Who’s the Israeli sentenced to death in Arab country?

The family of Fida Kiwan claims the Israeli government is not doing enough to help her due to her Arab ethnicity.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Fida Kiwan, a 43-year-old graphic designer, made international headlines after she was sentenced to death on Tuesday by a UAE court for possession of half a kilogram of cocaine. The Arab-Israeli Haifa native claims she was set up by an Emirates-based Palestinian acquaintance who hid drugs in the apartment where she was staying.

Kiwan’s brother, Khaled, told Hebrew-language media that she was repeatedly beaten by Emirati police officers until she made a false confession. Waafa Biada, Kiwan’s aunt, said her niece is a victim who did not use drugs and had simply gotten mixed up with the wrong people.

Recently, the family has been vocal in charging that the Israeli government has not done enough to assist Kiwan, claiming that the alleged inaction is because of her Arab ethnicity.

But according to news blogger Abu Ali Express, Kiwan is an avowed anti-Zionist and initially refused to meet with Israeli government representatives after her arrest.

However, after comprehending the extent of her legal troubles, she relented and agreed to speak with unnamed Israeli diplomatic officials.

Local news site MyNet Krayot reported that Kiwan is a well-known figure in Haifa who was once the manager and co-owner of Cafe Azad on trendy Hillel Street.

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In 2010, Kiwan refused to serve Sergeant Major Raviv Roth because he was wearing an IDF uniform, sparking ire among the local community. The business eventually closed.

Right-wing former rapper and social media influencer Yoav Eliassi spoke out on Instagram about Kiwan’s situation, suggesting that she turn to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for help rather than the Israeli government.

“She refuses to accept the State of Israel, presents herself as a Palestinian, despises IDF soldiers, and despises the state and its symbols…there is no reason for [Israel] to intervene on behalf of an anti-Zionist drug trafficker,” he wrote.

Eliassi added that one of Kiwan’s brothers, an employee of a major television broadcaster, was reported to have angrily ripped Israeli flags off the walls in the studio, triggering complaints from his coworkers.

Kiwan’s family recently filed a complaint with the Mossawa Center, an advocacy group for Arab citizens of Israel, due to what they said was inaction on the part of the Israeli government to help her.

In a statement, the Mossawa Center claimed that because Kiwan is an Arab Israeli, the government is not leveraging all the resources at its disposal to secure her release. “If she was a suspect of Jewish origin, government ministries would work to help her and her family,” the group said.

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“We saw how Prime Minister Netanyahu brought [back] a Jewish suspect from Russia in his private plane,” the statement continued, referring to the Na’ama Issachar case. “[Kiwan] denies the allegations, and claims the drugs belonged to the owner of the apartment she lived in.”

Arab Joint List chair Ayman Odeh is reportedly lobbying President Isaac Herzog and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to intervene on Kiwan’s behalf.

Odeh’s Joint List was the only party in the Knesset to vote against the Abraham Accords normalization agreement, the very piece of legislation which makes Israeli intervention for Kiwan’s case possible.