Israeli-Arab party leader says he cannot relate to national mourning over Peres' death

MK Ayman Odeh, who was considered a moderate voice during the election period, said he did not attend Peres' funeral because he felt he wasn't a part of the national narrative.
Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel, Flash 90/Channel 2 News

Israeli-Arab MK Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint Arab List Knesset party, responded on Friday to the public criticism over his decision not to attend the funeral of Israel's former president Shimon Peres. "I understand the personal pain," he said, "but politically speaking I'm not part of it."

"Peres has a family and friends and my heart goes out to them," Odeh said in an interview to Channel 2 News. "On the political level, though, it is a national mourning that I'm not a part of, not in terms of the narrative, or the symbols which exclude me, or the stories about Peres as a security persona."

"Tomorrow, we'll be marking the events of October 2000," Odeh continued, referring to the violent clashes on Temple Mount in which 12 Israeli-Arab citizens were killed. "One of the victims was my wife's little brother. Can anybody relate to our pain, or does nobody care about that?"

Odeh then called on the Israeli public not to dehumanize the Israeli-Arab population. "It is very important for me to create bonds with moderate sections in the Israeli society," he said. "Just like I try to relate to the Jewish people's pain about the Holocaust and the pogroms, the Jews should relate to our pain."

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