‘Look beyond the veil’, says Israel’s first hijab-wearing lawmaker


Iman Yassin Khatib, poised to become the first lawmaker in Israel’s history to wear a hijab or head scarf, which she does as a Muslim, following results of her Arab Joint List party in Israel’s election, holds a traditional Palestinian scarf in Nazareth, Israel March 5, 2020. Picture taken on February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Source: Swiss Info

By Mustafa Abu Ganeyeh

NAZARETH, Israel (Reuters) – A female Muslim lawmaker from Israel’s Arab minority is set to become the first in parliament to wear a hijab, or head scarf, after Arab parties won their largest ever showing in this week’s election.

Iman Yassin Khatib, 55, won a place on the Joint List coalition’s slate of 15 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

The party draws most of its votes from Israel’s 21% Arab minority – who are Palestinian by heritage but Israeli by citizenship.

The mother of four served as the manager of a community centre in the Galilee village of Yafat an-Nasreh on the outskirts of Nazareth, the city where Jesus grew up, before entering national politics.

“There is no way (the hijab) won’t capture people’s attention. But what’s more important is what is inside: the ability and potential to advance our community,” said Khatib as she accepted congratulations and posed for selfies on a street in Nazareth.

Khatib said she felt her hijab had sometimes stirred anti-Islam sentiment in Israel, whose nine million population is mostly Jewish.

“Every challenge I faced in my life was made harder because I wear a hijab,” she said. But she urged people to “look beyond the veil”.

Israel’s Arab minority is mostly descended from the Palestinians who lived under Ottoman and then British colonial rule before staying in Israel after the country’s 1948 creation.
It is predominantly Muslim, but also includes members of the Christian and Druze faiths.

Many Arabs complain of discrimination in areas such as health, education and housing, and their leaders accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of incitement against them during recent elections.

Netanyahu’s Likud party counters that its 15 billion shekel ($4.34 billion) investment plan for the Arab sector is the largest ever by an Israeli government.

Arab voter turnout surged to 64.7% in Monday’s election, its highest in 20 years. That gave the Joint List coalition two more seats in parliament than in last September’s ballot.

It is the third-largest party in the Knesset after Netanyahu’s Likud and the centrist Blue and White Party. But its influence will likely be limited since no Arab party has ever joined an Israeli government.

Analysts cited anger toward Netanyahu and his U.S. ally President Donald Trump as one reason for the surge in Arab voters in this election, the third in a year.

Khatib is one of four women lawmakers among the Joint List’s Knesset members. She belongs to its Islamist faction, Ra’am, which campaigns for more services and rights for Arabs in Israel, and supports the creation of a Palestinian state.

“There is a growing awareness amongst Arab women that we can be active participants in our future,” said Khatib.

“My message to young women: there is a possibility. There is a way. Don’t limit your hopes and dreams.”

(Writing by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Maayan Lubell and Mike Collett-White)


Iman Khatib-Yasin (Arabicايمان خطيب-ياسين‎, Hebrewאימאן חטיב-יאסין; born 1965) is an Israeli Arab social worker and politician. A member of the United Arab List party, she was elected to the Knesset in 2020 as a member of the Joint List, becoming the first woman from the United Arab List and the first hijab-wearing woman elected to the Knesset.[1]


Originally from Arraba, Khatib-Yasin studied for a bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Haifa and a master’s degree in women’s affairs at Tel Aviv University.[1] She also graduated from the Mandel College for Leadership.[2] She was employed as a social worker, and ran a community centre in Yafa an-Naseriyye.[2]

A member of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement and its political wing, the United Arab List, Khatib-Yasin was placed ninth on the United Arab List–Balad list for the April 2019 elections,[3] but the alliance won only four seats. Prior to the September 2019 elections, the United Arab List joined the Joint List alliance, with Khatib-Yasin given the fifteenth slot on the list.[4] However, the Joint List won 13 seats. She was given fifteenth place again for the March 2020 elections and was elected to the Knesset as the alliance won 15 seats.

Khatib-Yasin lives in Yafa an-Naseriyye and has four children.[2]


Categories: Arab World, Asia, Islam, Israel

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21 replies

  1. This is a new proof that Israel treat good Muslim fairly—and equal —RAFIQ cannot deny that Israel is much much better than KSA and Gulf States which treat women differently—

    • If you read my comments carefully you will note that my “complaints” of Israel is mainly of its treatment of the Palestinians / Arabs in the occupied territories. I acknowledge that Israel treats its Arab minorities somewhat better, although not quite equal either. Let them try to treat their ‘occupied persons’ the same as their Israeli Arabs and everything would improve.

