Arab MPs in Israel’s Knesset suffer incitement and hate

Three Arab members of Israel’s Knesset say they face increased hostility from politicians, including ministers.

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Knesset member Haneen Zoabi said Israeli politicians, including Netanyahu, had incited anger against her [EPA]

Arab members of the Israeli Knesset have told Al Jazeera that right-wing politicians, including members of the government, are inciting violence and death threats against them because of their efforts to speak out against the government policies in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

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Arab members of the Knesset said on Friday that they had been blamed for the recent tensions between Palestinians and Israelis, which have resulted in the death of at least 52 Palestinians and eight Israelis.

Ahmad Tibi an Arab member of the Knesset from the Joint List, which won 13 seats in the latest elections, told Al Jazeera that the Israeli government is fomenting an atmosphere of hate and racism against Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians.

“The Israeli government is not doing anything to prevent this from happening because it is the one who leads the campaign to dehumanise us. The government is the problem, not the solution,” Tibi said.

On Wednesday and during a Knesset session chaired by Tibi, Israeli Minister Zeev Elkin spoke against Tibi from the podium accusing him of being responsible for the bloodshed in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

“You are responsible for the blood that has been shed in the country, and you should not sleep at night for that,” the Ukraine-born Elkin yelled at Tibi.

A video posted on YouTube shows Tibi, who is the deputy chairman of the Knesset, expelling Elkin from the chamber.

Serious threat

The minister, who immigrated to Israel in 1990, carries two portfolios in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government as immigration minister and the minister for Jerusalem, the focal point of the recent unrest. 

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“This is a serious threat and a death threat against me,” Tibi told Al Jazeera from his office in Jerusalem.

Al Jazeera made several phone calls to reach Elkin on the number listed on his official Knesset web page, but no one answered before the time of publication.

Haneen Zoabi, another Arab member of the Knesset, told Al Jazeera that she too has been the subject of incitement not only from right-wing Israeli politicians and settlers, but also from Netanyahu personally.

She told Al Jazeera that Netanyahu had singled her out in his recent speeches in the Knesset and targeted her for investigation for alleged incitement against the State of Israel.

Zoabi said that Netanyahu’s allegations are totally baseless.

“It is he who is spreading racism and hatred in the country with his extremist policies against the Palestinians.

“All I am doing is urging my community to stand up to Israeli racism within the framework of the law,” Zoabi said, adding that she was working in accordance with international law.

Incitement in media

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Jamal Zahalka another member of the Knesset told Al Jazeera that he had received thousands of death threats and messages on his phone from the extremists, who he said were incited by the government and the Israeli media.

“The wave of anti-Arab hatred and incitement is unprecedented even by Israeli standards,” he said. 

Zahalka blamed Netanyahu personally for the charged atmosphere gripping both Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“Netanyahu cannot live and build a career without constructing a fictional enemy or a boogeyman to cow the Israeli society into accepting his twisted rhetoric and racist policies.”

Al Jazeera called the spokesman for the Israeli prime minister’s office, David Baker, who declined to comment on the claims made by the politicians.

Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @ClearAliYounes

Source: Al Jazeera


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