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MK Frej hopes to build bridges through Arabic prose

Arab-Israeli Knesset member Issawi Frej aspires to make Arabic literature accessible to the Israeli public and promotes an initiative for an annual public prize, to be given to Israeli authors writing in Arabic.
Israeli Meretz party members Nitzan Horowitz (2nd from R), Zehava Galon (C) and Issawi Frej (c-L) take part in a visit of the "Al-Shuhada" street in the West Bank city of Hebron on February 25, 2014 in support of Palestinians who were forced out of the old quarter at the outset of the second Palestinian intifada by the Israeli army to allow for Jewish settlers to move securely in the area. Today also marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers by Jewish extremist Baruch Go
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Israeli-Arab Knesset member Issawi Frej organized on June 10 a gathering in the Knesset in honor of the Arabic Book Festival, an initiative to create public events related to Israeli-Arab-written prose and literature. But even though the Likud Party's newly appointed minister of culture, Miri Regev, declared that she will be “the minister of culture for everyone," she didn’t come. In fact, only nine members of Knesset participated in the event, just one of them from the coalition. “There’s a deafening silence from the minister of culture,” Frej told Al-Monitor. “But we will bring the issue to her agenda. I expect that the people of the book [in reference to the Jewish people] will also be a light to the gentiles.” Regev has yet to respond.

Under these circumstances precisely, when the issue of Arab culture has become such a sensitive one, and in view of the prevailing tensions between Israeli Jews and Arabs, Frej wants to advance the status of Arabic literature in Israel. “I called the process 'Books Build Bridges,'" he said. “In the difficult reality of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel today, a reality of separation, tension, nationalist discourse and discourse of hatred, we have to find something that connects the different groups that compose Israeli society. Culture, language and literature are just the ticket.”

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