  2. I have been a teacher for decades. I give up . No matter what Israel does it does not meet your standard.
    Others can kill murder terrorize kill stab etc Jews and they receive at best a small rebuke or a rationalization that it is because of the occupation, discrimination etc but when Jews measure up and beyond Koranic principles of fair play and justice it is- as I said -very weakly recognized.

    Mr Somi Tempo and I agree!

    • I in no way agree to any killers, murderers and terrorists whether they target Jews or any one else. I said that so many times that, yes, I get tired of it. As all that terror has nothing to do with me I do not need to condemn it non-stop. Just like any white man does not need to apologize for all the mass-shootings, as it has mostly nothing to do with him (or her). Jews excel in science and art and business, why should we not expect of them to excel in justice and human rights as well?

    • Anyway, hope you will be able to visit the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Vancouver. I assure you, you will not find any Jew-haters there. In fact they will be very happy to welcome you, for tea and cake and may be dinner too.

      • The mosque is not in Vancouver but in Delta, British Columbia. Not too far away!
        Jews excel in business because in many locations outside of China and India they were not permitted to do anything else.
        Studies have generally found Ashkenazi Jews to have an average intelligence quotient in the range of 107 to 115, and Ashkenazi Jews as a group have had successes in intellectual fields far out of proportion to their numbers. A 2005 scientific paper, “Natural History of Ashkenazi Intelligence”, proposed that Jews as a group inherit significantly higher verbal and mathematical intelligence and somewhat lower spatial intelligence than other ethnic groups, on the basis of inherited diseases and the peculiar economic situation of Ashkenazi Jews in the Middle Ages. Opposing this hypothesis are explanations for the congenital illnesses in terms of the founder effect and explanations of intellectual successes by reference to Jewish culture’s promotion of scholarship and learning.
        Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 900 individuals, of whom at least 20% were Jews although the Jewish population comprises less than 0.2% of the world’s population.

        The excellence which Jews have displayed has been a source of murderous rage in Christian and to a much lesser extent in Muslim cultures.
        Never underestimate the spirit double known as a qarin which tempts the believer to sin to hate the accomplished Jews. Christians have been murdering Jews since Jesus’ time.

      • acknowledged. Just wondering why Jews seem to have no DNA left for compassion and peace making …

  3. When you say –
    jews have no DNA left for compassion and peace- you join the ranks of antisemites by including all Jews.
    You are an antisemite period!
    Jews have to be aware of people like you.
    You owe an apology as a Muslim who follows Mohammed pbuh

    • I do appreciate that you add the pbuh after the name of our beloved Prophet. Thanks a lot for your compassion. You do seem to have a little bit left anyway.

  4. Thank you Somi!

    I never expected the response I received from Mr Rafiq A. Tschannen.
    It was so anti semitic to say that there are deficits in the DNA of Jews regarding compassion etc.
    So vile and if I really think about it so really unIslamic in this day and age. I expected an apology but got nothing.
    The other chief editor came up with Jews and Muslims must fight white supremacists.
    Far from an apology. He as well should be ashamed of what his colleague Rafiq A. Tschannen said in print.
    It is so vile I have run out of words.

    Really just a camouflage of words to say Jews and Muslims must unite against hatred. First clean your own house! 🙂

    What Mr Rafiq A. Tschannen said about the DNA of Jews is really hate speech and I don’t intend to read the publication any more. I really enjoyed the articles and the discussion. But to say the DNA of Jews is tainted and amiss is akin to Hitler speech. I even gave him an opportunity to apologize.
    If I were a Jew and said that about a whole group of people I would fast and ask for forgiveness.:):):)
    It is not there.
    My best to you
    Sam Sussman

    • ok, I apologize. It is wrong to generalize. After all there are the Jews for Peace too, very nice people. But still, can I say that I am wondering why Jews excel in science but not in peace making?

  5. Jews are not a warlike people. They have been killed more often than most people. Jews have been as successful as they are because Allah has made them peace loving and that is why they thrive wherever they are.
    Jews excel in both. End of story! Israel is a nation state. It defines noone! 🙂

    • AMAZING how you can ignore for instance the story of the sniper who happily shoots at 50 knees per day. Published in an Israeli newspaper. And all the human rights violations … ok, end of story. let’s stop this discussion. For you your news and for me mine.

