UN-Palestine State

Israel’s splendid isolation

Uri Avnery reviews Israel’s international isolation and assesses the consequences of a US veto or non-veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to the Israeli occupation. More »

US torture

America and the forgotten futility of torture

Lawrence Davidson says showing once more that torture is futile will not stop it from recurring in the USA, and that the only deterrence is to hold the politicians responsible to account. More »

US imprisoned by Israel

US feels the heat on Palestine vote at UN 

Jonathan Cook says while Europe is becoming increasingly disenchanted with Israel, as shown by the growing recognitions of Palestine, US policy towards Israel is paralysed by fear of upsetting the Zionist lobby. More »

Ziad Abu Ein

Whitewashing a Palestinian minister’s murder

Jamal Kanj examines the murder by Israeli Wehrmacht soldiers of Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein and the subsequent propaganda blitz by Israel and its Western stooges and nincompoops to whitewash the murder. More »

Alon Ben-Meir

Israel’s Jews trapped in their own narrative

Alan Hart explains why Israeli Jews must acknowledge that a terrible wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism in the name of all Jews and that this wrong must be righted. More »

Media determinism

Free choice vs media determinism

Lawrence Davidson questions the extent of free will, whether in commercial or political choices, in the face of media manipulation amounting to determinism and exercised through advertisements and selective news and emphasis. More »

Sanctions Russia Israel

Palestine and Europe’s symbolic gestures

Alan Hart says Europe needs to go beyond gestures towards Palestine and submit a Security Council resolution with an ultimatum for Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories or face international sanctions. More »

Ethnic cleansing

Israel’s ethnic cleansing manifesto

Jamal Kanj argues that Israeli politicians such as the present foreign minister, the Moldovan former nightclub bouncer Avigdor Lieberman, are seeking to complete the ethnic cleansing begun by Israel’s founders in 1948. More »

Israeli elections 2015

Israel’s upcoming election choices

Uri Avnery advocates a centrist-leftist election bloc to contest Israel’s upcoming polls, which he argues will decide between a racist, warmongering state or a democratic state at peace with the Palestinians. More »

Guernica

The nightmare we called the “Arab Spring”

Nureddin Sabir says the “Arab Spring” had been misunderstood from the start and, at least in Syria and Libya, what were said to be pro-democracy revolutions were in fact Islamist insurrections. More »

Daily Archives: January 4, 2013

Israel’s persecuted truth teller

Haneen Zoabi, exposer of Zionist racism and bigotry

By Lawrence Davidson

Haneen Zoabi is an Arab-Israeli member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. She was elected in 2009 as a member from the Balad Party. Balad is an Arab party that was formed in 1995 with the aim of “struggling to transform the state of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens”.

In the West, this is a perfectly normal goal. But Israel’s Zionist ideology disqualifies it as a “Western” nation. Thus Balad’s aim is in direct opposition to the Zionist idea of Israel as a “Jewish state”, a concept that Ms Zoabi labels “inherently racist”.

Haneen Zoabi and her mission

Apparently, Haneen Zoabi is fearless. She actually lives her principles. She has been campaigning loudly and very publicly for full citizenship rights for Israel’s Palestinians. She has also actively opposed Israel’s settlement movement, occupation policies, and its siege of Gaza. That last effort led her to participate in the international flotilla that sought to break the Gaza siege in May of 2010. That was the time Israeli commandos attacked the Mavi Marmara in international waters, killing nine Turkish activists who tried to resist the assault on their ship.

Ms Zoabi… is just the worst nightmare of an ethnocentric state, and a government pushing racist policies while trying to pretend it is a democracy.

In an outright dictatorship, Ms Zoabi would be in jail or worse. And, given the direction of Israel’s political evolution, that still might be her fate. But as of now she is just the worst nightmare of an ethnocentric state, and a government pushing racist policies while trying to pretend it is a democracy. It is a nightmare for the Israel’ s Zionist leadership because Zoabi, as a member of the Knesset, insists that if the Israeli Jews won’t allow full citizenship for non-Jews, as a real democracy must, then she is not going to let them pretend anymore. Yet pretence is all that is left of Israel’s international persona. If the “Jewish state” loses the ability to posture as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, the country’s reputation in the world is, as the saying goes, fit for the dust hole.

