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Israeli Persecution of Haneen Zoabi

by Stephen Lendman Wednesday, Jan. 07, 2015 at 10:58 AM


Israeli Persecution of Haneen Zoabi

by Stephen Lendman

Zoabi is the first ever elected female Israeli Arab citizen Knesset member representing an Arab party. A University of Haifa and Hebrew University graduate.

A former math teacher. Earlier worked as an Israeli Ministry of Education school inspector.

In 2001, she joined the Balad party. In 2003, she co-founded the Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel (I'Iam). Remaining general director until 2009.

Switching to politics. Winning a Knesset seat. One of three Balad won in 2009.

Zoabi rejects the notion of Israel as a Jewish state. Calling it "inherently racist."

In an earlier interview, she called it "frustrating and exhausting…to be on the defensive about why I identify as a Palestinian, why I am not a Zionist, why the Jewish state is not democratic and cannot represent me, why I am entitled to citizenship."

In July 2010, Knesset members stripped her of key parliamentary rights and privileges. Following her participation in the Mavi Marmara's mission to bring vital humanitarian aid to Gaza.

In a Knesset address, she correctly called Israel's attack a "pirate military operation," saying:

"It was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail(ing), but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future."

She received death threats. She's vilified, harassed and threatened. Called a traitor for wanting her Arab heritage respected.

Physically assaulted by another Knesset member while speaking during legislative debate.

Israel's Interior Minister Eli Yishai called her Mavi Marmara participation a "premeditated act of treason." He wanted her stripped of parliamentary immunity. Her Israeli citizenship revoked.

In December 2012, Israel's Central Election Committee (CEC) disqualified her from seeking reelection. Two weeks later, Israel's High Court ruled otherwise.

Unanimously in her favor. Israeli Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein said "no sufficient, exceptional critical mass of evidence" justified disqualifying her.

She's an Israeli citizen. Qualified to run. Entitled to represent her people. Constituting 20% of Israel's population.

Treated like fifth column threats. Israeli Arab MKs treated like potted plants. With no say whatever over Israeli policy.

Last July, Israeli Attorney General Weinstein ordered Zoabi  investigated on charges of incitement and public disgrace.

Following comments she made about Israeli youth kidnappings. Speaking disrespectfully to police. Suspension from Knesset plenum participation for six months followed.

MKs voting 68 to 16 against her. Supporters were mostly Arab party members.

Free expression is a fundamental right. Not in Israel. Especially for Muslims. Zoabi was targeted for refusing to call June kidnappers terrorists.

Instead citing blowback. Asking: "Is it strange that people living under occupation and living impossible lives, in a situation where Israel kidnaps new prisoners every day, is it strange that they act this way?"

"They are not terrorists. Even if I do not agree with them, they are people who do not see any way open to change their reality, and they are compelled to use means like these until Israel wakes up and sees the suffering, feels the suffering of the other."

Israeli officials maligned her unfairly. Ultranationalist defrocked/reinstated Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wanted her killed, saying:

"The fate of the kidnappers and the fate of Zoabi, who incites and encourages the terrorists, ought to be the same."

Housing Minister Uri Ariel said she has a "consistent tradition of supporting terrorists." Unfit for Israeli citizenship "let alone Knesset membership."

A previous article discussed 20 academics calling for sanctions on Ariel and three other Israeli officials.

Saying they "promote…unjust, unlawful and destructive policies in their most extreme and dangerous form."

Including rejecting peace. Calling for "permanent occupation and unilateral annexation."

Ariel explicitly urges "one state between the Jordan River and the sea, and that is the State of Israel."

On stolen Palestinian land. With unlimited settlement construction. Exclusively for Jews. Wanting Palestinians systematically displaced.

International law be damned. Likeminded Israeli ministers and MKs espouse similar views.

After formal investigation began against her, Zoabi commented saying:

"The real incitement has been a flood of ugly statements from senior government figures since the summer - as well as regular acts of violence they have provoked on the street - against Palestinian citizens."

"No one is being suspended from the Knesset for that, nor investigated."

On January 7, Haaretz headlined "AG: Arab lawmaker to stand trial for incitement to violence, pending hearing."

Israel treats Palestinians like Hitler treated Jews. Many Arab citizens fare little better. Zoabi is lucky to be alive.

She's unjustly charged. For exercising her free expression rights. Ones democratic societies hold sacrosanct. She'll "stand trial," said Haaretz.

Pending a hearing. "(O)n charges of incitement to violence and offending a public official."

Reflecting police state justice. Common practice in Palestine. Against anyone Israel targets.

According to Haaretz, "Zoabi allegedly offended Arab police officers that represented the government in a hearing at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court."

She "raised her voice and called the Arab police officers traitors." Allegedly she yelled "ostracism."

"We should spit in their faces, those who testify against our sons and daughters, those who work with the oppressor against their own people."

"We should clean the floor with them…(D)on't let them be among us. They should fear us."

"When they're in the street they should fear us. They should fear the 'shabab' that are arrested by the informants they send."

"They are the ones who give information to the police that leads to the (lawless) arrest(s) of our sons and daughters."

