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.
2 Political career
3 Award and recognition
4 Views and opinions
5 Shin Bet interrogations
6 Life threats
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 joined the
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 magazine
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 new
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
[against] it, and yet because of this [same reason], we must fight to
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 Brussels, 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: "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
bullet. Rabbi 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
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 [with certainty]
the form of the injurious objects, but at the same time, the location
of the injury and the form could have been caused as [Odeh]
claimed". Public Security Minister
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 Odeh's injury.
^ 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 him,
Ayman Odeh looks to lead opposition". Times of Israel. Retrieved 3
Israel (28 February 2015). "The joint Arab list: Careful
who you vote for". Haaretz. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
Knesset to be sworn in March 31, 2015".
Israel Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
^ תוצאות האמת של הבחירות לכנסת ה-20 [Actual
results of the 20th
Knesset elections] (in Hebrew). Israeli Central
Elections Committee. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
^ Hadid, Diaa (15 March 2015). "Arab Alliance Rises as Force in
Israeli Elections". 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.
Missing or empty title= (help)
^ Schulman, Marc (6 March 2015). "Israeli Election: What Do Israeli
Arabs Want?". Newsweek. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
^ Odeh, Ayman (15 July 2015). "Arab Israelis must help to save and
promote the culture of the Jews from Arab lands". Speech to the
Israel (in Hebrew). Retrieved 21 July 2015.
^ Author's translation. Original source in Hebrew:
^ "Israel's Arab political parties have united for the first time".
^ Ben Solomon, Ariel (October 6, 2015). "Odeh: I do not put limits on
the Palestinian struggle against 'occupation'". The Jerusalem
Ayman Odeh in response to
Belgium attacks: 'ISIS is the enemy of
all mankind'". jpost.com.
^ "Joint List's Odeh threatens to resign from
Knesset if bill is used
to remove Balad MKs". jpost.com.
^ Remnick, David (25 January 2016). "Seeds of Peace". The New Yorker.
Retrieved 31 May 2016.
^ Gancman, Lee (11 February 2016). "Right-winger arrested for death
threats against chairman, Arab party says". Times of Israel. Retrieved
31 May 2016.
Arik Ascherman 'Eyewitness Account of the Preventable Umm Al Hiran
Tragedy,' The Times of
Israel 26 January 2017
Protesters claim injured Arab-Israeli MK shot in
Negev clashes] The
Jerusalem Post, 18 January 2017
^ 'Fear and loathing in Umm al-Hiran,' The Times of Israel, 19 January
^ a b Jack Khoury, Jonathan Lis, 'Forensic Probe Fails to Determine
Israeli Arab Lawmaker at
Bedouin Village Protest,'
Haaretz 1 February 2017
Ayman Odeh on the
Party political offices
Leader of Hadash
Leader of the Joint List
Current members of the Knesset
Governing coalition (ministers in bold)
The Jewish Home
United Torah Judaism