An Interview with Anett Haskia: Proud Israeli, Arab, Muslim
I met Anett Haskia, a woman I hadn’t previously heard of, on a pro-Israel Facebook page run by Cliff Pinto, a guy I’ve come to respect for his deep understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict and love for the Jewish people.
Anett and I became instant friends. Since the day Cliff introduced us, we’ve been talking on the phone almost on a daily basis. Last week, I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Anett at Tel-Aviv University where she made a short presentation on her life story and struggle on behalf of Israeli Arabs. Out of all the political groups on campus, Im Tirtzu was the only one that was interested in hearing Anett’s story.
Anett told us of her early years, of growing up in Akko, of how family had disowned her when she began supporting Israel, and much more.
Anett’s goal is to replace the current Arab MKs in the Knesset. Her platform includes measures such as a law that would make it compulsory for Israeli Arabs to either serve in the IDF or do national service in return for equal rights. She doesn't believe in the creation of a “Palestinian” state or in giving up Israeli territory in return for empty promises. Anett is trying to find a fund or individual who’d be willing to sponsor her campaign.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Anett:
Me: Please tell me about yourself: Where did you grow up? Where do you live today? How many children do you have?
Anett: I was born in the Old City of Akko. I’m 44 years old. I’ve been divorced for more than 20 years now, and have three wonderful kids. I work as a hair stylist.
I’m a social activist in the Arab sector. I’m fighting for equal rights for Arabs but together with that, I insist that Israeli Arabs do their part for our country by volunteering for either the army or national service and giving back to the State in other ways. I’m a proud Israeli Arab who has nothing to do with the “Palestinian people.”
Me: Why do you support Israel? What are you doing to show your support?
The fact that I support Israel goes without saying. I was born here and will always be at the side of my one and only homeland. I’ve helped—and continue helping many young Arab guys and girls volunteer for national service.
I do everything to explain to them that Jews aren’t our enemies and that the Arab MKs have created a good life for themselves with our money and support. As a result of this, we’re the ones paying the price which comes in the form of the Jewish community distancing itself from our affairs. A lot of us, however, would like to be able to pursue a better life right here, in Israel as respected partners with the Jewish people.
Me: How does your family feel about your political activity? Has anyone tried to hurt you or your children?
Anett: I’d say that my family doesn't support me at all, but we try not to discuss this because it leads to only more trouble between us. They’re also afraid that someone might kill me. I've been targeted a lot of times. They have made a lot of attempts to show me they’re following me.
Me: I realize that all your kids have served—or are serving in the IDF. How do you feel about this? Was it difficult for them to get accepted to the army? What was the reaction at the recruitment office?
Anett: I’m proud of my kids for serving the State and paying their dues like everyone else. At the recruitment office, no one believed them that they were Muslim Arabs and not Bedouins.
Me: What do you think about “Palestinian” “peace activists?” Jewish “peace activists?” The far right who’d be willing to kick even someone like you out of Israel?
Anett: Unfortunately, I don’t really have an opinion on Palestinian “peace activists.” I don’t think such a thing exists. I hope I’m wrong.
Jewish “peace activists” are causing a lot of damage to Israeli Arabs. I blame them along with the Arab MK’s for the hatred between the citizens of this country. They think they’re doing me a favor by supporting my right to be here. I don’t accept their “kindness” because I don’t consider myself a third-class citizen to begin with. As far as the far right, I consider them a terrorist organization.
Me: What’s your message to the Palestinian people? To the Israeli government? To the international community?
I’d tell the Palestinians to try to remember the good lives they had here before Arafat and Hamas took over. I doubt they can have an effect on the government because they’re all afraid for their lives—and rightly so. Even Abu Mazen, whom the world calls a “peace partner” is afraid and won’t do anything without the support of Hamas.
I’d be happy if the Israeli government continued punishing those who hurt innocent Palestinians and soldiers who abuse random people. Theoretically, I’d like for the government to allow them to work in pre-’67 Israel and to ease the security restrictions, but unfortunately, there have been cases where these workers have murdered Jews, so I’m not asking for this. I don’t want to pay the price for their hatred and insanity and for my children to feel horrible every time they show anti-Arab protests and signs saying “Death to the Arabs!” and “Transfer!”
I find it ridiculous that the left-wingers don’t go out to defend us with signs of “These aren’t Israeli Arabs—these are West Bank Arabs!” They’ve never done this. I hope Palestinian Arabs (the ones living in the West Bank) end up leaving Israel and go work in Jordan or other Arab countries.