"They stand here, the height of chutzpah. No fear, no respect…"

Zoabi is lawlessly charged with inciting violence. Despite no corroborating evidence.

Accusation alone suffices. Kangaroo court hearings await her. Their outcome remains to be seen.

Police state proceedings deny justice. Zoabi may be hung out to dry. Israel wanted rid of her long ago. Her ordeal ahead won't be pleasant.

Israel's state prosecutor turned truth on its head saying:

"MK Zoabis statements indicated that she called for violence against the police officers that were at the scene, as well as other police officers of Arab descent who also work against Arab suspects."

"She encouraged similar acts of violence, which according to her statements, the way she said them, and the circumstances, there was a real possibility of her words leading to acts of violence against Arab police officers, particularly the ones at the scene, to which her words were directed."

Avigdor Lieberman wants Zoabi prosecuted for what he calls "openly and consistently undermining the State of Israel."

"I hope that this time the High Court will not allow Zoabi to run once again for Knesset and will prove that those who act against the State of Israel and support its enemies cannot be a member of its parliament," he said.

MK Yariv Levin wants her prevented from running for public office. Stripped of her citizenship. Placed "behind bars."

MK Miri Regev wants her diplomatic immunity revoked. "(K)ick her out of the Knesset," she said.

Last week, MK Danny Danon initiated a controversial video campaign. Calling for Zoabi's imprisonment.

The Jerusalem Post said she'll be invited to a pre-indictment hearing. Enabling her to dispute charges.

It's "rare for the state to back off an indictment once there has been a public announcement," it said.

Last August, Weinstein said Knesset members have no immunity from police questioning. At the same time, they're immune from indictments.

If Israel's state prosecutor wants her indicted, he'll have to remove her immunity, he said. Violating Israeli law. Apparently no obstacle in Zoabi's case.

Attorney Hassan Jabareen represents Zoabi. No legal basis for charging her exists, he said.

"(T)he state prosecutor's office does not usually put elected officials on trial for momentary and spontaneous statements made during the heat of public political action, and thus if an indictment is issued, the prosecutor's office will have to explain its discrimination against MK Zoabi to the court, as in dozens of similar, and even more extreme cases, no indictments were issued, nor were any investigations started," he explained.

In December, Israel's High Court denied Zoabi's petition to overturn her six month Knesset suspension.

At the time, Attorney General Weinstein declined to open a criminal investigation on her refusal to call June kidnappings terrorism.

Saying "(u)nder these circumstances, there is real doubt whether these statements constitute incitement to violence or terrorism, as it is defined by the law."

"Therefore, and despite the fact that the MK's statements were severe, especially considering their timing, the attorney general decided not to open a criminal investigation against the MK on these statements."

Extremists infest Israel's government. Zoabi is up against a system intolerant of opposing voices.

Ones publicly against injustice. Especially outspoken Palestinians and Israeli Arab citizens. Rogue states operate this way. Israel ranks with the worst.

A Final Comment

Dr. Mads Gilbert is a Norwegian physician, humanitarian and activist for justice. A longtime Palestinian supporter.

Recipient of numerous awards. Israel banned him from entering Gaza for life. Outrageously claiming security reasons.

In 2009, he treated Israeli Operation Cast Lead victims. Many with horrific wounds he never saw before.

Severe internal chemical, biological and radiological burns. Effects of toxic gases. Severed arms and legs. Abdomens sliced open. Various other type horrific wounds.

During Operation Protective Edge, he returned to Gaza's killing fields. Witnessed horrors like before. Extreme suffering.

People treated more like animals than human beings. By the self-proclaimed world's "most moral army." Guilty of horrific war crimes.

In late July, he and 23 other doctors published an open letter. Published in the Lancet. Likely the real reason for his banishment. Saying in part:

"On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel."

"We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression."

"We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called 'defensive aggression."

"In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity. We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people."

"We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists. This is the third large scale military assault on Gaza since 2008."

"Each time the death toll is borne mainly by innocent people in Gaza, especially women and children under the unacceptable pretext of Israel eradicating political parties and resistance to the occupation and siege they impose."

"The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants."

"Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes..."

"We witnessed targeted weaponry used indiscriminately and on children…We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children's wellbeing."

"Israel's behaviour has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity…" Israeli terror bombing continued for another month.

Norway's largest tabloid, Verdens Gang (VG), named Gilbert person of the year.

Its editor Torry Pedersen called him a "self-sacrificing, engaged Norwegian doctor who again and again risked his life, stood in the middle of a bloodbath in Gaza, and who has just one goal: to save the lives of as many children as he can."

Gilbert accepted the award graciously. For "the long-suffering Palestinian people," he said. "People are longing for plain speaking," he added.

They want to know what really happened in Gaza. What MSM won't explain. "I'm trying to fill that role as best I can," Gilbert stressed.

Israel banished him for his heroic work. His forthright outspokenness. Zoabi is targeted the same way.

Israel remains unaccountable. Free to commit mass murder and destruction at its discretion. Perhaps planning more aggression as this article is written.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

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