When one reads of the lynch-mob atmosphere in the Israeli Knesset directed at its 10 Arab Members, and in particular Haneen Zoabi MK for Balad, one can but recall the anti-Jewish pogromists in Eastern Europe.
Haneen Zoabi MK committed the 'crime' of having been an activist on the Mavi Marmara, the ship that Israel attacked and 9 of whose activists it murdered, which was attempting to deliver aid to Gaza. On a personal level one's heart can but go out to Haneen, But what we are seeing is not merely a personal vendetta but a deliberate and concerted attempt to humiliate, intimidate and persecute political representatives of Israel's Arab citizens, who comprise 20% of the population.
First the Internal Security Service, Shin Bet, conducted a vendetta against Arab MK Asmi Bishara, forcing him to flee Israel. Now the same is happening to another Arab MK Haneen Zoabi. Internationally Israel is still portrayed as a democracy by a diminishing number of the more gullible of fools.
And Israeli propaganda milks the fact that Arabs in Israel can vote and elect fellow Arabs to the Knesset. The reality is somewhat different though. The fact that Arabs have the vote in Israel and even elect Arabs as members of the Knesset is irrelevant. Pre-war Poland also had permanent Jewish minority representatives in the Sejm (Parliament). But does anyone seriously suggest that Poland was a democracy or not anti-Semitic?
But in an example of their complete hypocrisy, despite the continued attacks upon and discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens, the very fact that they are able to vote and elect MKs is held up as an example of why Israel is 'the Middle East's only democracy'.
What they don’t say how there are repeated attempts to bar Arab parties from even participating in the elections and how, when they do participate, their representatives are subject to a frenzy of vitriol, hatred and physical abuse. And this by fellow MKs.
Things have got to such a state that the Knesset has been forced to hire private security to protect Haneen Zoabi from fellow MKs.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beteinu Party has called for the execution of Israeli Arabs who have the temerity to keep in contact with Arabs outside Israel.
At a time when this far-right settler government, which includes the Labour Party of course, has murdered at least 9 human rights activists on an aid ship.
Only last week an American student Emily Henochowicz and peace activist lost an eye when a tear gas grenade was fired straight at her. The Israeli Government is currently targeting NGOs and seeking to cut off their funding and prevent them operating. The attack on Zoabi is an attack on Israeli Palestinians and is part of the process of transfer which itself now forms part of the national concensus. It is incumbent upon us to raise the attack on Haneen Zoabi and see it for what it is.
Below is also an article from Ha'aretz on the overt racism within Israel today, with 56% of Israeli high-school children wanting to prevent Arabs standing for the Knesset, a figure that rises to 82% among the naturally more backward Orthodox Jewish youth.
On Monday, 7 June 2010, the Knesset House Committee voted by a seven-to-one majority to revoke the parliamentary rights of (MK) Haneen Zoabi.. The vote came in the wake of her participation in the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” which aimed to break the siege on the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel since 2007. The Committee decision still needs to be approved by the Knesset plenum. Arab parties collectively decided to boycott the Committee session in protest of the attack and the escalating levels of incitement that MK Zoabi and Arab MKs in general have faced.
In addition to demands for her to be brought to account as a “terrorist” and for her party, the National Democratic Assembly (Balad), to be outlawed, the incitement against MK Zoabi sank even lower than the depths it reached in the Knesset session held last Wednesday. During today’s session a female MK resorted to abusive language so obscene that the chair of session Yaron Levin demanded that it be deleted from the official record. The incitement also descended into personal attacks against Zoabi and targeted her as a woman.
The committee recommended that Zoabi should be stripped of three rights usually enjoyed by members of the Israeli Knesset. First, she should be prevented from travelling in case she is on her way “to commit an offence”. Second, her diplomatic passport should be revoked, and, third, she should no longer be entitled to legal expenses from the Knesset in case she is put on trial.
The session was held in the Knesset and headed by Yariv Levin (Likud). He quoted statements made by MK Zoabi about the Freedom Flotilla and what she described as the “oppressive siege on the Gaza Strip”. He also raised remarks she had made about Israel’s nuclear capabilities, referring to her statement that Israel must not be allowed to remain the sole nuclear power in the Middle East. Levin also described political positions adopted by Zoabi that he claimed posed a threat to the State of Israel: he showed clips from her interviews with journalists and with Arab satellite channels in which she rejected the Jewish nature of the state, called for a state of all its citizens, demanded an end to the occupation, and called for Israeli war crimes to be exposed and for those responsible to be held to account. These political positions, granted by freedom of speech in a normal democractic environment, let alone to an MK, were viewed by head of the committee and the majority of its members as crimes that justifiy stripping Zoabi of her rights as an MK.
Yoel Hasson of Kadima said that “Haneen Zoabi has crossed the line. The goal of Haneen Zoabi was to tarnish Israel’s image in the international community.” Nissim Cohen railed against Zoabi, stating that in a war there are those who support it and that “there were terrorists aboard the ship and Zoabi must be held accountable as a terrorist.”
Following the session, MK Haneen Zoabi stated that “Israel still denies its responsibility towards the killing of civilians on the Mavi Marmara, its responsibility for the starvation of the people of Gaza, and the international outrage caused by its actions. Unable to deal with this, it chose to regard me as a scape goat”. She added that “the session occurred within an atmosphere of violent incitement in which the MKs have incited the Israeli public to use violence” against her.
