Thursday 10 April 2008

French Minister Fadela Amara felt at home in Israel

From Haaretz:

"Introducing: Fadela Amara, 43, the Minister for Urban Affairs who is feminist and single, an avowed secularist but also a proud Muslim. Militant in her soul and anti-Islamist in her blood. Connected to the ideological left but serving in a right-wing government. France is her country, but the Paris suburbs, where she grew up, define her identity. ...

Amara says that when she was in Israel, she actually felt quite at home. She was invited here in June 2004 as part of a delegation of leftist women that met with Israeli and Palestinian women. ...

"I felt very comfortable [in Israel]. I wasn't the object of special stares, as often happens toward foreigners. I didn't feel any racism, though I'm certain it exists. You have all the colors there so it's become almost natural to see white, yellow, brown."

By your appearance, you could certainly pass for Israeli. Maybe that's the reason?

"Maybe, but I'm not used to that. Here in France, I get looks. To the French, I'm not very 'French.' We're living here under a dominant culture. When your name is Francois and you're white with blue eyes, it's one thing. But when your name is Fatima and you've got a little color, the look you get is different. In Israel - because of the variety of people, I didn't feel that. In fact, I met a lot of young people there and it happened more than once that I was talking with a Palestinian and thinking he was an Israeli or vice-versa. Luckily, some of them were wearing a Star of David, otherwise I would have been confused all the time."

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