The ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ Suspends 3 Palestinian members of the Knesset and takes steps to expel them
The ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ Suspends 3 Palestinian members of the Knesset and takes steps to expel them
is, as every Zionist propagandist tells you, a democracy. Of course they define a democracy quite
narrowly. Basically the chance to vote
every few years for a new parliament (Knesset) counts as democracy.
systematic discrimination, the denial of land rights to Israeli Palestinians,
the denial of any civil or political rights to the 4.5 million Palestinians
under occupation, the demolition of ‘unrecognised’ Arab villages (Jewish villages/towns
are always recognised), the overt discrimination in terms of jobs, welfare
benefits, education etc. is of course ignored.
Uri Avneri attends a Hadash (Communist Party) demonstration
a society based on a situation where one ethnic group (Israeli Jews) dominates
another ethnic group (Arabs/Palestinians) then what exists is not so much
democracy as the dictatorship of the majority.
A similar situation could have been said to exist in Nazi Germany.
however even the right to vote is being taken away, or rather the
democratically elected representatives of Israeli Palestinians are being taken
away. The 3 members of Balad, an Arab
nationalist party, have been suspended for between 2 and 4 months. Their crime?
They visited the relatives of dead Palestinians to offer their
condolences and to give their support to their demand for the return of the
bodies of the children.
Haneen Zoabi – MK for Balad has been demonised by Israeli Right (& Israel’s left-Zionist Meretz and Israeli Labour Party/Zionist Union after going on Marvi Marmara
a State which specialises in cruelty and barbarities would even think of kidnapping
dead bodies and refusing the right of the parents to bury their children as
they see fit. Children who, out of
desperation at their plight, took a
knife or scissors and attempted to kill and Israeli soldier or settler or just
an Israeli who they hold responsible for their plight. If there was no racism and discrimination in Israel,
if there wasn’t a Prime Minister who complained about ‘hordes’ of Arabs going
to the polls, or a Deputy Defence Minister, Eli Dahan, who speaks of Palestinians
as not being humans, ‘beasts’ or a ‘Justice’ Minister Ayelet Shaked who has
called for the murder of Palestinian mothers to stop them breeding ‘little Palestinian
snakes’ then there would be no stabbings.
Zoabi is physically removed from the Knesset again
only has the Knesset voted to suspend the 3 Balad MKs, having previously tried
to ban the Balad party outright, but there is now a bill going through the Knesset
which will allow the majority of the Knesset, i.e. its Jewish members, to vote
by a 75% majority to expel the elected members of the Arab minority altogether. A situation where a majority of members of a
parliament can expel a minority is not democracy but dictatorship. It says to the Arab minority in Israel that
you can only vote for parties that we approve of. This is Israeli democracy.
article below by Uri Avnery, a veteran peacenik and someone who is on the outer
fringes of Zionism, explains the background to what is happening and in
particular the witch-hunt of Haneen Zoabi, a secular Arab woman who most Israelis
is also of note that the ‘left-wing’ Meretz party, the old Civil Rights Party
and Mapam, also voted for the suspension of Balad MKs and also supports the new
law. Once a Zionist always a Zionist. I doubt though that the late leader of
Meretz, Shulamit Aloni, who had effectively become a non-Zionist, would have
even less easy to be an Arab woman in the Knesset.
Israeli Right hate demonstration against Haneen Zoabi
Zuabi is all these together. Perhaps because of this she wears a perpetual
smile – the smile of somebody who has won, after all.
can be very annoying, this smile. Annoying and provocative.
days, Zuabi has achieved something no Arab woman in Israel ever dreamed of: the
whole country is talking about her. Not for an hour, nor for a day, but for
weeks on end.
vast majority of Jewish Israelis hate her guts. Zuabi’s smile is triumphant.
Haneen Zoabi speaking in the Knesset
BELONGS to a large Hamula (extended family) that dominates several villages
near Nazareth. Two Zuabis were members of the Knesset in its early days – one
was a vassal of the (then) ruling Zionist Labor Party, the other a member of
the left-wing Zionist Mapam party. It was he who coined the memorable phrase:
“My country is at war with my people!”
Zuabi is a member of the Balad (“homeland”) party, an Arab
nationalist party founded by Azmi Bishara, an Israeli-Palestinian intellectual.
Bishara was an admirer of Gamal Abd-al-Nasser and his pan-Arab vision. When the
Shin-Bet was about to arrest him on some pretext or other, he fled the country,
asserting that because of a severe kidney disease, prison would endanger his
left behind a three-man Knesset faction, one of three Arab factions of similar
size. All of them were a constant irritation to their Jewish colleagues, so
they invented a remedy. A new law was enacted denying Knesset membership to any
party that did not gain enough votes for a four-member faction. (A larger
minimum could have endangered the Orthodox Jewish party.)
