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WATCH Hanin Zoabi: Israel has no right to live in security

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):


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.

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    1. Sinjim

      I think you meant “exclusive” in the second-to-last paragraph.
      Regarding the interview, it was more of a combative debate. The “journalist” was arguing with her and cutting her off, not letting her finish her points. That’s hardly conducive to creating an atmosphere where Zoubi wouldn’t be combative as well.
      But to kind of go along with the point you make at the end, watching the clip gives me a feeling of Schadenfreude. I enjoy, on a very base level, the fact that she’s throwing back the sentiments that Israeli leaders have used against us and in Hebrew as well! I know it’s not very mature, but in that moment, it’s very satisfying to see Israelis feel an ounce of what we feel.

      Reply to Comment
    2. @sinjim – I like “exclusive” better, thanks! 🙂
      As for the interview – that’s standard Israeli interviewing procedure. There are much worse than Kushmaro.
      And as for your last point – Schadenfreude isn’t always that helpful. But, I hear ya…

      Reply to Comment
    3. Rain

      I agree with you. I think she’s a clown a gift to the hardliners in Israel. I wouldn’t be surprised if right-wing MKs want her to stay on and continue to make herself look like an idiot because she scares the Israeli public better of the Palestinians than Lieberman and co could ever do on their own.
      So in this way, she’s a gift from heaven that keeps on giving. You’re absolutely right that you don’t think that your children should live without safety, what an idiotic suggestion. The point is that both sides should live in dignity – and safety – and Zoabi is against peace and safety. She’s their Lieberman, only with boobs which makes people relax a bit too much than they should.(Yeah, you read that last bit right. That’s exactly what’s going on. She gets a lot of flack because people expect women to be softer so she begins with a natural advantage).

      Reply to Comment
    4. Jazzy

      The kind of quivering, always-ready-to-give-the-benefit-of-the-doubt response to Zoabi (illustrated here), demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of the hard line Arab-Israeli position. Its a bitter, uncompromising, irredentist nationalism guys – stop projecting your own niceties onto people who have no desire to be reasonable in return.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Ami, the title to the post doesn’t capture the tenor of the interview. Sure you can isolate certain statements, but without allowing a follow-up, I’m not sure you can make too much out of them. Anyway, a fascinating interview. Thanks for posting.

      Reply to Comment
    6. @jazzy – yawn…
      @zahav – you’re welcome. what title would you have given?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Piotr Berman

      What is astounding is not that “Zoabi is most hated” but

      (a) how much is she hated

      Who is being revealed here? The hated one or the haters? Did Zoabi said anything as inflamatory as basically every other sentence of Avigdor Lieberman?

      (b) how long is the list of “also hated”, Mohammad Bakri, Raleb Majdele, Naomi Chazan, Norway, … I am afraid that Ami Kaufman made the list too.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bill Pearlman

      In any other country she would be in person for treason.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Bill Pearlman


      Reply to Comment
    10. Danny

      While Zoabi is extreme in her views, one can readily understand where her extremism comes from:
      – the Nakba, during which most of her people were ethnically cleansed by Israel
      – a 20 year martial rule during which Israeli Arabs couldn’t leave their villages in Israel proper without getting an authorization from their military governor
      – a seperate set of exclusionary rules and regulations for Israeli Arabs, under which they cannot even marry whomever they wish, while Jews can
      – and of course, the monsterous 45-year occupation of the Palestinians that doesn’t seem like it will end any time soon
      I have to say that I agree with Zoabi that Israel does not deserve to have peace and security until the Palestinians also have peace and security. It is a fundamental sense of equity that seems to elude most Israeli Jews for some reason. And the racist hypocrite Lieberman can shove his sanctimonious self-righteousness where the sun don’t shine.

      Reply to Comment
    11. aristeides

      In no other country would Zoabi be persecuted.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Klang

      How is she different from you, except for having more hair?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Ami,
      re: your question to Zahav

      What Zoabi said:
      “All people have the right to live in peace.
      People who are occupiers do not have the right to live in peace”

      How does that translate to “Hanin Zoabi: Israel has no right to live in security” of your title?
      At the least its a misquotation. One can assume Ami does not distinguish the state of Israel from the Jewish-Israeli people living in Israel. Nu shoin.
      At worst, its a deliberate mischaracterization of her words. Zoabi says all people deserve peace – a categorical. Therefore those denying peace to others (occupiers) do not deserve peace themselves, by virtue of denying this right to others. A moral stance.
      ie. A people’s right to peace is subsequent to ending their occupation of another people.
      Not even close to the categorical misquote “Israel has no right to peace” of your title.

      Reply to Comment
    14. As for this:
      “maybe saying that there isn’t any Jewish heritage there at all, or maybe she was just trying to belittle it.”
      She was asked if there are those that don’t recognize this being her homeland. She then gives the example of “the education minister plans school trips to Hebron BECAUSE of the Jewish heritage” [emphasis mine] and then “Yes, there is Jewish heritage in Hebron”
      There is no denial.
      There is also no belittling. There’s an attempt to show how the state denies her her right to her homeland. You know, what the lead-in question was about…
      Danny Kushmaru, the “decent enough guy” is playing journalistic gotcha for the video editors. I’d expect 972 to catch these things, not propagate them.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Ami, the title to the post connotes something extreme about Zoabi, that she is or views Jews as the other. Yet, my sense of the interview, was the opposite. That she is not the other, nor does she view Jews as the other. Zoabi personifies one of the many paradoxes of Israel or maybe lifts the curtain to some degree, even on herself. The interview reveals something absurd about the conflict. Title? No idea. But hey, blogging ain’t as easy as it looks.

