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Arab Member Of Knesset On 'Israeli Apartheid,' Extremism

Aida Touma Sliman

Aida Touma-Sliman is a former journalist and a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee. She's also currently one of only 18 Arab (out of 120 total) members of the Israeli Knesset, Israel’s parliamentary body.

Touma-Sliman is a vocal opponent of a new Israeli law that officially defines the country as the Jewish nation-state. The law establishes Hebrew as Israel's official language, and also calls Jewish settlements — which have typically been into areas inhabited by Palestinians — a "national value." Touma-Sliman calls the law "Israeli apartheid."

Touma-Sliman is in Louisville to speak at an event Tuesday sponsored by the Jewish Voice for Peace Kentucky and the Louisville Committee for Peace in the Middle East. I spoke with her about extremism in Israel. You can listen to our conversation in the player above.

Touma-Sliman on the difficulty of being an Arab in the Knesset:

"I have to say that our situation as Palestinian Arab members of Knesset, especially those in the joint list like I am, we are facing double difficulties and challenges. On one hand we are part of the challenge of defeating the extreme right wing and on the other we are facing the challenge of being under attack and incitement all the time for being Palestinians and for defending the right of our constituency which is a national minority that is discriminated against."

On how the press is dealing with being under attack from political leaders:

"To tell you the truth, sometimes I don't know who is learning from whom. President Trump or Prime Minister Netanyahu. It looks like they're leading the same kind of politics when it comes to media. There was a huge discussion going on in Israel as they changed, the Knesset changed the law about the public broadcast and made it more and more under control of the government."

Touma-Sliman will speak Tuesday at 7 pm at the American Turkish Friendship Center in Louisville.

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

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