A Channel 2 interview with Arab MK Hanin Zoabi is making waves – and it might cost her, again
Hanin Zoabi, the Arab MK of the Balad party, can’t seem to get out of the news. Obviously, this is what she’s aiming for. Every politician loves to see their name in the media.
Just today, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he found “nothing wrong with the Knesset’s decision to revoke some of MK Hanin Zoabi’s privileges” due to her participation in the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza.
She also managed to anger Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who watched her interview on Channel 2 News on Saturday:
Speaking during a meeting of the Yisrael Beiteinu faction and quoted by Channel 10 News, Lieberman responded to Zoabi’s comments and said, “I have not seen so much hatred for the Jewish people and for the people of Israel in a long time.”
“I have never seen such zoological hatred towards the country in which she grew up,” added the Foreign Minister. “She doesn’t have even one good word to say. It’s intolerable.”
And if that’s not enough, a student from Sderot has filed a complaint against her, claiming her words were incitement.
Here’s the interview (my translation):
Only three years ago she entered the Knesset, but it seems there isn’t one Israeli who doesn’t know her
One can’t stay indifferent to her,
she seems to be at the center of every Israeli-Palestinian “storm”,
walking sometimes on the thin line of what is allowed and what isn’t
according to the rules of a democratic country that wants to defend itself.
Even though she does not, of course, represent all of Arab society in Israel,
we met her for a talk in order to understand just how big the differences are,
how much there is still a chance for dialogue between two peoples,
who share one land.
How optimistic did we leave?Here…
You don’t…. don’t do a warm up talk?
You don’t want to get to know your interviewee?
I read…- before?
And you feel you have an impression that you know me, you think?
You know my stances?
I hope so…
What do people usually think of you?
That I’m a terrorist… what, you don’t know that I’m a terrorist?
Instead of crying, the only thing left to do is laugh.
MK Hanin Zoabi would also sadly admit,
that she would easily win the non-existant competition, of the most hated woman in Israel.
It’s only her first time in the Knesset,
But it seems like now, except for the veteran Ahmad Tibi
she is the most recognizable of all the Arab MKs.
“MK Hanin Zoabi…”
She’s everywhere, managing to protest, to upset,
to unnerve the average Israeli spectator.
Demonstrating with the Palestinian flag,
sailing to the Hamas controlled Gaza with the Marmara people,
celebrating the release of terrorists from jail,
scuffling with Knesset ushers,
“You’re using the democracy!”
“If you raise a hand! Take her out immediately!”
Driving right-wing MK’s crazy,
and Israelis in general.
Where are you Zoabi? Where’s the terrorist, where is she?
And for dessert, just last week,
this incident, in Hebron
You bastard terrorist!
They don’t want to marry you because they know what you are, you terrorist!
Die, you bitch!- Traitor!
Every place you go, it turns into a story.
I didn’t inform any journalist,
and after all the fuss, in the end, what was the headline?
On the shoutings on Hanin and that nobody wants to marry her. Nonsense.
OK, but no, they said that I started crying, which is also funny.
It’s not true?
I don’t know, I wasn’t there.
No, it’s not true, not at all.
But is it true that it’s this issue that hurts you the most, that they use the most?
This is what you do when you have no political argument.
But, can I ask you about this?
Are you planning on raising a family?
I never intended not to have a family.
And I also don’t have a project, or aim to have a family.
I’m very spontaneous on these issues.
If it happens, it happens. If not, no, then I didn’t succeed. What can I do?
I also won’t apologize for it.
That was more or less the most personal we could get to the Balad MK.
Almost 43 years old, lives with her parents in Nazareth,
she has degrees in philosophy, psychology and communications
and she is part of the large and esteemed Zoabi clan,
where her uncles came from,
Abed al-Aziz Zoabi, who was Deputy Health Minister,Abed al-Rahman Zoabi, who sat in the Supreme Court,
and Saif a-DIn Zoabi, who was, God forbid,in the Haganah.
Listen to me, don’t listen to the “good Arab” that you created out of fear.
