Conference of Presidents Blasts Arab MK

Ayman Odeh (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Ayman Odeh (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Knesset Member Ayman Odeh, Chairman of the Joint List of Arab Parties, refused to fulfill his commitment to speak before a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations because the Conference’s premises are shared with the Jewish Agency and other Zionist groups, according to a press release by the Conference.

In the press release, Conference Chairman Stephen Greenberg and Executive Vice President Malcolm Hoenlein said they are “deeply disturbed and shocked” at Odeh’s refusal to address the Conference.

Greenberg and Hoenlein said they had “received several suggestions that MK Ayman Odeh be invited and, in keeping with the Conference’s decades long tradition of providing a forum for a wide variety of points of view on issues affecting the American Jewish community’s agenda, we extended the invitation. We have had leaders of virtually every faction and party in the United States, Israel, from friendly and unfriendly countries, and none ever refused to appear. For a member of the Knesset to assert that he will not enter a premises because it has an association with Zionist entities, like the Jewish Agency, is disturbing and dismaying.”

Furthermore, Greenberg and Hoenlein said, “We now understand the recent demand of the Mayor of the Nazareth, Ali Salem, that Odeh leave his city because his presence promotes divisiveness. Citing the participation of Arab leaders in some recent violent demonstrations, Mayor Salem said, ‘I blame the leaders; they are destroying our future, they are destroying coexistence.’ ”

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said, “It is unfortunate that members of Knesset from the Joint List are more interested in scoring cheap and expedient political points than they are in advancing the well-being of their communities.

“We have had leaders of virtually every faction and party in the United States, Israel, from friendly and unfriendly countries, and none ever refused to appear. For a member of the Knesset to assert that he will not enter a premises because it has an association with Zionist entities, like the Jewish Agency, is disturbing and dismaying.”