Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Conflict in the Knesset

This Haaretz report of a Knesset exchange sounds a bit like confrontations in the United States Senate in the runup to Civil War:
Tempers flared in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday between Knesset members and MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad), [an Israeli Arab member] after she took part in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Zoabi accused the government during the parliamentary discussion of treating the Israel Navy's bloody raid of a Turkish-flagged ship as a "pirate military operation".... 

Zoabi called on the government to open a national panel of inquiry into the incident, and asked why it was so opposed to international calls for an impartial and external probe.

Meanwhile, MK Miri Regev (Likud) accused Zoabi of being "responsible for a double crime: Joining terrorists, and a moral crime against the state of Israel." Regev then called at her in Arabic: "Go to Gaza, you traitor."

"She sat here over a year ago and pledged allegiance to the state of Israel and its laws," Regev claimed. "I have no intention of stifling free speech, but in the case of MK Zoabi - it is not freedom of speech. The Gaza flotilla was a terrorist flotilla and MK Zoabi needs to be punished. We don't need Trojan horses in the Knesset."

Hadash-Ta'al MK Mohammed Barakeh called the Israeli government "a gang of pirates" during the discussion, saying "you are crazy - you swim against the world and harm your nation, driving it down the drain."

Zoabi had been granted the floor by Knesset speaker Reuven Rivli to make a personal statement. The Jersusalem Post adds:
The invitation to Zuabi, led to a breakout of fierce verbal altercations, resulting in the ejection of Kadima MK Eli Aflalo, Balad MK Jamal Zahalka and Israel Beiteinu MK Anastasia Michaeli.

Several more MKs were ejected during Zuabi's speech. Ironically some of the ejected MKs subsequently returned to the chamber, continuing to cause a commotion and receiving further verbal warnings from Rivlin...

[Zuabi] criticized those attacking her, saying "Who is the criminal?  Did I murder anyone?".

At this point an MK shouted "check if she has a knife" resulting in uproar. 

I am reminded of the results of a recent poll reported by the Jerusalem Post in March:

A new Ma’agar Mohot poll has produced somewhat disturbing findings regarding the attitudes of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren about Arab Israelis.

According to the poll, taken among 536 15-18-year-olds, 50 percent of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren believe that Arab Israelis should not be granted rights equal to their Jewish counterparts.

Furthermore, 56 percent of Jewish Israeli schoolchildren surveyed said Arab Israelis should be prevented from running for Knesset, while 50% of the Jewish youngsters who defined themselves as religious said they believe the “Death to Arabs” slogan was legitimate.
I imagine that Netanyahu will pay for triggering this diplomatic and strategic disaster. Israel remains a democracy that rewards failure with ouster. But time is not on democracy's side there.

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