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Israeli Media Deliberately Mangles Israeli Palestinian MK’s Interview on Kidnapping, Lieberman Calls for Death Sentence Against Her

Israeli Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi told Tel Avi Radio today that she understood the motivation of those who kidnapped three Israeli teenagers.  What she didn’t say is anything like what is being claimed across Israel and in the U.S. Jewish media.  First, the transcript of her full statement as quoted in Hebrew by Roy Peled here:

“Why is it considered strange that people living under Occupation, and living lives so insane amidst a reality in which Israel kidnaps [Palestinians] daily, is it so strange that they act this way?  They aren’t terrorists.  Even though I do not agree with them, they are people who see no possibility of changing their own reality.  So they are forced to use these means until Israel wises up and sees the suffering and feels the suffering of the other.”

My translation (above) is somewhat different than the one you’ll read linked at Facebook.

This is JTA’s completely mangled version which has made the rounds of every Israeli media outlet:

“They are people that cannot see any way to change their reality, and they are forced to use these means until Israeli society wises up a bit and sees and feels the suffering of the other.”

That’s it.  No “though I disagree with them.”  No context.  No nuance.  That is what the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation has become for Israelis.  The enemy is a cardboard cutout, a Jack in the Box clown who pops out saying the most disgusting things possible.  Israelis have no patience.  They don’t want to listen.  They prefer bowdlerizing reality as they bowdlerize what Palestinian leaders like Zoabi say.

Here is a Twitter dialogue of the deaf between Max Blumenthal and the Jerusalem Post reporter who published the false version, in which she claims she never heard Zoabi say “even though I don’t agree with them,” as she listened to the radio show in her native language.

Israeli journalism is as yellow as it gets when Palestinians are involved.  It stoops to the lowest, basest of human instincts.  If the world permitted lynching, Israeli media would cheer at the prospect.  Except unlike the Ramallah lynching which so rightly traumatized Israelis, this would be officially sanctioned, legal lynching.  There is little difference between the National Enquirer and Israeli media when it comes to this sort of reporting about Palestinians.

As a result of this scandalous, deliberate bit of character assassination, Zoabi is being skewered on TV and in print media.  They call her terrorist.  They call her traitor.  They call not only for her to be expelled from the Knesset, but to be killed.  No less a figure than Avigdor Lieberman, always one who may be counted on to make colorfully provocative statements about Arabs, called for a virtual death sentence for Zoabi:

 “Not only the kidnappers are terrorists, but Haneen Zoabi is one as well. The judgment against the kidnappers is the same as the judgment against the inciter Zoabi, who encourages kidnapping, must be identical.”

Yes, there will be pro-Israel apologists who will remind us there is no death sentence in Israel, so Lieberman couldn’t possibly have meant she should be killed.  But we all know that Lieberman doesn’t give a fig for judicial sentences.  He’s referring to the death sentence the IDF will mete out to the kidnappers when it catches them.  Just as Obama ordered the summary execution of Osama bin Laden, Netanyahu has told the IDF that they should kill the kidnappers if they find them.  Perhaps he doesn’t even have to tell the IDF.  It is understood between them with a wink and a nod that this will be the outcome.

Every Israel remembers what happened to the Bus 300 kidnappers captured alive and then executed by having their skulls crushed by rocks like bugs by Shabak executioners.  This was wasn’t even the first such summary execution.  But it grabbed the attention of the entire nation.  Now such an execution wouldn’t cause the scandal it did back then.  Now the executioner would be praised to the heavens and made a Shabak chief.

Of course, the IDF will say the kidnappers were armed and fired at them when apprehended.  There will be a firefight, the terrorists will throw bombs.  The army had no choice but to liquidate them.  And it’s a good thing they did.  Bringing honor to the army and restoring the dignity of the nation.  And some of this may even turn out to be true.  The perpetrators of the kidnapping may indeed resist.  But the reason they will is that they know their fate is to be executed when captured.

Similarly, this is the fate Lieberman is wishing for Zoabi.  He’d love for the IDF to put a bullet through her skull.  Of course, he can’t say this.  So he cleans it up a bit and says she deserves to share the kidnappers fate.  But every Israeli knows what he really means.

Returning to Zoabi’s interview, what she said is indeed precisely what all Palestinians feel about the abduction.  They wish it didn’t have to happen.  But given their misery at the hands of Israel, and the seeming permanence of their suffering, one could anticipate such feelings.   But her omitted demurrer conveys the sense: just because one understands them doesn’t mean that one shares them.

