'Israeli Arab leaders won't condemn terror attack - so I will'

Arab Israeli from Umm el-Fahm calls out Arab MKs for not condemning shooting attack near Temple Mount, calls for end to terrorism.

David Rosenberg,

Scene of Old City shooting attack
Scene of Old City shooting attack
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90

The three Israeli Arab terrorists who murdered Israel Border Police Command Sergeant Major Hayil Satawi and Command Sergeant Major Kamil Shanaan last Friday all hailed from the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.

Home to close to 55,000 Israeli Arabs – virtually all of them Muslims, Umm al-Fahm is the largest community in the Wadi Ara-triangle area – a predominantly Arab bloc of towns and villages on the northeastern edge of Israel’s densely-populated coastal plain, bordering northwestern Samaria, but within the 1949 Armistice Lines..

The three terrorists killed during Friday’s murderous attack were not the first terrorists from Umm el-Fahm; three years ago, Ahmad Shurbaji, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, became the first Israeli citizen convicted of joining the ISIS terror group.

Even some local leaders have maintained ties to terror. Raed Salah, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel was mayor of Umm al-Fahm from 1989 to 2001, before being convicted of aiding the Hamas terror group.

But one local self-declared “Zionist Muslim Arab” is hoping to change Umm al-Fahm’s image – and combat the Islamic Movement’s influence over residents.

Yahya Mahamid is not your typical Umm al-Fahm resident.

Sporting an Israeli flag on his Facebook page, Mahamid is a pro-Israel activist, working with StandWithUs, a non-profit pro-Israel education and advocacy organization, to debunk myths about the Jewish state around the worlds – and helping to combat Islamic radicalism back home.

When the entire 13-MK delegation from the Arab Joint List party – including Yousef Jabareen, a resident of Umm el-Fahm - failed to condemn the attack, Mahamid took aim at the so-called “leaders” of the Israeli-Arab community and the three terrorists from his home town with a Facebook video that soon went viral.

"Thus far, not a single member of the Arab Joint List, our Israeli Arab 'representatives' in the Knesset - none of them expressed their condemnation,” said Mahamid. “And now I say, I condemn what happened today. As a resident of Umm al-Fahm, I condemn all acts of violence like this one.”

The condemnation of the attack, which was made in Arabic with English subtitles, included a challenge to fellow Umm el-Fahm residents and other Israeli Arabs who disagree with him, calling on them to reassess what they’ve been taught to think about Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In an April interview with the Jerusalem Post, Mahamid described the difficulty in getting a fair and balanced view of Israel in his hometown.

“I grew up in Umm el-Fahm, the third-largest Arab city in Israel. It’s a very problematic place. The Islamic Movement runs the municipality. This means they have power over everything: schools, services, who gets hired... and they are very anti-Israel. ISIS logos and swastikas are common,” said Mahamid.

“When they came in 30 years ago, they took over the city. They outlawed alcohol and made it a policy to prevent people from prospering. They don’t take care of the city; they don’t pave the streets, fix the playgrounds or build youth centers. We went without a public library for six years.”

“We were given no Jewish history. I wasn’t given an education, I was given propaganda. I was taught in school that Hitler did a good thing and left a small group of Jews alive so that the world would know why he killed the rest.

“The problem in Umm el-Fahm is that there is no one to give an alternative viewpoint. For the past 30 years, this narrative has reigned. And it is sacred. Until 2011, I was very anti-Israel.”