I am now… – Excuse me, this “good Arab” was all these uncles of yours, who was deputy health minister, a warrior in the Haganah,
and you know better than I, your uncles were part of the loathed Zionist institution.
And now is the time when that “oppressed” Palestinian
lifts his head up and says to you: “Enough!”
Zoabi learned this doctrine from Balad founder, former MK Azmi Bishara.
How is Azmi Bishara?- OK, OK.
Why did he run away?
He didn’t run away.- He’s just not coming back.
Look, after the second Lebanon war, Israel looked for a victim, a scapegoat.
That was Azmi Bishara.
Bishara, if there’s any need to remind anyone,
escaped trial in Israel after being accused of spying for Hizballah.
Today he’s in Qatar,
an interviewee in high demand on Arab TV stations
where he also supported in the past for Assad.
But his main specialty is
For you, the vision is a bi-national state?
Both of them states of all their citizens.
But over there, will there be a Hebrew-Arabic national anthem?
Where?- There, in the Palestinian state.
No, that will be a Palestinian state.
There will be a Palestinian state… with an Arab anthem.- Because the occupation… yes, in Arabic. A Palestinian anthem.
And here, a state of all its citizens. Full equality.
What do you mean a “Jewish state”? The land is for Jews,
the resources are for Jews,
the Law of Return is for Jews,
It’s all for Jews!- So, we need to allow the right of return?
Even… yes. Even the education law is for Jews,
So, the Law of Return – no, but the right or return – yes?
The right of return because you exiled a people from here.
So, the Palestinians will have a state and a half, and the Jews will have half a state, is what you’re saying.
Why half a state? You… – Because you’re saying I have no right to define myself, that’s what you’re saying.
No, you do have a right.
The Palestinians have a right for self determinationand the Jews don’t.
You have the right to self determination, but not on my expense.
I am here, I am situated here, you will recognize the fact that this is my homeland.
This is my homeland, and I am struggling…- And there are those who don’t recognize that it’s your homeland?
Yes, yes. When they call it the Land of Israel,
and when the Education Minister plans school trips to Hebron
because of the Jewish heritage…- Can you understand the Jewish heritage in Hebron?
No, no, no, no, but here the state- But there is Jewish heritage in Hebron.
Yes. There is Jewish heritage in Hebron.
The discussion with Zoabi will be difficult even for left-wing Zionists.
This is how President Shimon Peres was accepted in Nazareth this week
with protests from Balad Youth.
According to them, even Peres, the man of peace, is a war criminal,
because of the firing on Qana in Lebanon in 1996.
Peres is the biggest of scoundrels!Peres is the biggest of scoundrels!
Every people can live in peace,
but a people can not live in peace when it is an occuppier.
You are not allowed to live in security. An occupying people has no right for a normal life. It has no right.
Is there a situation where,
you can say the IDF is allowed to act and attack?
After reconciliation, when the IDF is at the borders, inside our borders, he didn’t invade, he isn’t occupying,
and someone…- He isn’t occupying in Gaza.
No, this is occupation. It is control.
The Hamas is there with a semi- anti-semitic charter… that calls to kill Jews…
The Hamas… there is nothing that justifies the occupation.
But also the Hamas, and I’m not speaking here in their name,
That says that Jihad is the only way, that doesn’t recognize the state…
I didn’t hear Hamas say this…- It’s written in the charter.
And what is written in the racist laws of Israel?- That Arabs must be killed?
The society in Israel does not want peace, trust me.- And the Palestinians want peace? The Hamas wants peace?
Yes. Do you know why?- Hamas wants peace?
The Hamas? Yes, it wants peace.
The problem is, Danny, Danny,- When you pledged in the Knesset and you said,
“I pledge allegiance to the state of Israel”, did you have a problem with this wording?
I didn’t think about it.
I mean, i didn’t think. It was something automatic.
You’re letting yourself off easily, and you are there, getting a salary from this institution,and you see the star of David there
Do you know how much my salary is a fraction compared to the lands you have taken from my family?
Just don’t make it look Hanin like you’re making me coffee, it’s terrible.
You are my guests.
No, it perpetuates all the stereotypes, you know…
Women-men, Arabs-Jews…Wait, let me, I’ll do it…
You put it on the table.
