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Monday, January 7, 2013

Supreme Court Decision - MK Hanin Zuabi.

On the 30th December 2012 Israel’s Supreme Court unanimously rejected the disqualification of MK Hanin Zuabi. A panel of nine judges ruled that she could run in the elections to be held on the 22nd January 2013 for the 19th Knesset.

The Supreme Court represents judicial review while the Central Election Committee is separately, legally mandated to review the behaviour of those who want to stand for election.  But it is essentially political in nature.  What is not unsurprising is that the will does not exist to ensure that one is structurally consonant with the other.

The judges, in announcing their decision, wrote that MK Zuabi's actions while troubling did not reach a plateau beyond which disqualification could be justified.

The Political State has to decide whether it is committed to defining the characteristics by which it expects the conduct of its business to be executed without prejudicing the essential equality of its constituents.  As always, the freedom of the individual must be weighed against the freedom of action and cohesion of the group but rampant corruption and laissez-faire individuality in government does not help to achieve this goal.

MK Zuabi’s actions are as serious a threat to the group (nation) as the physical actions of Israel’s military adversaries.

If identity is the stabilising glue in forging statehood then Israel’s biggest challenge is neither Iran nor the Muslim Brotherhood; nor is it the Arab Winter.  The ultra-orthodox and the extreme Arab parties are equally opposed to integration because their tribal identity is of greater importance to them that the survival of the State.  It is not Israel’s secular and modern orthodox community that is desperate to create and preserve South African style Bantustans.  There are tens of thousands of Arabs living in Israel’s predominantly Jewish cities but any attempt at reverse osmosis results in violent opposition.  Apartheid, if it exists, has its most enthusiastic proponents amongst Muslim and Arab.

To change,  there must be political will and not the tribalised political compartmentalization which, in place of unity has led to a destructive and ideology based fragmentation of society.

MK Hanin Zuabi stated “The Court’s ruling proves that the attempts to bring about my disqualification were political and personal persecution against me,  against my party and against the entire Arab public.” (Ma’ariv December 31, 2012).  No, in Zuabi’s statement lies her crime.  She represents a divisive, racist approach to politics.

In the infamous May 2010 armada that attempted to break the blockade of Gaza, a blockade that even the UN (not known for its pro-Jewish tendencies) decreed to be legal, MK Zuabi sailed with the Mavi Marmara, the one boat in the fleet that was populated by racists known to actively support the anti-Semitic policies of the neo-Nazi Muslim regime in Gaza.

That makes her an enemy of the people of Israel.  Zuabi has a political vision based on her separate cultural identity.   It would be naive to believe that an argument that provides for separate development for the Arab nation and places the Arab above everyone else in the state is either meant to enrich the multi-ethnic tapestry of the State or to respect its non-Arab participants. It is a minority vision that represents an illegitimate expression of Arab racial superiority, and it is hegemonic. It negates the identity of the State of Israel – not just as a Jewish state but as a democratic state.

The current system is farcical. The perception that the state is in conflict with the courts has been encouraged through the grand-standing of the political classes that cater only to sectarian interests.

The Judiciary is the final bulwark against populism. The Supreme Court is the leveller, it guards against the most aberrant expressions of the popular will. It not only reflects Society but it provides stability by binding past and present.  Israel does not have a Constitution. Instead it has Basic laws and a Declaration of Independence. Both are guides to the permissible. The responsibility of the Supreme Court is to ensure continuity between the original vision and current circumstances.  It is the political classes that are at fault and not the court.

Zuabi’s latest legal adjudication saw no minority opinion opposing her participation in the forthcoming elections. The political process is fundamentally damaged, so utterly incoherent is it in its inability to enunciate an articulate vision that no court could seriously consider barring Zuabi even though she opposes the very essence of the state that has nurtured her from her birth.

Everyone has their own vision of what constitutes Zionism. For many it is not a Utopian concept but a blasphemous reminder of their Gods’ indifference.  For others it is worse. It is the physical manifestation of the renunciation of a militant vision of a pure and pleasant landscape: of minarets and prayer mats and a single monolithic theism ruling the landscape.  If the politicians are incapable of presenting and educating towards a Zionist ideal of universal peace and brother (sister) hood then the Supreme Court cannot be expected to adopt anything other than a rigid legalistic approach.