Of course Zoabi’s statement was provocative.  It was meant to be.  What does she care what Israeli Jews think about her?  They don’t vote for her anyway.  That, in a nutshell is the problem with the Israeli political system.  It rewards politicians and parties for carving out their ethnic niches and protecting them fiercely, even if it means stoking the hatred of other groups.  There is, of course, a way to stop this dysfunction and fragmentation.  But it’s a solution most Israelis treat just as Count Dracula views garlic or the rising sun: the one-state solution.  A single state would force all Israeli parties to cobble together inter-ethnic coalitions.  It would force Israeli Jews and Palestinians to find common ground at least to a greater extent than they do now.

On a related matter, I’ve accused Bibi Netanyahu of lying in blaming Hamas for the kidnapping.  Now, a former Mossad unit chief, Rami Igra, tells the Jerusalem Post that he too believes Bibi is wrong.  The reason that the former is blaming Hamas, Igra says, is purely political:

“The facts are very simple,” he said by phone.  These kids have gone missing…but no one has claimed responsibility, and their bodies have not been found. There have been no facts presented to the public that they have been abducted by Hamas, so we need the correct information.”

…“The fact that he is naming who abducted these kids is more political than based on fact,” he said.  “Netanyahu says that the people who did this are part of a terrorist organization, and we all agree. But at this point, while it could be true, it is premature.”

Igra continued: “At this stage, there are only indications that they have been abducted but no evidence.  They could have been killed. We hope this is not the case and that they were abducted, but we don’t know yet.”

Make no mistake.  I am not claiming Igra is an angel sent from on high to tell us all the truth.  He is after all a former Mossad officer and willing to lie for his country when it suits.  But in this case, he is telling us the truth because that is what suits.  We have a grizzled veteran of Israel’s intelligence wars telling us that his Mossad contacts tell him that the prime minister is the emperor with no clothes.  We should take notice.

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Daniel F. June 18, 2014, 3:52 AM

    האם זה מוזר שאנשים שנמצאים תחת כיבוש וחיים חיים לא נורמליים, במציאות בה ישראל חוטפת כל יום עצירים, זה מוזר שהם נוהגים ככה? הם לא טרוריסטים. גם אם אני לא מסכימה איתם, הם אנשים שלא רואים שום פתח לשנות את המציאות שלהם, והם נאלצים להשתמש באמצעים האלה עד שישראל “תתפכח ותראה את הסבל, תרגיש את הסבל של האחר

    The key point here for me is this part of Zoabi’s statement
    וחיים חיים לא נורמליים, במציאות בה ישראל חוטפת כל יום עצירים
    “…living an abnormal life,in a reality in which Israel kidnaps youngsters daily”

    Israel does not kidnap youngsters daily and to say so is to legitimize the actions of the kidnappers.
    The reality of life under Israeli control cannot be used as a justification for the kidnapping of three Israeli youngsters.
    Kidnapping is wrong, Zoabi cannot qualify that by viewing the kidnapping in the context of life in the shadow of Israel.

    Unfortunately Zoabi cannot show the respect that she expects for her freedom of speech, to her own cousin, Mohammad Zoabi
    who posted a video on YouTube in which he called in English, Hebrew and Arabic for the release of the three kidnapped Israeli teens.

    • Elisabeth June 18, 2014, 12:44 PM

      And can Mohammed Zoabi live next door to you now? Can he date your daughter? Is he a ‘good’ Arab?

  • Daniel de França June 18, 2014, 6:23 AM

    Dear Richard,

    During the military dictatorships in my country, Brazil, there were several black flag operations to convince the people that the armed popular opposition also target civilians. The most famous case was when a bomb exploded in the hands of a sergeant, when he was installing a bomb in a civilian car.

    link to pt.wikipedia.org

    Do you think this is kidnapping also a case of black flag?

    • Mirjen B. June 20, 2014, 1:34 PM

      That’s exactly what I’ve been asking myself, Daniel.

      • Pat Nyguyen June 21, 2014, 1:30 PM

        Mirjen, sadly you have drifted from your fathers legacy

        • Richard Silverstein June 22, 2014, 2:29 AM

          @ Pat Nguyen: Who are you to make any comment on Mirjen or her father? I find that offensive. She didn’t ask for your opinion about her father or his legacy.

  • Rain June 18, 2014, 11:38 PM

    Zoabi’s problem (at least from my perspective) is that as a politician she can’t resist mixing up her messaging with one or two overly provocative sentences that stand out from the rest – and only those get published in the mainstream press. I guess as a strategy for addressing a Palestinian audience this works for her, but as a strategy for addressing a Jewish Israeli audience she manages to alienate with the provocative stuff so that no one listens to what she’s really saying.

