Racist wing in Israel has Trump on its back: Israeli Arab leader

Racist wing in Israel has Trump on its back: Israeli Arab leader

Sevil Erkuş - JERUSALEM
Racist wing in Israel has Trump on its back: Israeli Arab leader

Since U.S. President Donald Trump’s rise to power, discrimination towards Arabs in Israel has risen as racist groups feel emboldened by the belief Trump supports them, according to Ayman Odeh, the head of Joint List, a political alliance of four Arab-dominated parties in Israel.

“Since Trump’s election, we have witnessed a rise in racist bills targeting the Arab minority here in the Knesset. When you hear Vice President Pence speak about Israel and Palestine, you would think he was a member of the most right-wing group in the Knesset. There is no doubt that Trump’s election put wind in the sails of racist right-wing groups,” Odeh told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 11.

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel will “not change the reality” on the ground, according to Odeh. “You cannot find even a single Arab who would accept or understand Trump’s declaration … Jerusalem still has a majority Arab and Palestinian population, and one day Jerusalem will be the capital of a Palestinian state. The only real change is that the U.S. can no longer be the sole broker of peace negotiations,” he said.

“A few years ago Netanyahu appeared alone. More and more countries were isolating him. But with the election of right-wing leaders across the world over the past two years Netanyahu has never felt more at home,” Odeh added.

He also said Israel was shifting to the right, a development “felt by the people in their day-to-day lives, including working places.”

“The right wing has taken hold of the country and controls most of the institutions,” he said.


Likud lawmaker: Wonderful event

Israeli Likud Party lawmaker Rabi Yehuda Glick, however, said Trump’s decision should not interfere with the process of normalizing Turkey-Israel relations.

“If Turkey wants to use Trump’s announcement as an excuse not to normalize relations with Israel, that’s not our fault. Don’t complain to anybody about it. Refer to Israel as a close neighbor and ally. Turkey gains a lot from Israeli tourism. The friction only causes damage to Turkey. If our tourists can’t go to Turkey, they can go to Greece or Cyprus. We would not suffer, you would suffer,” Glick told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 11.

Glick is known for his radical stance. Living in one of Israel’s contentious West Bank settlements, Glick survived an attempted assassination three years ago but continued his political career unabashed, entering the Knesset in 2016.

He described Trump’s Jerusalem decision as a “wonderful, historical event.”

“Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” Glick said, adding that a “peace process cannot begin without recognizing the facts.”

“Those who try to bring violence but blame Trump for bringing violence are the violent people. The people who want violence are using the U.S. president’s statements as an excuse. The people who support terror are always looking for excuses,” he said.

“Maybe in the short term we will see some violence. But as long as we stay determined we will overcome terrorist activities,” he added.


Palestinians ‘have lost hope in future’

Meanwhile, a student from the West Bank city of Ramallah told the Hürriyet Daily News on Dec. 10 that the Palestinians have lost “hope in their future,” criticizing Hamas rule for not pursuing the peace process effectively.

“Trump’s decision abandons the so-called peace process. Jerusalem is highly critical of the process. But I doubt there will be an intifada. I don’t call this an intifada. People are just disappointed,” Shadi Salamah said.

He was born in Bethlehem in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, and currently studies U.S. politics in a masters’ program in Tel-Aviv.

“Those who are throwing stones are teenagers ... Hamas is calling for an intifada but what have they done for Gaza up to now?” he Salamah said, adding that he “doesn’t see any hope for the future.”