MK Zoabi stated that
“Israel, following the international reaction to its bloody attack on humanitarian flotilla, is embarrassed and confused. Unable to deal with the shock and anger of the international community, I have become their punching bag.”Zoabi added that “there is no democracy in Israel, we are operating within the margins of democracy, and even this narrow margin Israel is trying to eliminate. Israel is trying to portray this as ‘Arabs versus Jews’; however I don’t represent only Arabs, I also represent Jewish groups, however marginal, who are against blockade on Gaza; and in particular I represent international consensus on this issue.” She added that “Israel’s true image has been revealed -- they are confused and embarrassed and want to retaliate. I have become their easy prey.”
She stated that the Knesset committee has taken decisions in retaliation against her, and virtually every Knesset Member is calling for more extreme measures, including calls for her dismissal from the Knesset, to revoke her citizenship, to expel her from the country, and imprisonment. Thus, these MKs consider the committee’s decisions to be just a first step of more punitive measures to come. “Our response will be to defy them. We will continue on our path of upholding human values and human rights, calling for equality, justice and the end of occupation and racism despite all their incitement and threats.”
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The National Democratic Assembly
MK Haneen Zoabi – Parliamentary Office
The government's 'incitement index' is a dishonest tool to whitewash Israel as a pure, peace-loving nation.By Zvi Bar'el, 14.03.2010.
The Strategic Affairs Ministry never ceases to bring us peace of mind. How nice to know that someone in Israel is monitoring Palestinian incitement, ensuring they "create an environment of peace" and striving "to push them toward a culture of peace". After all, what do we care about construction in Jerusalem, Efrat or Ramat Shlomo, or about checkpoints, arrests, home demolitions, the army's "neighbor policy," bone breaking, land appropriation or the blockade of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza?
All of these are minor issues compared with naming a square near Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian woman who took part in a bloody terror attack three decades ago, calling for confronting the occupation or referring to suicide bombers as martyrs. These are the real threats to peace. After all, according to the road map, the Palestinians are responsible for ending incitement. After we have meticulously fulfilled everything the road map required of us and completely frozen settlement construction, it's now their turn.
Yossi Kuperwasser, the deputy director of the Strategic Affairs Ministry and a generally bright man who once headed the Military Intelligence research department, explains that there are several categories of incitement. These include encouraging others to commit terrorist acts, demonizing Israel and creating an atmosphere of hostility toward it. The fact that the occupation persists in the Palestinian territories, and that any nation under occupation will do virtually anything to rid itself of this arrangement, is apparently missing from his consciousness.
In his view, when Palestinians get up in the morning they begin cursing Israel and plotting its erasure from the map and school textbooks through the noble acts of their martyrs. The members of the team tasked with monitoring incitement disingenuously assert that there is no difference between scrutinizing this kind of incitement and monitoring anti-Israel rhetoric emanating from Europe or the United States. The difference, however, is profound: Israel hasn't occupied France or Cleveland, or destroyed a single home there.
Incitement is an elusive affair. How, for example, would the monitoring team classify the following remarks: "The political statement made by [Scandar] Copti turned 'Ajami' from a movie into another link in the fight waged by the Palestinians in Israel against the state of which they are citizens. That makes it just like disrespecting the memory of the Olei Hagardom [pre-state Zionist militants executed by British authorities in the Mandate period] or accusing Israel of being an apartheid state even though the Israeli Palestinians' rights as citizens here exceed those of any Arab country (and include supernumerary rights, such as exemption from mandatory military service) .... Among those contributing to hatred of Israel are, in addition to filmmakers, Israeli intellectuals and artists from other disciplines - and for exactly the same reasons that the filmmakers are so eager to make their self-flagellating films."
Did the writer of these words in these pages (Israel Harel, March 11) intend to incite against Arab citizens of Israel or against Israeli intellectuals? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to examine instances of incitement in Israel before sticking our nose into the affairs of an occupied nation?
Here is a good place for the monitoring team to start: a poll conducted by the Maagar Mochot research institution and presented recently at a Tel Aviv University conference shows that 56 percent of Israeli high school students believe that the country's Arab citizens should be prohibited from being elected to the Knesset. That figure rises to 82 percent among religious youths. Around half the respondents say Israeli Arabs should not receive the same rights as Israeli Jews. In the words of Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal of the Tel Aviv University School of Education: "The worldview of religious youth melds fundamentalism, nationalism and racism."
If using the criteria of the monitoring team, Bar-Tal's remarks could be considered incitement against religious youth, or even Israeli youth in general. Before we file an indictment against Bar-Tal, however, we should return to Kuperwasser's comment that the purpose of the incitement index is to convince the Palestinians to create a "culture of peace." With whom exactly are they expected to build such a culture? With Israel's young generation, which sees Israeli Arabs as a dangerous foe from whom democratic rights should be withheld? With inciters who see an Arab film director, or the Jewish intellectuals who support him, as enemies of the state?
The incitement index is not intended to actually gauge the measure of hatred Palestinians feel toward Israel, or to create the vaunted culture of peace. It is simply another dishonest tool being used to present Israel as a pure, righteous and peace-loving nation, all of whose citizens love Arabs. This is a veil intended to conceal the fact that, while a culture of peace is being demanded of the Palestinians, the Israeli side is witnessing an unimpeded spread of a culture of racism