Israel/Palestine: Haneen Zoabi standing up to fundamentalisms and apartheid
During the visit by leaders of the Palestinian community to Libya a few months ago, MK Hanin Zuabi (Balad ) stood out in particular - the only woman in the "Arabs of 1948" delegation invited to visit Muammar Gadhafi. When we met with Gadhafi in his tent in the town of Sert, this remarkable woman showed courage that is rare in these parts. The leader preached to us and advised us to practice one of the tenets of Islam - marry four women and bring many children into the world to fight the Israelis. Zuabi, who is known for her struggle for the rights of Palestinian women in Israel, did not hesitate and pointed out to Gadhafi that his philosophy was not acceptable to her because it oppresses women. The tent went silent. It's not customary to interrupt the leader, we had been told in the briefing before the meeting. Gadhafi listened and simply went on with his speech.
This story proves that Zuabi is cut from tough and unyielding cloth - an uncompromising fighter for her party's principles both domestically and abroad.
It's only natural the targeted assassination campaign led by members of the Knesset, which transcends party lines and opinions and is aimed at expelling Zuabi from the Knesset, would gain momentum. Zuabi, like most Arab MKs, is a nuisance to the various racists, and the delegitimization campaign against her is an inseparable part of the official efforts, with a tailwind from the obsequious Hebrew-language press, to declare Balad illegal.
The remnants of what is called "Israeli democracy" are getting lost in the name of protecting the Jewish State of Israel. It's the Israelis' right to think what they want, but it's our obligation to defend our principles, even if this entails a high individual and collective price. The Palestinians in Israel will not agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The Palestinians, the authentic owners of the land here, are an inseparable part of the Arab nation. They were here before Israel, they are not transients and they are certainly not guests in their native land.
The efforts to expel from the Knesset the Arabs who are representing their voters, in addition to the racist laws the current Knesset has promoted, are liable to turn Israel into a new model of apartheid state, like the despicable one that once reigned in South Africa.
Most of the anger toward Zuabi stems from her participation in the flotilla to the Gaza Strip. But in a properly run country they would have opened an investigation not against her but against the "anonymous individuals" who set up a Facebook group calling for her execution. Moreover, the Israelis must understand that Zuabi took part in the flotilla for breaking the blockade of Gaza because she believes that no law in the world gives an occupier the right, moral or otherwise, to put 1.5 million people in prison because of a soldier captured by the Palestinian resistance forces.
On the flotilla she represented the Palestinians in Israel, not only herself and her party. The Palestinians' Higher Monitoring Committee, the only body that faithfully represents them, chose her to represent more than a million Palestinians in Israel. So the campaign against her is a campaign against all the Palestinians in the Jewish state - hence the danger in it.
Astonishingly, Israel's knights of human rights are not speaking out, which is dangerous for both Israeli and Palestinian society in this country. If you support expelling Zuabi from the Knesset, we are sending you a razor-sharp message: We are all Zuabi.
By Zuheir Andreus
The writer is editor of the Arabic newspaper Ma-Alhadat, published in Tamra in the Lower Galilee.