Apparently, Menashe Regional Council head, Ilan Sadeh and the outgoing Umm al-Fahm mayor Sheikh Hashem Abd al-Rahman have had the correct response to their request to block a right wing march through the Israeli Arab town of Um al Fahm.(1) This is not the first time we have seen cooperation between Mr Sadeh and Sheikh Hashem Abd al-Rahman who is also head of a forum of Wadi Ara local councils. Indeed, in 2005 Lena Taylor, a black senator from Wisconsin and a member of a delegation from the American Jewish Committee visiting the area, said on leaving the meeting, “I got the impression that there is real chemistry and cooperation between them (Sadeh and al-Rahman) and that it’s not just an act.“(2) This cooperation would seem to be confirmed by the two leaders who, in a joint statement said, “Cooperation between the councils in the Wadi Ara region has led in recent years to a cooperative way of life based on tolerance and mutual respect, and to development in a number of areas,”(3) They then went on to list a number of those areas with Sadeh adding, “The demonstration is like gunpowder; the rightist activists are likely to drag the area and the entire country into a violent confrontation between Jews and Arabs.”(4) It is a view that is shared by Ze’ev Shor, the head of the kibbutz movement and Yoel Marshak, the head of the movement’s special assignments division, who said, “We will stand, Jews and Arabs, in a human chain, hand in hand, to prevent the settlers from staging this racist provocation in the streets of Umm al-Fahm.”(5) This solidarity is very important for if it were not to materialise, the authorities would undoubtably let the march go ahead. What would then happen in a town where, more or less, all of the 45,000 inhabitants are Arab, we can easily imagine. It would be a bit like the Orange Order marching down the Falls Road at the height of “the troubles” accompanied by the RUC and Army. However, unfortunately for the Arab residents of Umm al-Fahm, they have no IRA to protect their community.
There is, however, another, more important, reason why this solidarity is crucial. Umm al-Fahm lies in the heart of the Hafai district’s triangle region. It is this region, with its overwhelming, Arab majority that the Zionists are actively planning to “transfer”, (a euphemism for ethnic cleansing) to a future Palestinian “state” and this despite the fact that more than 80% of the region’s inhabitants are against such a “transfer”.(6) This would be a part of a more comprehensive “transfer” policy that would allow the Zionists to defuse what they see as a demographic time bomb ticking in their mists. The solidarity that the Menashe Regional Council and the kibbutz movement are displaying can be the source of some optimism and we can at least hope that Ilan Sadeh can develop the “chemistry” he has had with Mr al-Rahmen with Umm al-Fahm’s newly elected mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamadan. However, with a total of 76 percent of Israeli Jews giving some degree of support to “transferring” Israeli Arabs to a future Palestinian “state”,(7) we would do well, not to be too optimistic. Even now it is worth noting that the march has only been delayed and that in two weeks there will be a new evaluation of the situation.(8)
3 se 1 ibid
6 Jonathan Cook, ‘Blood and Religion, London 2006, pp11,118
The picture shows Umm al-Fahm