Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

{Originally posted to the MIDA website}

“I believe in the right of the Jewish people to have their own state, to have a Jewish nation-state, with full equal rights to all its citizens living in Israel, including its Arab citizens”, says Sarah Zoabi, a resident of Nazareth and an activist for Israeli advocacy, after the media storm that occurred at the beginning of the week caused by Rotem Sela.

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In a post written by Rotem Sela in her Instagram account last Saturday night, the actress and TV host wrote: “When in hell will anyone in this government tell to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all human beings are born equal, including the Arabs?”

The post drew reactions from across the political system, including Prime Minister Netanyahu who responded to Sela and wrote: “Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people – and only [of the Jewish people]. As you wrote, there is no problem with the Arab citizens of Israel – they have equal rights as all of us and the Likud government invested more in the Arab sector than any other government.”

In a conversation with “Mida”, Sarah Zoabi also criticized Rotem Sela’s words. “With all due respect to Rotem Sela, I think she lives in a Tel Aviv bubble without being aware of what is happening [outside of it] and may be she understand the world of celebrity, but she certainly does not understand politics.” According to Zoabi: “I was privileged to be a citizen of a country that respects my honor, which gives me freedom of expression and of religion.”

“Who is Rotem Sela talking about sitting in the government? About Ayman Odeh, who went to Barghouti the murderer and told him that in the future they would travel together in Jerusalem? Or about Ahmed Tibi that praises shaheeds and murderers of Jews?” Zoabi wondered and added: “many Arabs think like me, but not many have the courage to tell the truth. This is a difficult truth to say in our society. We have to stop whining and complaining. I want Arabs who are proud of their Israeliness and of their government.”

“Unconditional Love for Our Country”

According to Zoabi, apart from the incitement against Jews that she claims is promoted by the existing Arab political parties, these parties did not act to solve the problems of the Arab sector but rather prefered to “deal with other matters” while the Likud government actually invested money in the Arab sector.

“The current government invested a lot in the Arab sector, in terms of budgets and security provided to all of us by the most moral army in the world. It is true that there is no perfect world and there is much to improve, but the government does not neglect us. In any case, my love for the people of Israel and for the state is unconditional”, she explained.

Zoabi mentioned that she hoped that one day an Arab party would be established and would follow a similar line. “We live in a paradise and we need to wake up. Let them see what happens to the Arabs in the Arab countries under dictatorships – those who do not like it, can move to one of the 22 Arab countries. You have to taste bitter to appreciate sweetness.”

President Reuven Rivlin spoke at a conference of the Truman Institute in Jerusalem last Monday. He addressed the subject as well: “Recently, we have been exposed to an unacceptable discourse toward Israel’s Arab citizens”. He claimed: “Those who believe in the duty of the State of Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state, must remember that there is absolute equality of rights for all its citizens. There are no second class citizens, there are no second class voters, and in front of the ballot box we will all be equal. “

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Mida is a news and intellectual daily magazine, which aims to present the public with information and opinions not common in the Israeli media.
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