Supreme Court: Arab Labor candidate can run, despite anti-Israel comments

Mara’ana told a Jewish interviewer, “You are naturally frightened. You are a frightened people. Fear [is] in your genetics.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the Central Elections Committee’s ban on the candidacy of Ibitisam Mara’ana on Sunday, ruling that the Arab-Israeli filmmaker is free to run in the upcoming March 2021 elections.

The decision to overturn the ban was made 8 – 1, with Judge David Mintz the sole dissenter.

Mara’ana, who is number 7 on Labor’s list of candidates for the Knesset, was disqualified by the CEC in February over comments she had made on social media and during interviews, some stretching back to 2008.

According to the Knesset’s basic law, a party or candidate can be disqualified for denying Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, promoting the armed struggle of foreign states or terrorist groups, or inciting racism.

Not long after Mara’ana’s candidacy was announced, Itamar Ben Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit party and a number of veteran Labor party members filed petitions to bar her from running.

The petitions cited her remarks during a 2008 interview, when she spoke of an “apocalyptic scenario” destroying the town of Zichron Yaakov, with “all residents going back to the U.S. or Poland.”

Mara’ana grew up in the Arab municipality of Fureidis, near Zichron Yaakov. She and her mother cleaned houses in Zichron Yaakov.

During the same interview, Mara’ana told the Jewish man interviewing her, “You are naturally frightened. You are a frightened people. Fear [is] in your genetics…

“It did not start in the Holocaust and has nothing to do with the Arabs. You are a terribly possessive and domineering people.”

In recent Facebook posts from 2020, she called the IDF “the occupation army,” alleging that soldiers murdered a Palestinian child. In other posts, she referred to Gaza as “a ghetto under cruel occupation” and called Israel “ugly.”

In 2012, Mara’ana bragged on Facebook about ignoring the memorial day siren honoring fallen IDF soldiers, during which most Israelis get out of their cars and stand in respectful silence.

At the Supreme Court hearing, Mara’ana said she regretted her statements.

“I apologize for my remarks,” she said. “I have never incited against anyone. I am married to a Jew, I have a daughter – Sofia – one hundred percent Jewish and one hundred percent Arab…things have been taken out of context.

“I was born to connect and be a bridge between the two peoples. I want to be a Knesset member so that it will be good for all of us, Jews and Arabs together.”

The court ruled that “although Mara’ana’s comments…were outrageous, no sufficient evidentiary basis was presented — quantitatively or qualitatively — that justifies the disqualification of Mara’ana for any of the reasons on which the Central Elections Committee [decision] was based.”

“Very happy about the Supreme Court decision! Let’s get to work for democracy, women, Jewish-Arab cooperation, human rights, without distinction between gender, nationality or sexual orientation,” she wrote on Facebook, celebrating the decision.