Arab Israeli Leader Ayman Odeh Makes It Into Time's List of '100 Rising Stars'

Magazine suggests politician's rise all the more extraordinary in light of greater obstacles faced by non-Jewish politicians in Israel

Joint List Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi during a consulting meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem on September 22, 2019.
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Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Arab parties’ Joint List, was among Time magazine’s picks for its “100 Next” listing of “rising stars who are shaping the future” in various fields.

The magazine described him as “a stirring new voice for equality and inclusion.”

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“Ordinarily, it’s difficult for a non-Jewish politician to break through in Israeli politics,” Time wrote. “Arab Israelis may account for every fifth resident of the country, but in its parliament, the Knesset, they are routinely relegated to a corner. All of which makes Ayman Odeh, the head of Israel’s Arab parliamentarians, all the more extraordinary. As the contest for leadership of the self-declared Jewish state teetered between right-wing and centrist factions, Odeh emerged not only as a possible kingmaker but also as a stirring new voice for equality and inclusion.”

It also quoted Odeh as saying: “We have proven that cooperation between people, Arab and Jewish, is the only principled political strategy that will lead to a better future for all."

Responding to the announcement on Thursday, Odeh said: “I’m very proud on behalf of Hadash, the Joint List and especially the Arab community and its Jewish partners. This constitutes international recognition of our status and political influence, for all of us.”

Other people on Time’s list include Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay mayor who is one of the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination; Hong Kong activist Edward Leung, who was jailed last year for his involvement in protests against China; and environmental activist Varshini Prakash, who heads a movement advocating for a Green New Deal in the United States.

In its introduction to the list, Time wrote that in recent years, most of the people chosen for its more famous list - the year’s 100 most influential people - haven’t come from traditional power structures. Rather than originating from institutionalized politics or the business world, they came from the margins. That prompted it to launch its 100 Next list, which debuted this year, the magazine said.  

It also said that although most of the people on this list are young, there was no age cap. Odeh, age 44, is the oldest person on it.