The Only Democracy in the Middle East™ is once again showing its true colors by further stripping parliamentary privileges from its only female Israeli-Palestinian member, Haneen Zoabi. As a result of Knesset action today, she will no longer be allowed to address the Knesset or vote in committee debates.
Last year, the lovers of democracy in the Knesset stripped her of her diplomatic passport, financial assistance for legal support she might require (and believe me, Israeli Palestinian MKs need tons of such support because they are under continual investigation by the Shabak), and the right to visit countries having no relations with Israel (cf. virtually all Arab countries).
To think all these wonderful new developments were brought to us by the Knesset “Ethics” committee. It’s like Alice in Wonderland where the White Rabbit tells Alice that a word means exactly what he wants it to mean regardless of what its real meaning is. In the rest of the sane world this would be considered a travesty of ethics. In Israel, it represents the epitome of ethics. If this isn’t a climb down the rabbit hole, I don’t know what is.
This is all a punishment for Zoabi exercising her parliamentary and citizen’s rights to oppose Israel’s siege of Gaza by sailing on the Mavi Marmara last year. Interesting that some of my readers, when I protested against her being pilloried in Knesset and physically attacked by right wing MKs, they pooh-poohed my concerns and said I was making a mountain out of a molehill. Now I say, “right back at ya fellas.” What the Likud dominated Knesset is doing is a slow auto da fe of Zoabi’s democratic rights as a member. It is shameful. It is anti-democratic. But alas it is entirely typical of latter day Israel. Or at least its political system.
Who wishes out there to claim that Israel is a democracy? That it treats its Arabs well? I dare you to try to address this outrage in any meaningful way short of admitting it’s a travesty of justice and democracy.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.