Haneen Zoabi after having been attacked at election debate
logic was simple: the three small Arab factions hated each other’s guts. One
was Communist (with one Jewish member), one Islamist and one nationalist
lo and behold, under threat of annihilation even Arabs can unite. They formed a
“Joint List” (“Joint”, not “United”) and together
gained 13 seats – three more than before. They are now the third largest
faction in the Knesset, right after Likud and Labor, an eyesore to many of
IS the background of the latest outrage.
months now, Israel has been in the throes of a mini-intifada. In the two
former intifadas, “terrorists” acted in groups under the orders of
organizations, which were easily infiltrated. This time, individuals act alone,
or together with cousins who could be trusted, without any prior signs. The
Israeli forces (army, police, Shin Bet) have no information whatsoever and are
therefore unable to prevent these acts.
many of today’s “terrorists” are children – boys and girls who just
pick up a knife in their mother’s kitchen and, on the spur of the moment, run
out and attack the nearest Israeli. Some of them are 13, 14 years old. Some of
the girls wield scissors. All of them know that in all probability they will be
shot dead on the spot by soldiers or passing armed civilians.
preferred victims are soldiers or settlers. Lacking these, they attack any
Israeli, man or woman, in sight.
mighty Israeli security forces are admittedly helpless against this kind of
“infantifada” (as my friend Reuven Wimmer calls it). In their
distress, the security forces do what they always do in such situations: use
methods that have already failed many times.
from summary executions on the spot (justified or unjustified, these methods
include the demolition of the family’s home, to deter others, as well as the
arrest of parents and other family members.
I detest these measures. They remind me of a Nazi term I remember from my
youth: “Sippenhaft” (“kin liability”. It is barbaric. It is also
highly ineffective. A boy who has decided to sacrifice his life for his people
is not deterred by such things. Not a single piece of contrary evidence has
ever been produced. On the contrary, it stands to reason that such
barbaric acts increase hatred and provide motivation for more attacks.
THE most atrocious and stupid measure is the withholding of dead bodies. I am
almost too ashamed to bring this up.
almost any “terrorist” act, the body of the perpetrator – adult or
child – is picked up by the security forces. Under Muslim law and usage, dead
bodies must be buried the same day or the next one. Withholding them is a
supreme act of cruelty. Our security services believe that this contributes to
prevention. For Muslims, this is a supreme act of sacrilege.
is the background of the latest scandal. The three Balad members of the Arab
faction visited the families of the perpetrators of a “terrorist
outrage”, whose bodies had been withheld. Their version is that they came
to discuss how to retrieve the bodies. The security forces insist that they
also expressed their condolences and even stood in silence for a minute.
Knesset, “from wall to wall”, was outraged. How dare they? Extolling
murderers? Showing sympathy for their families?
Balad members of the Joint Faction are, apart from Zuabi and her smile, Bassal
Gatas, and Jamal Zahalka. I have never met Gatas personally. He is 60 years
old, a Christian Arab, a doctor of engineering and a businessman. He was for a
long time a member of the Communist Party but was thrown out when he insisted
on his right to criticize the Soviet Union. Azmi Bishara is his cousin. On TV,
he makes a very sensible impression.
consider Gamal Zahalka a personal friend. Once we both attended a conference in
Italy and undertook some hikes together with our wives. I like him very
three Balad members were banned from the Knesset for several months, except for
the right to participate in Knesset votes (a right that cannot be denied). Now
a new bill proposes that the Knesset can, by a majority of three fourths, expel
members from the Knesset altogether.
means that – unless the Supreme Court declares this bill unconstitutional – the
Knesset will soon be Araber-rein, free from Arabs. A purely Jewish Knesset for
a purely Jewish state.
WOULD be a disaster for Israel.
fifth Israeli is an Arab. The Arab minority in Israel is one of the largest
national minorities, per capita, in the world. Pushing such a minority out of
the political process will weaken the very structure of the state.
the state came into being, we believed that after a generation or two the gulf
between the two communities would close, or nearly so. The opposite has
the early years, political cooperation between Jews and Arabs in a joint
peace-camp was strong and getting stronger. These days are long past. The gulf
was – and is – an opposite trend, too. Many Arabs are integrated in important
professions, such as medicine. The last time I was hospitalized, I could not
guess if the chief doctor of my department was Jewish or Arab. I had to ask my
(Arab) male nurse, who confirmed that the very gentle doctor was Arab. I have
found that Arab medical personnel are generally gentler than Jewish ones.
several professions, Arabs are more or less integrated. But the general trend
is the opposite. Where once there were cordial relations between neighborhoods,
or between political organizations, contacts have loosened or disappeared
were times when my friends and I visited Arab towns and villages almost every
week. Not anymore.
is not altogether an one-sided process. Insulted and rejected for so long, Arab
citizens have lost the appetite for cooperation. Some of them have become more
Islamist. The happenings in the Occupied Territories affect them deeply. A
third and fourth generation of Israeli Arab citizens is becoming more
proud and self-reliant. They are very disappointed by the failures of the
Jewish peace movements.
throw the Arab members out of the Knesset is, as a French politician once
famously said, “This is worse than a crime – it is a mistake!”
would cut the ties between the Israeli state and more than 20% of its citizens.
Some Israelis may dream of evicting the Arabs altogether from the historical
country – all six million of them in Israel proper, the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip – but that is a pipedream. The world in which this was once
possible does not exist any more.
is possible, and indeed already exists, is a creeping apartheid. It is already
the reality in the West bank and East Jerusalem, and – as this episode shows –
it is becoming the reality in Israel proper, too.
hysteria that has engulfed the country after the “visit to the
‘terrorists’ families” has touched the Labor party, and even Meretz, too.
am putting “terrorists” in quotation marks because they are
terrorists only to the Jews. For Arabs they are heroes, shaheeds, Muslims who
sacrifice their lives to “testify” to the greatness of Allah.
question is, of course, what is the job of an Arab MK? To upset the Jews? Or to
narrow the gap and convince Israelis that Israeli-Palestinian peace is both
possible and worthwhile.
am afraid that Zuabi’s smile does not help with the second aim.
ANYTHING, this affair has reinforced the arguments for the Two State. Let
each of the two states have a parliament of its own, where they can commit all
the stupidities they want, and a serious joint Coordination Council, where
serious decisions can be taken.