet was
watching me no matter where I went. When I went to the bus station,
and I saw some guy in sunglasses, I just assumed he was Shin Bet."
A right-wing activist was arrested in February 2016 for making death
threats against Odeh. On 18 January 2017, Odeh was injured as he
protested against the demolition of the
Bedouin village of Umm
al-Hiran ; Odeh claimed he was shot in the head with a sponge-tipped
Arik Ascherman , who was present at the incident, wrote
I was an eyewitness to the attack on MK Ayman Odeh. He approached the
police, with his hands in the air, and announced that he was an MK.
Officers, undoubtedly furious, and even more aggressive than usual
because a fellow officer had been struck, said that they didn’t
care. They began pushing and striking. Some officers began lashing out
with their rifles. I and many others were pepper sprayed. Stumbling
after Oudeh in retreat, sponge covered bullets whizzed past my ears.
MK Oudeh was shot in the back by one of them, and fell to the ground.
Israel Police claimed that he was hit by stones thrown by other
According to the report issued by the
Abu Kabir Forensic Institute
Abu Kabir Forensic Institute on
the basis of an examination conducted by Dr. Maya Furman-Resnick, 'the
injuries "were consistent" with injuries caused by sponge-tipped
bullets', though "(i)t is not possible to nail down the form of the
injurious objects, but at the same time, the location of the injury
and the form could have been caused as claimed". Public Security
Gilad Erdan hailed the report as a vindication, asserting
that Odeh was a "lying lawbreaker who has fanned the flames and stood
at the head of a violent group". The Israeli police denied any
statement had previously been issued regarding the circumstances of
* ^ A B C Laub, Karin (4 March 2015). "Rise of pragmatic Arab
politician shakes up Israeli politics".
Associated Press . Archived
from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
* ^ Rettig Gur, Haviv (27 February 2015). "TV debate exposes
Israel\'s good, bad and ugly". Retrieved 3 April 2015.
Knesset website (in Hebrew)
* ^ Zahalka wins Balad primaries, Odeh to lead Hadash, Times of
Israel , 17 January 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2015
* ^ A B Miller, Elhanan (4 March 2015). "After uniting Arabs behind
Ayman Odeh looks to lead opposition". Times of
Israel . Retrieved
3 April 2015.
* ^ Shrenzel,
Israel (28 February 2015). "The joint Arab list:
Careful who you vote for".
Haaretz . Retrieved 3 April 2015.
* ^ "20th
Knesset to be sworn in March 31, 2015".
of Foreign Affairs. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
* ^ תוצאות האמת של הבחירות לכנסת ה-20 (IN
HEBREW). ISRAELI CENTRAL ELECTIONS COMMITTEE . RETRIEVED 29 MARCH
* ^ Hadid, Diaa (15 March 2015). "Arab Alliance Rises as Force in
The New York Times
The New York Times . Retrieved 3 April 2015.
* ^ "Israeli Arab Party Leader Makes Foreign Policy\'s 100 leading
Global Thinkers List". haaretz.com.
* ^ "For Uniting Israel\'s Arabs". foreignpolicy.com.
* ^ "
Ayman Odeh 100 most influenctial". themarker.com.
* ^ themarker.com . Missing or empty title= (help )
* ^ Schulman, Marc (6 March 2015). "Israeli Election: What Do
Israeli Arabs Want?".