Arab MK Goes to U.S. for High-Profile Visit

YERUSHALAYIM -
Leader of the Joint Arab List, Ayman Odeh. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Leader of the Joint Arab List, Ayman Odeh. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh is the first Arab-Israeli political leader to make a high-level diplomatic trip to the United States, where he plans to meet with Obama administration officials and ambassadors in Washington and New York.

Odeh’s itinerary includes two weeks of meetings with senior White House and State Department members, and dozens of ambassadors from around the world, including the Palestinian ambassador at the United Nations, according to Ynet.

The purpose of the visit is not a mere goodwill tour. The Joint List chairman has been a bitter critic of Netanyahu, reflected  by remarks made on the eve of his departure:

“Less than a month after Netanyahu’s visit to the U.S. and his half-apology, I go so that I may tell the hard truth about him and the government in Israel, which rose to power through racist incitement against Arab citizens.”

He is scheduled to convey that message to leading news media representatives, including the Washington Post, The New York Times, the New Yorker, the Nation, and the Huffington Post.

In Atlanta, he is to meet leaders of the American civil rights movement and give a speech at Dr. Martin Luther King’s church.

Odeh is expected to participate in a panel discussion at the liberal think-tank CAP (Center for American Progress), where Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke recently. It has been suggested that CAP agreed to host Odeh because of the criticism it received after hosting Netanyahu.

“The issues that matter to Israel’s Arab citizens are hardly represented in the international conversation. I’m going to the U.S. to bring that voice with me to influencing sources and opinion leaders, and to create contacts and connections with the progressive and civil rights movements,” Odeh said.