Exactly, so people won’t talk.
So I’m… No! Not yet!- Ah, no?
Put it on the table.
But in the end you’re telling me what to do.
Yeah, I’ll tell you what to do, sure.
It seems at times the fear from Zoabi is what feeds the extreme right,
the right, which in an almost absurd fashion, feeds the supporters of the extremists on the other side, those who support Zoabi.
The Jews go right,
the Arabs, or at least their representatives in the Knesset,
are going to something which is beyond the left, something that wishes to change the state its fundamentals,
it’s symbols, maybe even its name.
The questions is how much stances such as these foster dialogue,
help to improve the neglected status of the Arabs in Israel.
Do you have anything good to say about the state?
One thing?- No. Nothing.
Something?- Nothing, I have nothing.
Good health services…- but better than…
A higher education rate, one good thing…
Danny, you benefit from the technology of Israel, I don’t benefit!
I don’t have occupational centers, I don’t have the occupational services,
this whole argument in the Knesset
I live in a different country than yours.
Not that you want a country, there are already two states here.
Meanwhile Zoabi is turning into somewhat of an icon.
Almost surprisingly, there are those who think
that it can be funny.
When Hanin will come, when Hanin will come…
When Hanin will come, we promise to give back Jaffa –
but just the way we got it.
We really promise to behave well and to listen patiently,
and to give her a fair platform for her to speak her antisemitic propoganda. Really!
Do you think it’s funny? Do you laugh?
I laugh, but I also…
it also hurts me.- Because?
Because once again they are distorting me, I’m enough…
Go there, and confront him! Tell him what you think!
I don’t, I have no sense of humor.
Ah, thank you.
But is this Arab falafel of Israeli?- No, real Arab. – Real Arab.
The argument with Zoabi will continue.
It’s really not that funny.
Just like our reality.
Here, in the borders of 1967, 1948,
or in the Middle East in general.
Yes… later we will post this item on our Facebook page.
Danny Kushmaro, the Saturday news anchor, is a decent enough guy. But some of his questions are very indicative of the old discourse. It could be he was playing the devil’s advocate, I’m not sure.
As for Zoabi, I have to give her credit for having the guts to tell it like it is without fear. But there were some instances where she hurt me, too.
One example, was her reaction to Kushmaro saying there is Jewish heritage in Hebron. Now, I don’t care who’s buried in that tomb – I could care less about 4,000 year old bones. But both Zoabi and I know there are a lot of Jews who DO care, and just brushing it off like that is insulting to them. In fact, I’m not sure if she was just brushing it off, maybe saying that there isn’t any Jewish heritage there at all, or maybe she was just trying to belittle it. Either way, it doesn’t come off well.
Another example was what all the papers caught on to. That “Israel has no right to live in security while it is an occupier”. Now, most of you know my opinions on the occupation – but here, Zoabi hurt me as well. Her choice of words – and indeed one would expect on such a sensitive issue to chose carefully – could have been better. Or different.
Because she’s stereotyping. She’s doing exactly what she preaches against. She’s saying that all Israelis must live in fear and danger for their lives. And in a way, it could be interpreted as a call for violence. I’m sorry, but I don’t see why my children should live without security. Just as I don’t see why children in Nabi Saleh should live without security.
Of course, the problem is – the children in Nabi Saleh have no security right now. My children, while they don’t have 100% protection from everything the Mideast has to offer, certainly have more than their Palestinian friends (inshallah, one day they’ll be friends).
But this isn’t a game of Even Stephen.
While on many points Zoabi is correct, I find it hard to see her as someone who will be able to bridge gaps.
And maybe she doesn’t want to. Let’s face it, where has the bridge-gapping got the Palestinians so far? Nothing. Just like the suicide bombers got them nothing. Nothing but 45 years of occupation.
Which is where Kushmaro got it right: Both the Israelis and Palestinians, despite living in a relatively less violent era since Cast Lead, are becoming more exclusive, more nationalistic.
Can’t say I’m surprised. That’s what happens with a blatant lack of leadership, both here in the Mideast, and across the pond.