After a year in which the government incited against Arab society and the media pandered to the Right’s agenda, the attempt to expel Joint List MK Basel Ghattas points to a worrying future.
By Abed Abu Shehada
When the Knesset passed the so-called “expulsion law” last summer, widely seen as targeting Arab lawmakers, many believed it didn’t matter, because no vote on expelling a member of the Knesset would reach the two-thirds majority (90 MKs) needed. They also said it was the media’s role to be objective and to cover the news reliably, so as not to become a tool in the hands of the government against its opponents.
But in the past few days, the exact opposite has happened: the media has mobilized and created a wall-to-wall consensus along with lawmakers from the Left and Right, who are working to expel Joint List MK Basel Ghattas — accused of smuggling cell phones to Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails — from the Knesset. On Wednesday, the Knesset House Committee voted to strip Ghattas of his parliamentary immunity. They are setting an example for the rest of the Arab Knesset members — that if they don’t toe the line, they too will be out.
The suspicions against Ghattas, who is a member of the Balad faction in the Joint List, first came to light on Sunday, when the police and Israel Prison Service (IPS) announced that they suspected him of passing cellphones and slips of paper to political prisoners. Ynet reported that Ghattas was “already being followed when he arrived at the prison” because the IPS’ intelligence unit had been tipped off that he was planning to smuggle phones to security prisoners. The next day, it was claimed that Ghattas had already gone underground and heavy hints were dropped about his family ties to former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel after being accused of espionage and passing information to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
In one article after another journalists are forgetting to note that they’ve received false reports, such as that of Ghattas fleeing, rather than appearing for questioning as he was ordered to. Or they suggest that they have already figured out what is happening inside the party, despite the party itself not yet knowing.
Most bizarre of all is that no one cares that Ghattas never...Read More