6 June 2010
[see our earlier posting Knesset in uproar as Arab MK Hanin Zoabi tries to speak]
A few days ago I featured here a story from the Israeli TV news about a shocking near riot in the Israeli Knesset over an address to that body by one of its members, Haneen Zoabi, who had been released the day before after participating in the Gaza flotilla. The TV news story, if anything, tempered the raw, seething hatred with which Zoabi was greeted in the Knesset by the many far-rightist MKs who not only loathed her, but were clearly prepared to beat her to a pulp if given half a chance.
This YouTube video is the raw footage direct from the Knesset video feed and thus contains more immediacy than the edited footage on the TV news. Unlike the previous video, it is also English-captioned, conveying the emotion in the taunting with more immediacy than the uncaptioned video. You’ll note that the reason Zoabi is addressing the Knesset is on a point of personal privilege after other members had accused her of carrying knives on the floor of the Knesset and being a terrorist, traitor, and murderer (the latter a stretch considering if anything the IDF did the murdering and not Zoabi). She was given 5 minutes to address the personal charges against her. But not only did members heckle her address, the acting speaker, ostensibly to control the hecklers, interrupted her at will. He then had to audacity to tell her that her five minutes were up even though she’d barely gotten out a few sentences.
Even more disturbing at the end is an interaction with the male Knesset member who accused her of carrying knives, in which she courageously confronts him and he rages at her as if he would tear her limb from limb. It is portrait of raw Israeli male aggression and frightening to behold.
Knesset security then proceeds to forcibly remove Zoabi from the hall, only to be interrupted by the Knesset speaker who bellows to the assembled body: “Lifting a hand against an MK? Is that what we want the world to see? Don’t force her out. MK Zoabi, have a seat. Knesset security is collaborating with them [the rightists, in forcing her out of the hall].” A very telling interchange. In other words, the only reason Zoabi is not evicted is TV cameras and the fact that the Knesset speaker knows the whole world is watching.
This may be why the Shin Bet prefers acting in the shadows and slapping gag orders and travel bans on Israeli dissidents, especially Israeli Palestinians. Authoritarian regimes flourish in darkness and wither in daylight. This is also why the Gaza flotilla debacle has helped expose the stinking moral corruption not only of Israel’s Gaza siege, but of the entire Occupation.
I’lam, the Israeli Palestinian media NGO released this statement in light of the attacks on Zoabi. The statement details further alarming, blatantly anti-democratic measures advocated against her in light of her involvement in the Gaza flotilla:
Since the attack in the Knesset, MK Danny Danon said the Knesset’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation had agreed to debate a bill to allow for removing acting MKs from their position if they were found to have committed incitement against the State of Israel, while a request had been submitted to the Central Elections Committee to block MK Zoabi from being able to run in any future Knesset election. Interior Minister Eli Yishai is seeking the Attorney General’s permission to revoke her parliamentary immunity in order for Haneen Zoabi to be stripped of her citizenship!
The treatment of MK Zoabi and the violation to her freedom of expression is a gross violation of the freedom of expression of her political constituency, a significant portion of the Palestinian community in Israel. The political persecution that followed with the slew of bills being proposed is a serious assault on the freedom of expression of Palestinian citizens of the state.
…Charges of “traitor” and “terrorist” are leveled at those who attempt to lift the siege as a matter of international humanitarian imperative. This forces us to question – what are the values of a system that…equates humanitarian assistance to Palestinians with terrorism? Are these values in keeping with the values of the international community and the principle of human dignity that is meant to inform international human rights law?
Important questions. If Haneen Zoabi didn’t enjoy parliamentary immunity she’d undoubtedly be bound and tied to the same chair to which the Shin Bet tied Ameer Makhoul when they interrogated and tortured him. What a country!
Video h/t to Dena Shunra.