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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hanin Zoubi. The Rights of Democracy


64 years on from Israel’s war of Independence the only place in the Middle East where Christians have prospered and continue to grow as a percentage of the local population is in Israel. The Jewish State has its despicable racists like all countries, like all nations and like all ethnicities. It would be racist to assume that Israelis are somehow possessed of greater nobility than other people and therefore not psychically damaged by continuous conflict with their neighbours.  64 years on from 1948 the Arab nation believes itself to be pure and the rules for a just society to exclude them.  64 years on from Israel’s release from religious oppression Islamic forces still contend that Jews have no rights other than those magnanimously bestowed on them by means of benevolent Muslim domination.  64 years on, in a December 2012 broadcast on Egyptian TV - Muslim leader Ahmad Al Baghdadi Al Hassani referred to Christians as polytheists, stressing that they must choose "Islam or death," while their women and daughters could legitimately be regarded as wives of Muslims (and therefore the property of Islamic men).

Hanin Zoabi is a controversialist and member of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset).  She is a member of the Balad list in the Knesset which received 3 mandates in the 2009 elections. Balad describes itself as a democratic progressive national party for the Palestinian citizens of Israel.  It declares its support for Two States but also backs the full return of all Arab refugees (and their descendants) to Israel as well as promoting a policy of Arab Apartheid. Hanin Zoabi sailed with Islamic activists on the Mavi Marmara.  It was one of a flotilla of ships organised by the terrorist group, the IHH, which has active connections to the ruling government party in Turkey (it is banned in Germany) and which lost nine activists when they attacked Israeli soldiers in 2010. The launching of the flotilla from a sovereign Turkish port and subsequent deaths led to an almost complete rupture in relations between Israel and Turkey, one that may not be repaired for many years.

On the 19th December 2012 the Central Election Committee declared Zoabi ineligible to stand for election for the 19th Knesset in January 2013. That decision was automatically referred to the Supreme Court.

I support the view that she should be banned from the Knesset.  In a war that will define the identity of the nation, Arab MKs observed a moment of silence for Gaza 'martyrs' but labelled those Israeli’s that defended the State as ‘war criminals’. We are losing the propaganda war because the State appeases those that willingly collaborate with our enemies (such as MK Zoabi).

An Israeli may be of any faith or ethnicity; in precisely the same way, a Britain or an American or an African may hold their faith or ethnic identity dear to them while being part of one nation.  Palestine is an Arab nation and excludes ‘the Jews’ as they always have, from this identity. To deny the identity of the nation in which they live and from which they receive protection and succour is to reject the State.  By rejecting Israeli national identity Israel’s Arab rejectionist MK’s are not necessarily representative of all their constituents, but they could be, if their narrative is accepted.

They are therefore a divisive and seditious element within the State.

Modern Israel is 64 years old, no more than an infant nurturing a nascent national identity.  The purpose of Balad and other political parties is to undermine the raison d'ĂȘtre of the State.  By their narrative, their demand for separate development (apartheid) and their steadfast rejection of any national accommodation they are slowly but inexorably tearing the nation asunder.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said there was not sufficient proof to merit a ban on Balad. Specifically he asserted that there was insufficient evidence against MK Hanin Zoabi to warrant her disqualification from the upcoming national elections (according to Ynet news of 18th December 2012).

 "While the significant evidence that has been amassed in her case approaches the limit of what is acceptable, there isn't enough proof to disqualify her," Weinstein wrote.

In an Op-ed in Ma’ariv on the 13th of December 2012 Ben-Dror Yemini referred to the external assault against Israeli legitimacy being based on “incitement, an industry of lies and hypocrisy”. What is unwarranted is the extent to which the same egregious misbehaviour is promoted by both foreign agencies and local bigots, in Israel.  We do not condemn Muslims for the genocidal actions of their co-religionists around the globe so it is outrageous that uniquely, Jews are threatened by Israel’s actions.  Israel’s activities directly impact every supporter’s safety and security.  It is not right nor is it fair but it does demand of Israel a special responsibility to frame the debate in a way that assists her friends. And that can only happen if Israel can fight its own corner at home. If it cannot then there is no hope for fighting the delegitimization campaign abroad.

Balad and another Arab political party, Ta’al, reject the idea of Israel as they reject the idea of a Jewish State.  They explicitly define loyalty to a Jewish state as unacceptable.

In the UK there are Americans who refuse to speak out loud in public in case they are physically attacked.  Being the world’s lone superpower does not guarantee popularity.  But with Exceptionalism is implied a unique responsibility.   Israel’s failure is that while it celebrates its Exceptional status, it is unwilling to accept this mantle of responsibility towards the Diaspora. Israel’s ambassador in Copenhagen, Arthur Avnon, has recommended to Israelis traveling in Denmark to maintain a low profile for fear of anti-Semitism. Yediot Achranot reported:

   “We advise Israelis who go to synagogue to hide their kippot until entering the building, and not to walk around with open Jewish signs in the street, no matter where they are,” …. he went on to say, “the synagogue looks like a fortress, the Jewish school is surrounded by a barbed wire fence and it is guarded like a military camp, and at anti-Israel demonstration people call out, ‘itbah il-yahud’ (slaughter the Jews) …”

I do not seek to disqualify the minority for expressing its opinions. But what is an acceptable level of intellectual violence?  A line must be drawn between legitimate political criticism and incitement.  Freedom of expression is no more than artifice if its purpose is to deny that freedom to another.

Delegitimization is an invalid and racist construct that finds it unnecessary to differentiate between opposition to Jewish self-determination and ‘The Jews’ wherever they / we may live.

Israel has a right to guide the nation towards a vision for the state and its people.  That vision is based on Jewish and Israeli ideals of tolerance and respect.  Many within the Arab community do not and cannot, nor will they ever accept this vision.  This is not a debate about punishing citizens who do not share our views. In a democracy, respect for human rights has to be total or it is no more than a well fitted mask for fascism. A destructive dynamic is being established where our enemies decry our limitation on their civil rights while they are telling everyone we have no right to exist, except as a minority within the society that they will define and that rejects and has always rejected our civil rights.

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