JERUSALEM (Sep. 14)
Ali Heider, a 47-year-old Arab educator and civil servant will be the first Arab to serve as a full member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations when the General Assembly opens its annual session Sept. 21. Helder, who holds a degree in Arab literature and language from the Hebrew University, lives in Kafar Karra, an Arab village near Afula. He is deputy head of the Arab Education Department of the Ministry of Education.
He told newsmen today that he was “leaving for New York pleased with the condition of Israel’s Arabs and although there are difficulties, these can be overcome by legal means.” He said he would fulfill the duties of a member of the UN delegation “and answer questions regarding Israel’s Arabs according to reality.” He expressed hope that other government offices would follow the example of the Foreign Ministry and integrate educated Arabs into the civil service.
Foreign Minister Yigal Allon denied yesterday that Heider’s appointment had anything to do with the controversial report by Yisrael Koenig, a ranking official of the Interior Ministry, who advocated a tough policy toward Israel’s Arab population. Koenig’s secret recommendations aroused a storm when they were published last week in Al Hamishmar, the organ of Mapam Allon said he had his eye on Heider long before he heard of the Koenig document and hoped Heider would not be the last Israeli Arab assigned an important mission.
Heider attracted attention as an outstanding administrator when he headed a government-appointed committee that governed the Arab town of Nazareth for a brief period after the local council was disbanded because of administrative disorders. He has been involved with Arab education since the early years of Israel’s independence. He founded the Arab Boy Scout movement in Israel.