Tony Greenstein | 12 March 2015 | Post Views:

Banned, Physically Attacked – Israeli Democracy in Action

Another example of the ‘only democracy in the Middle
East’.  Haneen Zoabi, an articulate,
forthright Palestinian member of the Knesset has been villified, suspended from
the Knesset, barred from running (until the High Court overturned it) and now
physically attacked during the election campaign by a range of Zionist
parties.  The reactions of the Police and
the authorities to this concerted attack? 

Tony Greenstein

MK Haneen Zoabi attacked at political panel

Ha’aretz 3 March 2015
Far-right activists storm stage at Ramat Gan college event
in which Zoabi, several other female MKs took part.
Right-wing activists disrupted a political convention on
Tuesday and attacked several female MKs, prompting security guards to evacuate
the politicians.
Participants at the event on women’s issues at the College
for Law and Business in Ramat Gan included MKs Haneen Zoabi (Joint List), Shuli
Moalem (Habayit Hayehudi), Michal Biran (Zionist Union), Karin Elharar (Yesh
Atid), Anat Berko (Likud) and Gabi Lasky (Meretz).
Witnesses said supporters of right-wing extremist Baruch
Marzel stormed the stage and poured a drink on Zoabi. The Joint List’s
spokeswoman, Emily Moatti, was also assaulted, and was taken to Tel Aviv’s
Ichilov Hospital.
“The security guards tried to whisk us, especially
Zoabi, out of there,” said MK Biran, “and I was hit with an elbow to
the gut.” Biran added that people from both sides of the political divided
riled things up. “Lieberman’s people [from the Yisrael Beiteinu party] started
it, but Marzel’s people kept on going and Zoabi’s supporters didn’t let things
During the course of the event, activists associated with
the Habayit Hayehudi party, with Yisrael Beiteinu and Yachad, also yelled at
Zoabi, preventing the audience to hear her remarks. Several activists then
approached the stage and one poured the drink on her.
For her part, however, Habayit Hayehudi MK Shuli Mualem
denied taking part in the brawl, and denied that she had assaulted an Arab
woman at the event. “A female student or a Zoabi supporter, stood on a
table and unfurled a Palestinian flag,” she said. “I called on her to
stop and take it down, because there is no place to fly a Palestinian flag in
the State of Israel. They tried to take the flag from her. At that stage, I
left the hall.”
 Biran said that when
the first question was posed to Zoabi, Yisrael Beiteinu activists began singing
the Israeli national anthem to silence her. “In my opinion, that shows
disrespect for the anthem, singing it to silence someone else,”
she said.
“Then Anat Berko from Likud got up to calm things down, but at some point,
she said: ‘I don’t agree with Miss Marmara either, and that didn’t help calm
things too much.”
The reference was to Zoabi’s presence on the Turkish
ship, the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla that attempted to run the
Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010. Biran called the incident the
low point of the campaign in the run-up to Knesset elections of March 17.
Before the event, Marzel – who is running on Eli Yishai’s
Yachad ticket – posted a call on Facebook to “protest the disgrace.”
When I am in the Knesset,” he wrote, “I will do everything to
wipe the smile off Zoabi’s face
.” After the incident Marzel posted an
additional comment in which he said: “We promised – and kept our
” The post was later deleted. The party then issued a statement
that said in part: “The Yachad movement condemns and opposes any incident
involving the use of violence. It also directs its members and supporters
accordingly. In addition, however, it is difficult to ignore Zoabi’s
provocations and her inciting conduct.”
The statement sarcastically added:
It’s difficult to understand what she was looking for at the Ramat Gan
conference when her potential supporters are in Gaza.”
Last month, the High Court of Justice overturned the
decision to disqualify both Zoabi and Marzel from running in Israel’s election
on March 17.

Aiman Odeh, the chairman of the Joint List, which includes
Zoabi’s Balad party, condemned the attacks on the women MKs, adding: “The
wave of racism, exclusion and violence that has characterized the term of the
current government continues in the current election campaign. It’s sad to see
that even at academic institutions, there is no long the possibility of conducting
open discourse and presenting a range of views.”

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