      • You are not listening. In the name of Allah the all merciful and in the spirit of Mohamed pbuh and Moses p also be upon him and in the name of Gabriel pbuh open your mind. My last statement was that Israel as a nation does not define Jews period.
        In the same way that Muslims in Kazakhstan Do not define all Muslims. Get that Jew thing out of your head.
        The kneecaps atrocity is done by ISRAELI JEWS maybe even DRUZIM. I didn’t even know if true!
        Jews should never be defined by where they live. It may not be true. The Israeli Press are notorious liars.and Jewish liars. Look what they did to Ganz! Much infighting. Is this self defense.??? If Israelis brought them Muslims diamonds and pearls would THOSE Jew be killed?YES Both Muslims and Jews don’t believe in Murder. We believe in self defence. Are the Arabs crossing borders to kill?
        Please let us be friends. Visit me and bring Mr Shia Shah I will come with my adopted Muslim son Dr Zafar Iqbal the nephrologist near where I life. I am 80. He is in his early fifties, and if healthy enough I will visit you.
        This is one world -one God. Shema Isrealm Adonai Elhunu Ahed., There is one God but ALLAH. Allah is my god as well. Mohammed is probably glowing in my statements. BE A GOOD MUSLIM. I will express my Jewish expression and love and compassion. Let us be bloody friends as the pure British the enslavers say ! L:):):)
        MaKe us friends, Please watch what we both say and we can maybe I hope change the world. Rafiq and Drs Sussman and Dr Shia and Dr Zafar Iqbal. We can do it. Where there is a will they is a way!

        uP FOR A MEETING?

      • Well, I also always tried to make this difference of Israeli atrocities which are not Jewish atrocities. The Israeli Government may be behind it but not as Jews.

        Right. Well, I am a bit far away. Come to Lombok, nice beaches, no virus.

        In the meantime please go and have that cup of tea in our Mosque in British Columbia near Vancouver.

      • Of course I like to meet up with you. At the moment however we are sort of at the opposite ends of the world. Will you reach to me or me to you? Who knows ? I would like to visit BC actually. Got a sister-in-law and niece in Anchorage too … (my brother having died there)…

