The Case of Fidaa Kiwan And What It Tells Us About The Haters and Mainstream Media

An Israeli woman has been sentenced to death in the UAE for drug smuggling, and the mainstream media is is all over it. For instance:

UAE sentences Israeli woman to death, testing new ties (AP)

UAE sentences Israeli woman to death for drug possession (AFP)

UAE sentences Israeli woman to death for cocaine possession (CNN)

What is really interesting is how almost all of the media is clearly identifying her as an Israeli woman – given she is an Israeli-Arab and not an Israeli-Jew.

The United Arab Emirates has sentenced an Israeli woman to death for drug possession, her lawyer said on Tuesday, adding that she would appeal the decision. Fidaa Kiwan, a 43-year-old Arab Israeli photographer from the northern port city of Haifa, was arrested after half a kilogramme of cocaine was found in her Dubai home last year.

This is not always the case with the mainstream media. For instance, when Israeli-Arab Aiia Maasarwe was murdered in Australia a few years ago, the Guardian and Daily Mail both referred to as a “Palestinian Arab of Israeli citizenship,” ABC Australia referred to her as a “Palestinian citizen of Israel,” and 7 News Australia referred to her as a “Palestinian-Israeli.” You may also recall, then-journalist Jennine Khalik made a big deal about stressing she was actually a “Palestinian.”

In this case of Fidaa Kiwan, almost none of the mainstream media is giving her this designation.

I should note as of the time of this post, a site called The New Arab does refer to her as a “Palestinian woman with Israeli citizenship”, but strangely (or perhaps not strangely) their headline is UAE sentences Israeli citizen to death for drug possession.

Naturally, none of the Israel-haters like Khalik are getting their panties in a knot over her designation as an Israeli. And I think it is quite obvious why the double standard. Here, we are speaking about a convicted felon, whereas when the subject of the news report was a murder victim deserving of sympathy, her Israeliness was practically wiped away, while her supposed “palestinian-ness” was emphasized.

A few other points that deserve mention; firstly, there may have actually been a palestinian Arab involved:

Kiwan, who owns a photography studio, is said to have travelled to the UAE for work after being invited by a Palestinian acquaintance. Upon arriving in Dubai, she settled in an apartment arranged for her in advance.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Israeli government is trying to help her:

Lior Haiat, the spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, told The Media Line: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the situation, and we are dealing with it through the consular division and our embassy in the Emirates.”

Kiwan’s family members have also reportedly reached out to Amnesty International for help, but I have yet to see even a peep out of them about this. Which is kind of ironic, given they authored a report accusing Israel of an “apartheid” state – yet here we have yet another example as to how Israel is not treating this Israeli-Arab any differently from an Israeli-Jew.

Update: Kiwan may not have been a huge fan of her country:

Journalist Tali Libman reported in Yedioth Haifa that Kiwan is remembered by Haifa residents from the Azad Cafe on Hillel Street, which she ran and was one of its owners. Sergeant Major Raviv Roth arrived at the Azad restaurant on Hillel Street in Haifa during February 2010, but the hostess did not allow him to enter the place because he was wearing an IDF uniform. The incident, which was exposed on mynet, caused a public outcry, and shortly afterwards it became clear that the restaurant did not have a business license – and it closed.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media