Aida Touma-Suleiman

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Aida Touma-Suleiman
Aida Touma-Suleiman 2021.png
Faction represented in the Knesset
2015–2019Joint List
2019HadashTa'al
2019–Joint List
Personal details
Born (1964-07-16) 16 July 1964 (age 56)
Nazareth, Israel

Aida Touma-Suleiman (Arabic: عايدة توما سليمان‎, Hebrew: עאידה תומא סלימאן‎; born 16 July 1964) is an Israeli Arab journalist and politician.

Biography[edit]

Aida Touma-Suleiman was born in Nazareth, Israel, into a Christian Arab family,[1] and gained a B.A. in psychology and Arabic literature from the University of Haifa. Touma-Suleiman lives in Acre with her two daughters. Her husband Jiris Suleiman died from cancer in 2011.[2]

Political career[edit]

Political causes[edit]

Touma-Suleiman founded the Arab feminist group Women Against Violence in 1992, and has been its CEO since its foundation. She joined the Hadash party, later becoming editor in chief of Al-Ittihad, an Arabic language newspaper owned by the Israeli Communist Party, a faction in Hadash. She also became the first female member of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel. She also co-found the International Women's Commission for a Just Palestinian-Israeli Peace.[3]

Unsuccessful runs for Knesset seat[edit]

Aida Touma-Suleiman repeatedly campaigned on the Hadash list for a seat in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset: in 1992 (placed 47th; Hadash won three seats), 1996 (36th on Hadash-Balad list; the alliance won five seats), 1999 (28th on Hadash list, again not sufficient),[4] 2009 (fifth on Hadash list, the party won four seats). After contesting the second place on the party's list for the 2013 elections against the incumbent Hana Sweid, a victory for Sweid meant that she was placed 98th on the party's list.[5]

Knesset member (2015-)[edit]

Election[edit]

Prior to the 2015 elections, Hadash joined the Joint List, an alliance with Balad, the United Arab List, and Ta'al. Touma-Suleiman was placed fifth on the candidates list of the Joint List,[6] and was elected to the Knesset as the alliance won 13 seats.[7] She is only the fourth Arab Israeli woman to become a member of the Knesset, following Hussniya Jabara (Meretz), Hanin Zoabi (Joint List), and Nadia Hilou (Labor).[1]

On Palestinian state[edit]

Speaking in the Knesset, she has shared her views on the path to peace: "The Palestinian people will continue to struggle as long as there's an occupation. The only way for true humane security for the two peoples consists of an end to the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem[dubious ]."[8]

Head of Women's Status Committee[edit]

In June 2015, she was elected to head the Knesset's Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality. Suleiman was appointed to this position through a unanimous vote. She has attended hearings of the committee since 1992. Suleiman noted that she is planning for cooperative efforts with the Ministry for Social Equality head, Gila Gamliel (Likud), who is also responsible for gender equality.[3]

On Arab world and Israel[edit]

In an interview with an American Jewish student newspaper in 2016, Suleiman explained that she condemned Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations that support such terrorist organizations as ISIS. She also spoke of Hezbollah, Israel, and the current situation: "As a woman living in a place that suffered Hezbollah's bombardment, when there was a need to condemn the bombing of a civilian population, we were the first to do so. And when it was necessary to condemn the Israeli government - we did that too. I believe that this gives us the right to make complex observations, since the situation is complex."[9] In 2019, she was critical of Arab countries normalizing diplomatic ties with Netanyahu and said it was important for Palestinians to preserve their Arab identity.[10]

COVID-19[edit]

In 2020, after being reelected to the Knesset during the COVID-19 pandemic, Touma-Suleiman tweeted a video of a disinfection of a West Bank checkpoint with the commentary, "Another atrocity by the occupation under the cover of the coronavirus — the IDF is spraying Palestinians at the Qalqilya checkpoint with an unknown substance. Everyone agrees the spraying method is not effective in the fight against the virus. The horrors being committed under the cover of the crisis can't be ignored." The video actually showed Palestinian Authority employees disinfecting the Palestinian side of the checkpoint to combat coronavirus. Yamina MK Naftali Bennett responded to the tweet with his own tweet calling Touma-Suleiman "a liar, anti-Semitic and contemptible." Touma-Suleiman deleted the tweet and claimed she had been "misled." She added, "At least I have the courage and the integrity to admit mistakes. You continue to callously lie even when the truth is clear."[11]

On Arabic-speaking LGBTQ Israelis[edit]

In July 2020, Touma-Suleiman expressed support for the LGBT community in response to a boycott of Al-Arz, an Arab Israeli company very popular for the tahini it produces, by social conservatives after Al-Arz's CEO, Julia Zaher donated to The Aguda – Israel's LGBT Task Force to establish a crisis hotline for Arabic-speaking LGBTQ Israelis.[12][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Knesset votes in first-ever Arab committee chair Times of Israel, 3 June 2015
  2. ^ עאידה תומא סלימאן מחויבת לנשים החלשות. ושדיילות אל-על יחכו Haaretz, 11 July 2015 (in Hebrew)
  3. ^ a b First female Arab Israeli lawmaker to head Knesset committee Al Arabiya News, 5 June 2015
  4. ^ Hadash Israel Democracy Institute
  5. ^ Hadash Israel Democracy Institute (in Hebrew)
  6. ^ Joint List list Central Elections Committee
  7. ^ Final Unofficial* results of the Elections for the Twentieth Knesset Central Elections Committee
  8. ^ 'We're Just Waiting for the Next Round with Gaza Arutz Sheva, 7 July 2015
  9. ^ When MKs attempt to speak English Ynetnews, 27 March 2016
  10. ^ 'Arab MK: Netanyahu prevents Palestinian state Arutz Sheva, 23 September 2019
  11. ^ Arab MK accuses IDF of ‘atrocity’ for spraying Palestinians, then backtracks Times of Israel, 13 March 2020
  12. ^ Sajrawi, Vera (2020-07-10). "Tahini boycott row over Arab Israeli LGBTQ rights". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  13. ^ Rasgon, Adam (2020-07-15). "The Tahini War: The Food at the Center of an Arab Gay Rights Battle". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-27.

External links[edit]