MK Hanin Zuabi recently wrote to a Christian priest, on parliamentary stationary, and   condemned him for his support of Christian enlistment in the IDF. Zuabi wrote (according to Ma’ariv) “I was saddened to hear about the meetings that discussed enlisting Arab Christian boys to the Israeli Army, which occupies our nation and represents oppressive entities.” (My italics). This priest has received death threats and now needs round the clock protection. Let us be clear, treason is defined as the betrayal of trust or allegiance to ones state.  Zuabi’s behaviour is treasonable.

It is the responsibility of Society to be inclusive. This MK places a segment of Israeli Society outside of what she defines as a legal entity; the majority are, for her, illegal.  Worse, she demonises everyone who does not wholly accept her narrative. The problem that the court would have to have wrestled with is that she is no different to the ultra-orthodox and other minority groups within Israel that are increasingly vocal in their opposition to the vision of a Zionist State for all its people.

Only a cohesive, all inclusive vision is capable of tolerating the other. That vision is rapidly being replaced by something repulsive and undemocratic. It is being done because no-one in the political mainstream has the courage or the ethical vision to present anything better.

MK Hanin Zuabi and her ilk will continue to have a place in the political landscape as long as there is not a broad front that is willing to publicly shame her and to present something better for those that vote for her.


  1. This is where democracy kicks us in our gut! Zoabi should have been tried for treason and her blue ID taken away from her!

  2. Here is a 'note' of encouragement to prove that, if there are any other MsK like this woman, they do not all speak for Arab-Israelis and other minorities:

    Anet Haskia is not the typical mom of a soldier serving in the Israel Defense Forces. A Muslim Arab, who grew up in a mixed Arab-Jewish city in the north, Haskia is breathing a little easier this week.
    For Haskia, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision not to enter the Gaza Strip last week was “brave and right.”
    The mother of three children, with a 20-year-old IDF combat soldier, Haskia told Tazpit News Agency, that “many Israeli soldiers’ lives were saved thanks to that decision.”
    “Going into Gaza would have yielded success for the Hamas terrorists. Israel did what it had to do for the time being to stop the rocket attacks and played it smart.”
    Haskia who was born and raised in Acre (Akko), a mixed Arab-Jewish city in the Western Galilee in northern Israel, is openly vocal about her support for the Jewish state of Israel.
    “I am proud to live in Israel,” she says. “I am even prouder that both my sons have served as soldiers for this country.”
    “If I was living in Gaza, I would have no rights as a woman under Hamas,” explained Haskia. “And you can’t expect anything different—Hamas is a terror organization, they treat people like animals with no regard to human life. They will never hold democratic elections like they do in Israel.”
    “I’m open about these truths,” adds Haskia. “The Arab MKs in the Israeli Knesset don’t represent me. The extremist left-wing in Israel also doesn’t represent me and others in my community who share my beliefs. Those corrupt politicians just contribute to hate, incitement and lies.”
    “When an IDF soldier is killed in combat, not one Arab MK will stand up and offer his condolences to the bereaved family,” she exclaims. “These Arab MKs enjoy democratic rights but don’t appreciate them.”
    Anet explains that her attitude towards the Jewish state as a member of the Arab minority country stems from the fact that she was raised in a home that “respected both Hebrew and Arabic-speakers.”
    “When I grew up in Akko, we had good relations between Jewish and Arab families.”
    “I realized early on that I wanted my children to advance in Israeli society. They studied in a private Jewish school on a kibbutz and were exposed to a different mentality. It was not an easy road, but I taught my children to always be proud of their identity and not to cry and whine like our politicians.”
    During Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense, Haskia did not just sit worrying over what may happen to her son—the proud mom did her share to help Israel as well. “Over 12 years, Hamas has been firing rockets at Israeli civilians and all you see are photos of Gaza in the media. Some of those photos are fakes,” Haskia pointed out.
    “I noticed many times in Arab media that ‘Gaza’ photos of bleeding civilians were actually photos from other Arab conflicts in the Middle East— Syria and Iraq for example. They were being used to incite hatred against Israel, so I started to post these fake photos and their origins on my Facebook wall.”
    Haskia has political ambitions as well. “I want to be part of Israeli politics some day and make a change by representing my people politically. There are many people who are too scared to speak up, who love Israel like I do and have done well here. They want a future where their children will not fall to hatred and incitement, but overcome that. I want to be their voice,” she concludes.