    I heard her speak on the army radio a day or so ago and she tried to explain her intentions and statements more clearly. But between a fairly hostile presenter and a lack of her own clarity in getting her message across it was a wasted 10 minutes. Yariv Oppenheimer wrote a piece with basically the same messaging at link to ynetnews.com but since he didn’t use provocative language no one’s that interested in what he has to say.

    The headline is everything. The minute that Zoabi used a statement like “they are not terrorists” the deal was done from a headline perspective, whether or not she qualified it afterwards. And of course she understands this. Zoabi, like every other Israeli politician, knows how to press the media buttons.

    • Deïr Yassin June 19, 2014, 1:28 AM

      Oh, because you’re telling us that the Israeli Jewish audience listen to people like Jamal Zahalka, Ahmed Tibi or Mohamed Barakeh ? I have the impression that whenever they open their mouth, their words are misrepresented in the MSM (or maybe Israelis just don’t get that these people are human beings). Compared with the average crap by Jewish politicians (that include ‘moderates’ like Yair Lapid) that is published without any criticism, let’s be clear about this: we’re dealing with a racist society that doesn’t want the Arabs as anything else that docile Uncle Toms.
      PS. Haneen Zoabi was in France recently, an interview was published with her 3-4 days ago on the biggest newsmedia online, Rue89. All the average hasbarats were out there too, demonizing her, well, she had the guts to ask for a secular State where Jews and Arabs are equals (i.e. the destruction of Israel and annihilation of the Jewish people by Hasbara Central).

      • Rain June 19, 2014, 2:45 PM

        The society I live in (and Zoabi) is far more complex than the picture you’re trying to paint. Obviously Israel has its share of racists and unfortunately the right-wing are sitting in government and ruining everything for the rest of us but sweeping broad statements that suggest that every Israeli is a racist are slightly ridiculous.

        My point is that Zoabi is an Israeli politician who knows how to play the game just like the rest of them. When she makes provocative statements she knows full well that people like Lieberman are going to respond with even more provocative words. They both have agendas and they do not include getting the other side to listen, whether the other side is willing or not. Most right and center Israelis Jews are willing to listen to Zoabi about as much as Israel Arabs are willing to listen to Lieberman.

        • Deïr Yassin June 19, 2014, 11:41 PM

          Well, I’m not sure Haneen and you live in the same society (in the same state, yes). Read her long interview in Haaretz, she says she has no Jewish friends left. You think SHE turned away from her friends or the other way around ?

      • Daniel F. June 22, 2014, 10:44 PM

        @Deïr Yassin,
        Rather late reply here but it’s something that I wanted to write since I briefly read your comment;

        “racist society that doesn’t want the Arabs as anything else that docile Uncle Toms”

        1) I do not believe that Israel is more racist than most countries I know….. I do not expect you to agree.

        2) Renouncing violence does not make an Arab into a docile Uncle Toms.
        I think that the thing that most disturbs Israelis about their Arab neighbors is the impression, that given the
        chance, those Arab neighbors would onto them what the ISIS is doing to it’s perceived enemies in Iraq.
        Violence, the threat of violence, support for violence or even implied support for violence causes a knee jerk
        reaction among Israelis that sends us into “circle the wagons” mode.
        Violence, when used against Israel plays into the hands of those in the Israeli right who do not want to compromise
        with the Palestinians.
        When a viable, united and determined Palestinian movement, that fights for Palestinian rights through non violent means
        finally comes about, you will be surprised at it’s success and the sympathy it will receive from many of the Israeli public.

        • Richard Silverstein June 23, 2014, 3:03 AM

          @Daniel F.: Stuff & nonsense. The onus is always placed by people like you on the Palestinians: if only they did this, if only they did that. Only under such conditions can Israelis be expected to make peace. The responsibility isn’t on the Palestinians to do all the heavy lifting. The responsible should be on the Israelis, who hold immense power compared to almost none on the part of Palestinians.

          Those Palestinians who’ve tried to found a non-violent movement have been treated with the same brutality and violence as Palestinians favoring armed resistance. Sometimes even moreso. ANY Palestinian who offers resistance of any kind, whether violent or non-violent, is a threat to Israel & treated as such.

