For the first time, a prominent representative of Israel's Arab population plans to fly to the US for two weeks of diplomatic meetings. Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh is to visit Washington for his first diplomatic visit. All of the Israeli Arab parties united in the most recent (March 2015) elections, forming the Joint List, now the Knesset's third-largest party. Since Odeh is now considered a kind of leader of the Israeli-Arab public, he has been invited to Washington.
Odeh is expected to meet with senior White House and state department members, and his staff is still attempting to arrange meetings with the highest-ranking diplomats in the American capital. During his stay in Washington, Odeh is to attend a special event in his honor, hosted by billionaire Daniel Abrahams. Dozens of ambassadors from around the world are expected. Odeh is also expected to visit IN headquarters in New York and meet with a number of UN ambassadors, including the Palestinian ambassador.
Later on, Odeh is to meet with some of the leading media sources in the US. He'll give interviews and speak with management, reporters, and pundits at the the Washington Post, the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Nation, and the Huffington Post.
MK Odeh will later fly to Atlanta, where he is scheduled to meet leaders of the American civil rights movement and give a speech at Dr. Martin Luther King's chirch. After that Odeh will meet with and speak in front of a gathering of 100 reform Jewish rabbis.
Odeh is expected to speak at a roundtable-style panel at the liberal think-tank CAP (Center for American Progress), where PM Benjamin Netanyahu spoke recently. Speculations have risen that CAP agreed to host Odeh because of the heavy criticism the institute received after it invited Netanyahu.
On the eve of his departure, Odeh said: "The issues that matter to Israel's Arab Citizens are hardly represented in the international conversation. I'm going to the US 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."
He continued: "Its seems that the predominant tone as far as the Israeli-Palestinian issue is concerned is simply despair. I come with the clear message – we don't have the privilege of despairing. Less than a month after Netanyahu's visit to the US 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."