Photo: Yoed Cohen
Sakhnin Mayor Ghanaim supports boycott
Photo: Yoed Cohen

Arabs boycott Jewish-Arab conference

Union of Arab organizations refuses to accept help from Zionist groups attending conference

The Union of Arab Community-Based Associations, or Ittijah, has called for a boycott of a Jewish-Arab conference scheduled to take place Tuesday in Sakhnin, in which Jewish-American organizations are also slated to participate.


"We call on (Arabs) not to cooperate with the global Zionist movement," Ittijah said in a statement. "We will not allow them to be a part of our fate."


Among those who support the boycott is Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanaim, who was scheduled to speak at the opening of the conference. He will be replaced by a spokesman for the municipality.


"Even when the establishment of a multi-organization team for Israeli-Arabs was announced, we were opposed," said Ittijah head Amir Makhoul. "We objected then and we object today to the intervention in our business. For us this is a contradiction – we object to the existence of a Jewish-Zionist state and that is why we refuse to be assisted by Jewish organizations."


Ittijah has prepared a lobby calling for the boycott. "We have called out to the organizations as well as the Sakhnin Municipality," Makhoul said.


"We advertised in newspapers and all Arab media, and to our delight it worked. Sakhnin's mayor decided to boycott the conference, as well as the CEO of A-Zahara organization for the rights of Arab women. I promise to continue the battle, so that in the future there will be no ties with the Zionist coalition and their entrance into Arab villages will not be permitted."


'Mayor made a mistake'

But organizers of the conference were critical of the boycott. "It's very unfortunate that the mayor of Sakhnin has chosen not to arrive. I think he is making a mistake," said Amiram Goldin, who runs the Shatil Israel Fund's Galilee branch.


Goldin said the mayor would have found a stage to air his grievances at the conference. "The Jewish organizations have not donated any funds to the Arab sector for years," he added.


Baker Awada, one of the writers of the report to be presented to the Knesset, agreed with Goldin.


"Mazen dropped the ball. He should have stood here today, placed a mirror before everyone's eyes, and shown that the situation is intolerable. We are not demanding of the Jewish organizations to solve all our problems, but we need to use the tools we have wisely," Awada explained.


The conference, at which Minister for Minority Affairs Avishai Braverman is also scheduled to appear, will eventually be summed up in a report.


In 2008 the conference's report concluded that organizations attempting to bridge the gaps between Jews and Arabs were running into difficulties stemming form the wariness and disbelief existing between the two populations.


"The report shows that if something doesn't happen soon, things will explode and then we will certainly be unable to bridge the gaps," Awada said.


פרסום ראשון: 11.17.09, 14:52
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