Israel Lawlessly Indicts MK Sa'id Naffa - by Stephen Lendman
Israel reveals its rogue credentials daily. In mid-July 2010, its Knesset stripped MK Hanin Zoabi of key parliamentary rights and privileges for participating in the May 2010 Freedom Flotilla bringing vital aid to Gaza.
Since then, she's been vilified, threatened, and may be prevented from standing for reelection. Hard-liners call her a "traitor."
Arab MKs are accustomed to marginalization, threats, abuse, and lawless actions against them.
In November 2009, Hadash party chairman Mohammed Barakeh was bogusly indicted for allegedly assaulting a police officer during an anti-Separation Wall rally. Previous alleged incidents between 2005 and 2007 were included in charges against him.
The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights said indicting him criminalized "legitimate political activities (in an attempt) to harm the reputation and status of an Arab leader."
Barakeh called charges against him false, saying "The ones that are being violent and abusing freedom of demonstration and of speech are the police and security establishment."
He added that his indictment "reek(ed) of politics. It's not a personal (attack) but an attempt to terrorize and deter anyone wishing to exercise his democratic right to resist government policy."
Balad party MK Said Naffa's also targeted. On December 26, 2011, Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein indicted him for "illegally traveling to an enemy country" and assisting in organizing a visit for others.
At issue is Israel's 1948 Emergency Regulations (Foreign Travel) Ordinance. It never should have been passed in the first place. It's an affront to democratic rights and should be rescinded.
Other charges included "contact with a foreign agent." Allegedly it was for meeting with Talal Naji, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) deputy director-general. In addition, Naffa was accused of planning to meet Khaled Mashal, Hamas political bureau head. Israel spuriously calls them "terrorist organization" leaders.
In September 2007, Naffa went to Syria with about 300 Druze clerics and Israeli social activists. It was a holy pilgrimage, unrelated to politics.
His lawyer, Saud Ghanim said:
"The religious leaders' visit to Syria was purely for religious and humanitarian reasons. Even the Israeli Supreme Court regards the Israeli law that prevents these (type) visits as arbitrary. Therefore, the filing of an indictment in this regard is discriminatory, and the real problem is with the law and not the actual visit."
"We will challenge the constitutionality of this law before the court. (It) dates back to the emergency laws in place since the days of military rule and contradicts modern fundamental constitutional principles."
In fact, Naffa visited Syria to fulfill his MK duties as a public representative. Adalah said doing so "lies within the scope of his parliamentary immunity." Israel's High Court acknowledged it. Naffa acted legally and properly.
He noted Israel's double standard. After his trip, an Israeli Christian delegation visited Syria. Prosecutions didn't follow. Nor against Jews traveling to Iraq, other religious trips by Christians and Circassians, and Muslims going to Saudi Arabia.
Adalah said Naffa's charges "have no legal or constitutional" basis. Its lawyers unsuccessfully tried to get charges dropped. They were issued four years after his visit.
Earlier, Naffa unsuccessfully appealed for Knesset help. The relevant committee voted 9 - 2 to strip his immunity and declined to hear supportive legal testimony.
On January 30, Nazareth's District Court held its first hearing. Charges against him carry a maximum 15 year sentence. After being indicted, Naffa said he didn't harm state security. "There is a long court proceeding before me. I will fight for my innocence and the matter of immunity will (also) be discussed...."
"I do not regret the trip and I am no hypocrite. The issues I am forced to pay the price for were discussed here for many hours, and very much promoted the interests and rights."
In response, extremist MK Anastassia Michaeli said she'd initiate legislation to strip Naffa and others convicted of similar charges of citizenship immediately. "Maybe then they would think twice," she said.
Meretz party MK Ilan Ghilon said he'd "like to see (Netanyahu) travel in a bus or minibus to Damascus. Then no one would complain of a violation of the State's security."
Naffa is Druze. Before the Knesset committee voted, he addressed members saying:
"Today I am addressing a taboo. The establishment considers the Druze a trained herd whose place is to serve in the military and the Border Guard - a herd that has no feelings."
Former Israeli AG Menachem Mazuz said "Naffa ignored a decision by the authorized bodies and held a conspiracy meeting with one of the terrorist organization heads and tried to meet with another terrorist organization head, and such things are exactly what the law aims to prevent."
In fact, Hamas, PFLP, and other lawful resistance groups want Israel's lawless occupation ended and Palestine liberated. Their leaders and members aren't terrorists. They've victims of Israeli state-terrorism like all Palestinians.
Numerous examples confirm it, including other targeted Arab MKs. On May 31, 2010, following the Mavi Marmara massacre, mass demonstrations protested Israel's raid.
MK Taleb al-Sana said it "exposed the ugly face of Zionism and the violence and aggression of the government of Israel." He called it an act of "state terror" against a humanitarian mission and said those responsible should be tried for war crimes. "This event proves you don't have to be a German to be a Nazi," he added.
Al-Sana also participated in a Gaza border demonstration during which Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh spoke. In response, Israel's internal security minister Yitzhak Ahaonovitch asked for charges against him "for supporting a terror organization."
In February 2010, Islamic Movement northern branch head Sheikh Raed Saleh was sentenced to nine months for allegedly assaulting a police officer, a charge he denied. Like other Arab leaders, he was accused solely for his political affiliation and positions.
On February 2, 2010, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Harassing Arab MKs," saying:
Removing "Said Naffa's parliamentary immunity, like the decision to prosecute (other Arab MKs), is unwarranted, harmful and smacks of political persecution based on nationality."
Naffa's being scapegoated. He's not first Israeli MK to visit an Arab country, but he was targeted for doing it. Moreover, MKs rarely lose immunity for political reasons, unlike those accused of real criminality like corruption.
Nonetheless, "(i)nstead of calling on Arab lawmakers to act as a bridge between Israel and the Arab world, Israel puts them on trial under a law that should never have been passed in the first place."
Prohibiting MKs from visiting Arab countries not only impedes their lawful activities serving constituents, it's also discriminatory by targeting only Arabs, not Jews.
A Final Comment
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