Think of it this way. Israel is the nation-state equivalent of Oscar Wilde’s fictional character Dorian Gray. Gray is a man who never seems to be anything but young, good-looking and successful. However, hidden away in some closet there is an extraordinarily ugly and frightening portrait of him, and it is this portrait that ages and reflects the meanness and brutality of Gray’s true character. Haneen Zoabi has uncovered such a portrait of Israel and insists on going about showing everyone the state’s real characteristics. She wants the world to see the true picture. That is why the Israeli government is trying to destroy Haneen Zoabi.

The persecution

The catalyst for the campaign against Zoabi was her presence on the Mavi Marmara in 2010. Not only was she on a ship attempting to bring humanitarian assistance to over 1.6 million Gazans living under an illegal Israeli embargo, but, she was also an eyewitness to nine official Israeli acts of murder.

To the acts of collective punishment, the shelling and bombing of civilian neighbourhoods, and the seemingly random murder of civilians by Israeli border snipers, can now be added a deadly attack on a civilian vessel in international waters. All of these actions are criminal under international law and they all easily fall into the category of state terrorism. However, in the Kafkaesque world of Zionism, it is Ms Zoabi who became the “terrorist.”

When, on 2 June 2010, she returned to the Knesset following the the Mavi Marmara incident and insisted on bearing witness to Israeli offences, she was shouted down by her “outraged” fellow members of the Knesset, most of whom saw Zoabi as a traitor. Her efforts to describe what she had seen reduced the Knesset session to “pandemonium” (see video below). From that point Ms Zoabi received “hundreds of threats, by letters, by email, by phone call”. In July 2011, while contesting statements being made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, she was ejected from the Knesset by the chamber’s Speaker who then suspended her from further participation based on a grossly exaggerated charge that she had assaulted one of the chamber’s ushers.

Meanwhile, members of the prime minister’s party, Likud, conspired to ban Ms Zoabi from running in the upcoming Israeli elections (scheduled for 22 January 2013). The Knesset’s Ethics Committee voted that Zoabi had violated Article 7A of Israel’s “Basic Law” which states that a candidate for or member of the Knesset “cannot reject Israel as a Jewish and democratic state …or support armed combat by an enemy state or terror organization against the state of Israel”. Some Israelis claim that the group organizing the flotilla efforts to break the Gaza siege is a terrorist organization, but that is clearly nonsense. On the other hand, there can be little doubt that Ms Zoabi is shouting from the rooftops the blatant fact that “Israel as Jewish and democratic state” reflects a deep and tragic contradiction.

According to such luminaries of the Israeli right as MK Danny Danon, Ms Zoabi has “spit on the state”. She does not belong in the Knesset, according to Danon, “she belongs in jail.” (Danon is also the politician who had the clever idea of inviting Glenn Beck, an incendiary right-wing American TV talk-show personality, to address the Israeli parliament.)

Subsequently, Israel’s Supreme Court declared the banning of Haneen Zoabi was unconstitutional, but Danon has replied that he and his allies are ready with “Plan B”. They will simply have the Knesset change the law so as to prevent future electoral campaigns by anyone like Ms Zoabi.

Conclusion

Politicians with dictatorial leanings instinctively avoid their own reflection. They cannot admit the consequences of their own actions and policies and they cannot tolerate others who publicly expose those consequences. Like Dorian Gray, they restrict the ugly truth to some hidden closet. Yet, eventually, someone like Ms Zoabi comes along and takes up the role of truth-teller.

There is another issue that her efforts bring to light. It is that the interests of the state (understood here as a government) and the interests of the nation (the collective occupants of a country) may not always be the same. Governments most often represent cliques or classes or elites or ideologues, etc. Those in power, ruling in the interest of these smaller constituencies, simply assume that their own parochial interests stand for the “national interest”.

Ms Zoabi is insisting that the Israeli state cease identifying itself with the interest of a single constituency and start representing the interests of the nation as a whole. What this is all about, she says, are “the values, the humanistic, universalistic values of freedom, of equality, of justice”. But there is nothing “universalistic” about Zionism and so, for her efforts, she is castigated and threatened.

Such is the state that Zionism has built.