'Zoabi has faced repellent, racist, masculine statements' – Adalah

December 24, 2012
Sarah Benton

In this posting: 1) photo caption from Mondoweiss; 2) Adalah briefing on its legal representation of Ms Zoabi; 3) statement of support for Zoabi from JfJfP; 4) Balad statement on an ‘act of political revenge’.

Philip Weiss writes in Mondoweiss, 22 December: More evidence of the disturbingly racist discourse in Israel: Ofer Neiman and Sol Salbe say this image featuring the face of Haneen Zoabi, the Israeli Palestinian member of Knesset who has been barred from running for reelection, appeared on a widely-read page on Facebook. Racist meme plays off the similarity in Hebrew between Hanin [Zoabi] and tanin (Hebrew for crocodile: Danger, Hanin.

Central Elections Committee Disqualifies MK Haneen Zoabi from Running in the Upcoming Israeli Elections

Central Elections Committee rejects disqualification motions against NDA-Balad and the United Arab List * Adalah represents Arab political parties and MK Haneen Zoabi

Media release, Adalah
December 19, 2012

[On] 19 December 2012 the Central Elections Committee (CEC) approved motions submitted by the Likud to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi from the upcoming Knesset elections by a majority vote of 19-9, with one abstention. However, the CEC voted not to disqualify Arab political parties Balad/Tajammoa’ (the National Democratic Assembly – NDA) and the United Arab List (Ra’am-Ta’al). The CEC’s decision to disqualify MK Zoabi is not final; it requires the approval of the Israeli Supreme Court, which will hold a special hearing at the beginning of next week.

The disqualification of MK Zoabi followed a lengthy session of the CEC this morning in the Knesset to decide on election disqualification motions filed against the two aforementioned Arab parties and MK Zoabi. NDA-Balad and MK Zoabi boycotted the session, while Adalah represented the parties and MK Zoabi.

Attorney Hassan Jabareen, Adalah’s General Director, represented MK Zoabi on a disqualification motion submitted by MK Ofir Akunis of the Likud. Attorney Jabareen argued before the Committee that, “The Supreme Court will scoff at the evidence presented on the issue of negating the Jewish nature of the state.” Regarding the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and the ship, the Mavi Marmara on which MK Zoabi was a passenger along with a group of human rights activists protesting against the blockade of the Gaza Strip, he argued that, “It is odd that the disqualification motion makes no mention of the Attorney General’s position, issued after an exhaustive investigation of the soldiers and after studying all the investigatory materials, that there is no basis for charging Haneen Zoabi with assaulting the soldiers.” Attorney Jabareen added that the motion also “disregards the Turkel Commission’s report, which clearly concluded that Zoabi was below deck on the ship and was not involved in any clashes with the soldiers.”

Attorney Jabareen further argued that, “There is no court in the world today that tries people on the basis of ideas; the court has to try people on the basis of their daily work and their systematic activities. And in the case at hand, which involves the disqualification of a parliamentary candidate, the disqualification motion before us does not talk about the activities of MK Zoabi in the parliament at all.”

Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher added before the CEC that, “The disqualification motion ignores MK Zoabi’s rich record in the Knesset. She has submitted 46 bills, 64 inquiries, and 124 proposals for the Knesset’s agenda, all of them in the fields of education, health, human rights and other social rights, including activities that affect all women in the state, or, for example, that relate to Ethiopian women.” Attorney Zaher emphasized in particular a bill to raise the legal age of marriage and for appropriate representation for women in local authorities.

Attorney Zaher concluded by saying that, “This disqualification and the incitement against MK Haneen Zoabi is not only directed against her as an Arab woman or because of her political positions, but it goes beyond that. It rises to the level of racist incitement against her as a woman. MK Zoabi has faced repellent and racist, masculine statements denouncing her, for example, just for being an unmarried woman!”

Today, the CEC also voted against disqualification motions filed against the United Arab List, by a 17-7 majority, and against Balad/Tajammoa’, by a 16-13 majority. Adalah Attorney Orna Kohn represented the two party lists against the motions, which were submitted by the Strong Israel political party and David Rotem of Yissrael Beiteinu, among others.