        • Deïr Yassin June 23, 2014, 1:51 PM

          @ Daniel

          We were talking about Palestinian citizens of Israel. What the h… does Jamal Zahalka, Barakeh, Zoabi, Bishara etc have to do with ISIS ? Fortunately you have the civil war in Syria to ‘explain’ the current situation. I wonder what the excuse was during the 20 years when Palestinian citizens of Israel lived under military curfew and needed a pass to travel even to neighbouring villages (1948-1966)…
          I’m sorry but it Zoabi is so hated in Israel (Haaretz called her the most hated woman in Israel, Derfner Public Enemy No. One – I know neither Haaretz nor Derfner share that opinion) there must be a reason: ’cause she a proud Arab !
          Mehdi Hassan from Al-Jazeera in his “The Café” had a round-table with Zoabi, Shlomo Sand, two ‘moderate’ Israelis, Ronen Shoval from Im Tirzu and some settler leader. The hatred towards Zoabi was so clear, she even had to turn her body not to look at the two right-wing extremists sitting on the other side of the table. One of them said that if she wasn’t content she was free to leave….(the programme is on youtube).

    • Richard Silverstein June 19, 2014, 2:49 PM

      @ Rain: I’m afraid you’ve hoisted yourself by your own petard. You complain that Zoabi needlessly provokes Israeli Jews and that if she spoke differently she wouldn’t do so. But in the same breath you say Yariv Oppenheimer knows how to speak properly to Israeli Jews and as a result “no one’s interested in what he has to say.” So what you’re essentially saying is that it would be fine with you if she spoke in a way Israeli Jews could easily ignore.

      But my problem with that is that it’s not her job to speak in a way either you or Israeli Jews find acceptable. It’s not her job to speak in a way she can be ignored. It’s her job to represent her constituency as forcefully & usefully as possible. As one way to do that is for her to tell Israeli Jews what she and every other Israeli Palestinian believes. Which is what she does quite well. So I’m really sorry for her inconvenient forthrightness, but I see no reason for her to speak differently.

      Finally, this reminds me precisely of how the American public viewed the speeches of Malcolm X. White people hated him & virtually every word out of his mouth at the time he spoke them. He was a lightning rod for everything white people hated about Black people. Malcolm was angry, he was intolerant, he was charismatic, he was fiery, etc. etc. But guess what? He was right. And now every American and most whites who know what he stood for, accept that. Today, Malcolm would be a U.S. senator or CEO (if he wanted that). The same will happen with Zoabi if Israel follows the right road. If it doesn’t well…all bets are off.

      • rain June 20, 2014, 12:43 AM

        I didn’t say she needlessly provokes Israeli Jews. I said she deliberately makes provocative comments which isn’t the same thing at all. Obviously she should speak as she sees fit. But also obviously she’s well aware that the mainstream reaction will be to the provocative headline instead of to the true substance of what she us saying, which is a pity. Her political strategy uses provocative headlines for maximum publicity, and in this she plays the political game for her voters like so many other Israeli politicians. The few seconds of headlines are more important than anything else I fear.

        • Richard Silverstein June 21, 2014, 1:47 AM

          @ rain: And as I said before, your reaction is precisely the same as the white reaction to Malcolm X. Not a single letter is different in your reaction. Amazing how little history changes over decades. Just as Malcolm was a brave, courageous, and righteous representation of his people, so is Haneen Zoabi of hers, regardless of your opinions.

  • Mirjen B. June 19, 2014, 3:07 PM

    I’m a Roman Catholic Dutch woman who grew up in a very pro-Israel family – my father, mainly. The Sabra and Shatily massacre all but floored him, but he kept his hopes up. I was a teenager at the time, and I was far more judgmental than he was. Life went on. I got an education, got a job, got married, we had two children and we live a happy life. Our 28th wedding anniversary is in the offing. When the latest round of peace negotiations started, I wanted to learn more about it, about the reasons why they never seem to lead to anything. Which is how I came across your website. As I find your blogs very interesting, and a welcome variation on what I read on Times of Israel and other websites, I would like to subscribe to your website.

    • Richard Silverstein June 19, 2014, 5:35 PM

      @ Mirjen B: Click on the link at the top of the page for “Subscribe to Daily Digest.” Fill in your e mail address & you’ll be subscribed to a daily e mail notice when I write new blog posts. I can also subscribe you myself. You’ll have to confirm your subscription via a follow up e mail.

      I also strongly recommend my friend, Mark Klempner’s The Heart Has Reasons, a book about five Dutch Righteous Gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

      • Mirjen B. June 20, 2014, 9:33 AM

        Thanks, Richard! I’ve done that. Thank you as well for the tip about the book.

    • Elisabeth June 20, 2014, 5:46 AM

      Dear Mirjen,
      A very good site in the Dutch language is
      link to abu-pessoptimist.blogspot.nl

      • Mirjen B. June 20, 2014, 9:30 AM

        Thank you, Elisabeth!

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