|Basel Ghattas is the latest Arab member of the Knesset to come under attack from the Jewish majority|
Of course the idea that a democracy is defined by the ability to put one’s cross on a ballot box once every 3-4 years is a pretty weak argument. By this logic Hitler's government was democratic. A state that tortures its citizens, especially if they are part of the minority population, that has a pervasive censorship, which consistently discriminates against one section of its citizens, that embeds racism within the very definition of the state as a State of the Jews, that doesn't even 'recognise' the right of non-Jews to live on their land is only democratic in the most formal of senses.
|Aryhe Deri - leader of Shas, jailed for corruption is now Interior Minister|
However even the ability to choose their representatives is becoming irksome to the Zionists. Balad, a radical nationalist party that wants to see Israel as a state of all its citizens rather than a State of the Jewish People has been under severe attack recently with its premises raided, its activists arrested on bogus charges of money laundering and its representatives under continuing harassment. [Balad condemns unprecedented Israeli arrests of senior officials]
Israel is a state where corruption is epidemic amongst the Zionist political class. Prime Minister Netanyahu has received hundreds of thousands of shekels of cigars and champagne from business associates and has been recorded offering favours for favourable coverage from the Yediot Aharanot newspaper. The Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri of the Shas Party served nearly three years in prison for corruption when last in office. Netanyahu's predecessor Ehud Olmert is still in prison for corruption yet there has never been a time when the Likud party offices have been raided by the Police. Likewise, when Labour was in power, corruption was rife. Ehud Barak managed to become wealthy overnight when Prime Minister.
Balad MKs have been under consistent attack. Haneen Zoabi, a secular Arab woman who has been on a speaking tour of Britain, has been the subject of unheard of villification by Zionist MKs including physical attacks inside the Knesset building. She was herself suspended for 6 months for making the unremarkable observation that 3 settler teenagers killed in the West Bank weren't the victims of terrorism.
|Racism against the Palestinians is no offence - Bezalel Smotrich MK|
On no occasion has any Jewish MK, e.g. its most notorious racist Bezalel Smotrich been expelled or suspended from the Knesset despite for example arguing that Jewish women should be able to give birth in hospital in segregated wards (in fact such wards exist in practice anyway!). Racism against Palestinians is not a crime. After all this is a state where it is legitimate to steal and confiscate the land of the indigenous population without any penalty.
In July 2016, Israel passed a bill allowing 90 members of the Knesset to expel another member. We were told that this Bill would rarely if ever be used. It was attacked as a naked attempt to expel Palestinian Israeli members of the Knesset who wouldn’t accept working within the Zionist consensus. Like all racist legislation it doesn't explicitly mention that only Arab MKs will be subject to its provisions. In theory Smotrich or Uri Ariel or even Netanyahu could be a victim of the Expulsion Bill, but as with so many things in the 'Jewish' state, in practice only Arabs are the victim.
|Thousands of Palestinians gathered after the Friday noon prayer in Um al-Hiran to bury Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan, but the police refused to hand over his body to his family [Jonathan Cook/Al Jazeera]|
Sure enough Basel Ghattas, a member of Balad, has been stripped of his immunity and now there are proposals to expel him from the Knesset. The allegations against him, which he denies and of which he hasn’t even been convicted, was passing mobile phones to Palestinian prisoners locked up for up to 37 years for killing an Israeli soldier. Even were he 'guilty' so what? He however denies he passed anything more than printed materials.
One should note that Zionist killer Elor Azaria, who deliberately shot and murdered an Arab lying severely on the ground, although he has been convicted of manslaughter is unlikely to serve any time in gaol. Instead he has become an Israeli national hero, with the Prime Minister ringing up his parents to reassure them and members of the Israeli cabinet, such as Miri Regev and Naftali Bennett calling for him to be pardoned.
The killing of Palestinians in Israel by the Police or Army is only a crime in theory. Last week Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan was murdered in Umm al-Hiran, a village demolished in the Negev in order to make way for a Jewish town, by the Police who opened fire on his car. There was justice of sorts as he then lost control of the car, which went out of control and killed one of his killers. For this he was branded, without any evidence whatsoever, by the racist public order Minister, Gilad Erdan, a member of ISIS and until a court order, the Police refused even to hand over the body.
We shouldn’t be surprised at the hypocrisy of Israel which fetes its killers but damns Palestinian killers of Israeli soldiers. The Israeli Labour Party (Zionist Union plus a few independents) which opposed the original Expulsion Bill is now giving its MKs a green light to support Netanyahu’s attempt to expel Basel Ghattas.
See the article in Ha’aretz below.
By allowing its lawmakers to raise their hands in favor of the law and bring about Basel Ghattas’ ouster, the faction has brought upon itself a shame that will never be forgotten.
Haaretz Editorial Jan 18, 2017
|Zionist Union leaders Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog at the Knesset, January 16, 2017. Olivier Fitoussi|
One of the most shameful laws the Knesset has ever enacted is now about to be implemented: For the first time in Israel’s history, there’s a real possibility that a sitting Knesset member will be ousted by a vote of his fellow legislators.
Seventy MKs have already signed on in support of expelling their colleague Basel Ghattas (Joint List) after he was charged with smuggling cell phones to imprisoned terrorists. If Ghattas is ousted, the decision will have been made possible by the votes of members of the Zionist Union faction, which decided on Monday to allow its MKs to vote in favor of his expulsion if they so choose.
The ouster law, which was enacted last summer, states that the Knesset can expel an MK for incitement to racism or support for armed struggle against Israel. Thus, based on the wording of the law itself, it shouldn’t apply to Ghattas: He hasn’t yet been convicted, and it’s doubtful that the charges against him meet the criteria set in the law.
It’s no surprise that the right-wing parties support Ghattas’ expulsion. They enacted the law precisely for this purpose: to eject Arab legislators from the Knesset. Nor should the Yesh Atid party’s support for his ouster surprise anyone: Party chairman Yair Lapid has been paving his political ascent with base incitement against Arabs for a long time now, since this is well known as the most effective weapon for gathering votes in Israel.
When it comes to incitement, Lapid doesn’t fall one whit short of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the greatest of anti-Arab inciters. And Lapid’s party colleagues have long since lost both their shame and their independence; they blindly, automatically obey their leader’s cynical decisions. Some of them know quite well how dangerous the ouster law is, and how contemptible it is to expel a Knesset member who hasn’t yet been convicted in court, but they have fallen silent out of fear of their leader.
Now, Zionist Union is following in Yesh Atid’s footsteps. And even from Zionist Union, such wretched behavior was hard to foresee. Not even chairman Isaac Herzog’s denunciation of the law after it passed as “an ugly stain on the face of this government of hate” deterred him from announcing Monday that he approves of the stain, in the form of Ghattas’ ouster. And a few other MKs from his faction hastened to announce that they, too, would vote for the expulsion.
This ugly stain is now defacing Zionist Union in its entirety. By allowing its MKs to raise their hands in favor of the law and bring about Ghattas’ ouster – which requires the support of 90 of the Knesset’s 120 MKs – the faction has brought upon itself a shame that will never be forgotten. This isn’t the first time the faction has been dragged after the radical right and the populist center; it isn’t the first time it has betrayed its trust as the largest opposition party; and it isn’t the first time we’ve been given proof that Zionist Union under Herzog’s leadership has completely lost its way.