  6. well we will see about meeting. when you say ” But still, can I say that I am wondering why Jews excel in science but not in peace making?” You paint them all the same.
    Anyways enough.
    Your country hates Jews. Are you sending me there to be hated. When the Army of Mohammed pbuh or his substitute provides me with safe passage then I will thinK!
    This is what I read-
    “Home to only a tiny number of Jews, Indonesia is a hotbed of anti-Semitism. The disturbing popularity of Nazi imagery in the country came to international attention with stories of a Third Reich-themed restaurant and a museum where visitors could take selfies with Hitler. In 2016, an Indonesian artist for Marvel Comics was fired amid global outcry after his illustrations were revealed to contain hidden anti-Semitic references. But while these bizarre and ghastly expressions of anti-Semitism have shocked international opinion, they are only the most recent phase of a long history of prejudice and violence in Southeast Asia, one that links Jews and local Chinese communities, both of which are seen as dangerous minorities. This tragic common fate is a heritage of colonial rule, when anti-Semitic officials compared the Chinese of Southeast Asia to the Jews of Europe.
    For Indonesia’s small Jewish population, life is precarious. Until 2013 there were two synagogues in the country, one in a relatively remote part of the island of Sulawesi, the other in Surabaya, a city on the island of Java, the heart of Indonesia’ economic and political life. Radical Islamist protestors targeted the latter with protests, threats and attacks, forcing it to shut down. As is often the case throughout the world, local Jewish communities are regularly identified as agents of, or stand-ins for, the state of Israel, which is deeply unpopular in Indonesia. Despite repeated diplomatic overtures on Israel’s part, the two countries have no official diplomatic relations.
    Anti-Semitism has become part of everyday politics and culture throughout Islamic Southeast Asia, including both the majority-Muslim nations of Indonesia and Malaysia. The Malaysian government banned Schindler’s List in 1994, with one member of parliament arguing that it was Hitler, not Oskar Schindler, who was the film’s true hero. Historians like Anthony Reid find a growing number of references to “Zionist conspiracies,” backed by translations of the notorious century-old forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, circulating in both Malaysian and Indonesian political circles. Textbooks used in religion classes in Indonesian schools offer hostile and reductive images of Judaism, according to the scholar of Indonesian Islam Muhamad Ali.
    Yet physical intimidation of Indonesia’s Jewish communities and violent rhetoric against Jews and against Israel can only be partially explained in terms of the growth of radical Islamic movements inside the country. Indonesia’s rampant anti-Semitism is also entangled with hatred of the country’s Chinese minority, who are often compared to Jews. Journalists and scholars have made the comparison, most notably in a 1997 volume that explored the parallels between antisemitism in Europe with anti-Chinese prejudice in Southeast Asia. Such analyses reveal that, like Jews in twentieth-century Europe, Chinese communities in the region have been scapegoated as everything from communists to capitalists, and have been the victims of repeated episodes of mass violence.
    Making up about one percent of the archipelago’s 260 million people, the Chinese community has been formed through centuries of immigration to the region and assimilation with local cultures. Many of their ancestors became merchants or shop-keepers in their new homes, with some families of Chinese origin becoming wealthy and powerful. Their success has fueled resentment, and governments across Southeast Asia have promoted ant-Chinese policies, such as banning the use of Chinese names and public displays of Chinese cultural events. In a paradox familiar from the history of anti-Semitism, however, such policies of forced assimilation only foster accusations that people of Chinese origin are secretly still attached to their ethnic roots and are not ‘real’ members of the national community.
    Indonesian leaders themselves invoke comparisons between Chinese and Jews, although they do so in order to vilify them, attacking both groups as greedy, selfish minorities bent on controlling the world. Towards the end of his tenure, President Suharto, who ruled Indonesia from 1967 to 1998, began to spin conspiracy theories in which Indonesia’s Chinese minority and “international Zionism” were plotting together. These speculations contributed to violence against the Chinese. In the anarchic conditions after Suharto’s fall from power in 1998, nationalist groups blamed the Chinese for Indonesia’s political and economic problems. Chinese-owned business and homes were destroyed, over a thousand people murdered, and many victims brutalized in mass rapes.
    Yet the horrific pogrom of 1998 was not unique in Indonesian history. Just as his reign ended in mass violence, so too had Suharto’s presidency begun with a campaign of collective murders of Indonesian communists and their suspected sympathizers, particularly among the Chinese minority.
    In fact, the lineage of organized anti-Chinese violence in Indonesia reaches still further back to the eighteenth century, when Indonesia was part of the Dutch empire. The first pogrom of Indonesia’s Chinese community was organized by the Dutch in 1740, after economic tensions between Chinese workers and colonial soldiers spilled over into violence. The Dutch colonial government responded with the systematic killing of the Chinese population of Batavia (now Jakarta), their headquarters on the island of Java. Some 10,000 people died.
    The violence of the Dutch colonial state was rooted in a widespread belief that Chinese communities of Indonesia were “like the Jews.” Applying anti-Semitic stereotypes forged in early modern Europe to the Chinese of Southeast Asia, European travelers and colonial officials of the period often remarked that the Chinese “like Jews” were “tricksters” bent on robbing both the Dutch and native people. This strategic conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Chinese prejudice was politically useful as the Dutch consolidated control of the archipelago. Crushing local powers and traditional elites that had long ruled the area, they insisted that it was not they but the Chinese who were the real foreign oppressors. The colonists, then, could pose as protectors of “true Indonesians.”
    One of the most bitter critics of the Chinese, the Dutch colonial official Dirk van Hogendorp, proposed in the early 19th century that these “bloodsuckers” and “parasites,” whom he compared to “the Jews here in Europe,” should be subject to onerous taxes in order to encourage their emigration. Many echoed his sentiments. Historian Nicolaas Godfried van Kampen wrote in 1833, for example, that the Chinese were “Jews of the East,” who “thwarted and obstructed” Indonesian progress. Later in the 19th century, an association of colonial plantation owners used anti-Semitic clichés against their Chinese competitors, saying that the local Chinese were “as bad” as German Jews who exploited peasants and workers. Such views were shared by British and French officials in their own nearby colonies.
    By the beginning of the 20th century, the conflation of Chinese and Jews had spread widely throughout Southeast Asia and its leaders. King Wachirawut of Siam wrote a notorious 1914 pamphlet The Jews of the Orient, in which he systematically applied anti-Semitic stereotypes to local Chinese populations. During the 1930s, as anti-colonial movements were emerging in Southeast Asia and violent anti-Semitism erupting in Europe, Indonesian nationalists condemned Chinese merchants as Jews and began to speak of violent, eliminationist solutions to the country’s “Chinese problem.” Such thinking opened the path to legislation discriminating against the Chinese minority, and to the massacres of 1965-8 and 1998.
    After a two-decade lull since the 1998 riots, anti-Chinese sentiment is returning to Indonesia along with a revival of its old companion, anti-Semitism, and prejudice and discrimination are reasserting themselves. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a politician of Chinese origin, became governor of Jakarta in 2014 when the previous governor stepped down. In 2017, as a new election loomed, many nationalists voiced opposition to Purnama’s decision to seek another term. Military officials warned that the Chinese minority was becoming “arrogant,” and Islamic clerics insisted that non-Muslims should not have such powerful offices (nearly all of Indonesia’s Chinese minority are non-Muslim). Following these signals from the state and civil society, Purnama was arrested on charges of blasphemy and sentenced to two years in prison.
    With many fearing that history may soon repeat itself, the intimate entanglement of anti-Jewish and anti-Chinese hatred in Indonesia’s history offers a warning about the long reach of colonial legacies and the disturbing power of anti-Semitism to shadow and sustain other hatreds.”

    • You are a good student of history. My wife has good Chinese friends here in Lombok. On the surface there are no problems, but history is history, yea …

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