Attorney Kohn argued before the CEC that, “The criminal evidence against the two parties is in no way sufficient to disqualify them, as most of the evidence is based on newspaper quotations taken from internet websites, evidence which the Supreme Court has ruled to be very weak.” She further revealed that some of the quotations used in the disqualification motions could not actually be found at the cited sources, and that the beginning and end parts of the recorded evidence against MK Ahmad Tibi had been cut, leaving only a few seconds of the recording, and therefore had been presented outside of its true context.

For further details, please contact:
Salah Muhsin, Adalah’s Media Coordinator, at: +972-(0)52-5950922

JfJfP statement on Haneen Zoabi
December 23, 2012

JfJfP condemns the vote of the Israeli Central Elections Committee to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi, of the Balad Party, from running for the Knesset in the January elections. This decision comes in a context of increased discrimination and aggression against Palestinian citizens of Israel.  The grounds for the disqualification – the Balad party’s advocacy of a state for  all its citizens and Haneen Zoabi’s participation in the Mavi Marmara’s attempt to break the illegal siege of Gaza – are spurious.  The vote to disqualify Haneen Zoabi is not final until it is approved by the Israeli Supreme Court.  We call on the Supreme Court to overturn it.  And we call on the  Israeli government to revoke the laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel and to reform the electoral system so that Israeli Palestinian parties are accorded equal representation.

Balad: Knesset Elections Committee disqualifies MK Haneen Zoabi from running in the Israeli elections

Media Release Balad/IOA
December 22, 2012

On December 19, the Central Elections Committee voted to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi, of the National Democratic Assembly party (NDA – also known as Balad), from running for the Knesset in next month’s Israeli elections. The committee voted narrowly against disqualifying the whole NDA list, but approved by a majority of 19-9 the motion to bar MK Zoabi from standing for the Knesset.

The motion had been submitted by MK Offir Akunis, of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party. NDA representatives refused to attend the Elections Committee hearing on the grounds that the committee’s decision was politically driven. The committee is dominated by representatives of the Zionist parties, whose aim is to silence the voice ofIsrael’s Arab-Palestinian minority as represented by MK Zoabi.

The disqualification comes in the context of an increasingly hostile climate towards the Arab minority among the Jewish Israeli public. The move can also be seen as a continuation of measures over the past four years that include 20 discriminatory and/or racist laws enacted by the Netanyahu-Lieberman government against Israel’s Arab citizens and their elected representatives.

Following the vote, MK Haneen Zoabi called the decision “anti-democratic and illegitimate”, a form of political revenge that reflected the tyranny of the majority. “No one will determine for the Arab minority who represents it other than Arab citizens themselves,” she said. “I was elected to represent my people and, through their support, I have a legitimacy that the committee cannot take from me.”

According to Israeli law, the disqualification of a candidate is not final until approved by the Israeli Supreme Court. MK Jamal Zahalka, head of the NDA-Balad parliamentary bloc, said it would be an extremely dangerous precedent if the court approved the decision of the Elections Committee. “Disqualifying Zoabi is like disqualifying the whole party. It means changing the rules of the game and it will result in our boycotting the elections,” he said.

The NDA wholeheartedly condemns this decision, which is designed to delegitimise the party’s platform and silence a democratic movement representing the Arab-Palestinian public. Such a move is a clear example of political persecution aimed at excluding Arab representatives from the Knesset and, more generally, at instilling fear in the Arab electorate.

It is undemocratic for the majority to exclude minority representatives from the parliamentary process. It is therefore crucial that prior to the Supreme Court hearing expected on December 27 international civil society organisations, activists, parliamentarians and others make their voices heard protesting against such restrictions on minority rights in Israel. The disqualification of MK Zoabi should be publicly denounced andIsraelcalled upon to guarantee the rights of the Arab-Palestinian minority to free and effective participation in the general election.

For further details:
Einas Odeh Haj

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