Dima Tayeh made waves a year ago when she participated in an Israeli delegation to tell American audiences that Israel is not an apartheid state and that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement was harmful to both Jews and Arabs.
Tayeh is an Arab Muslim from the Galilee region. She was branded by many as a traitor over her pro-Israel activism.
But she was adamant.
"I wish that all the Arab countries would adopt a democratic system like Israel's," she said in an Arabic-language television interview at the time, noting that Arabs living in Israel have all the same rights and opportunities as Jews.
This week, Tayeh further disrupted the anti-Israel narrative by announcing that she was joining the Likud party and running in its upcoming primaries. Should she win a high enough spot on the list, Tayeh could soon become Likud's first Arab Muslim member of Knesset.
In the Hadashot TV news interview in which she announced her candidacy, Tayeh also defended Israel's contentious "Nation-State Law" that codifies the Jewish character of the state. "I don’t see that it harms minorities or any citizen," said Tayeh, noting that she'd read every line of the law. "Israel is a Jewish state and democratic and there is no other country in the Middle East that respects its citizens and gives them as much equality as possible and democracy for all."
She echoed these sentiments in an English-language interview with i24News on Tuesday:
These interviews resulted in Tayeh being shunned by her family, which released a statement reading:
"Due to her statements, we will not make contact with her or give her any assistance until she retracts her words and declares loyalty to her people and her faith."
The reaction by Tayeh's family and other Arabs of similar opinion calls into question who in the Holy Land is truly behaving in an apartheid manner. As Tayeh herself explained, Jewish society is open to the Arab community, but Arab society will shun any who seek normalization with the Jews and their state.