      Reply to Comment
    16. XYZ

      While Lieberman is extreme in his views, on can readily come to understand where his extremism comes from

      Arab terror-long predating the creation of the state of Israel.

      The Holocaust-a searing memory for all Jews and which many Arabs and Muslims supported. Hitler’s Mein Kampf is still a best seller in the Arab world.

      Antisemitism-a long history of it in Europe and the Arab/Muslim world makes Jews alert to threats against them from people like Zoabi.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ayoosha

      XYZ – that is the most retarded thing i haver ever seen anyone write… wow. just wow.

      Reply to Comment
    18. @arnon – actually, she says “lo mutar lecha lihiyot bebitachon” – which, if you knew Hebrew, you would understand my title is a very correct translation. So, arnon, before you continue to spew your idiotic comments on my channel, I urge you to learn the language a bit, and get off your high horse.
      “one can assume that Arnon has no clue what he’s talking about”.
      As you will see, I allow comments on my channel that are of constructive critique. I don’t approve comments that are condescending, personal, and outright wrong.
      First strike. And don’t try me.

      Reply to Comment
    19. @piotr – could you elaborate please on what list I have entered?
      Just wanted to make sure it’s not an ad hominem attack on me, which I don’t exactly see why I deserve, and which will also get you banned from this site.
      But, of course, if you manage to explain it otherwise, we’re cool. :).
      Awaiting your response.

      Reply to Comment
    20. @arnon – and re: your “analysis” of the Hebron question, I totally disagree.

      Reply to Comment
    21. sh

      To draw conclusions of any sort from an interview of this calibre is useless. The thing is chopped up bits of footage and whoever chopped it up had a message that was not aimed at showing Zoabi to advantage. She must have known it would end up that way and shrugged. Fun to see, if only to show the level of discourse on our TV screens, why some of us stopped watching.

      Reply to Comment
    22. @sh – While I am in full agreement with you that this is not “60 Minutes” material, I wouldn’t shrug it off so easily. The choices that Channel 2 made, in the way it decided to tackle this story, are in themselves very telling. Sometimes we learn more about people not only from what they do, but what they don’t, right?

      Reply to Comment
    23. Philos

      Zoabi is paraphrasing Benjamin Franklin: “A society that would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security.”

      Reply to Comment
    24. annie

      ““Israel has no right to live in security while it is an occupier”…”She’s saying that all Israelis must live in fear and danger for their lives.” no, what she is saying is that while millions of palestinians must live in fear and danger for their lives israel has no right to live in security. and i agree with her. tell me this, if the law was such that palestinian soldiers had a right to enter your home in the middle of the night, line your family up and take photos of them, demand your id, and take your children away in the middle of the night to interrogate them, if that was the law…explain to me why palestinians should have this right to live in security? you cannot grab one half of the sentence without the other. “while it is an occupier” is a qualifying concept. allegedly, the occupation exists for israel’s security, it has no right to this security at the price it is extracting from another people, based on their ethnicity.

      Reply to Comment
    25. @annie – wow, it’s like you only read halfway through the post. good job.

      Reply to Comment
    26. annie

      i thought it was a fantastic interview and thank you very much for the translation. it really demonstrated the differences between two points of view.

      Reply to Comment
    27. hey Ami…!.In my understanding,the sad moment when Kushmaro asked her what she feeled when she
      commited to the israeli laws im time to sword for the Knesset and her answer was that she did not think about it…nothing else to proved, or to be said, she was after the political status not matter what.After that anything goes…arieh

      Reply to Comment
    28. Ami:
      OK, I’ll try.

      Even the quote you gave “You’re not allowed to live in peace” (ie. the interviewer), said right after “An occupying people does not have the right to live in peace” said right after “All people have the right to live in peace” – still does not translate to “Israel has no right to live in security”
      Israel being a state that includes BOTH people.
      Zoabi’s statements were in reference to the rights of ONE people living in that state as opposed to the OTHER people living in the same state. Nothing was said of ISRAEL’s right to live in security. The latter is a question of borders and sovereignty, not of people’s right to live in peace.

      Israelis have this sense of not distinguishing their state (its institutions and borders and whatnot) and the Israeli(-Jewish) people living in that state. That’s the sense I get from living here for 30+ years (still learning the language though…thank you)

      So this one (ie. me) STILL assumes you don’t distinguish the two – Israel (a state) and Israelis (a people). You’ve not written anything that would indicate otherwise.

      This has not been a personal attack. It has been a critical deconstruction of the language used.
      As for condescension, that is in the eyes of the beholder. There is little I can do about your sense of condescension but this is how I communicate critiques. Bluntly.
      The title is still a misquote. I make no claims of it being deliberate or otherwise. Assumptions were qualified as such.

      My comment IS a critique. But it’s only constructive in as much as you are able or willing to learn from it. That’s your business, not mine.
      I am responsible only for my words, not for what you understand.

      Reply to Comment
    29. annie

      no, i read it all and i heard you say you didn’t think children in Nabi Saleh should live without security. i was trying to frame it for you because when you said “She’s saying” that all Israelis must live in fear and danger for their lives i realized you were not understanding her words. no one has the ‘right’ to collectively punish others for their own security. i do not believe israelis have a ‘right’ to security at the expense of innocent people. that is how i read the quote. you chose to a title for the article sans by the context from the sentence, that’s all.

      Reply to Comment
    30. @arnon – I still disagree with your analysis and translation. Yet I have to agree that your tone is much more polite in this last comment, and I can not understand why you used a much more aggressive one earlier. Thanks for the change. At least that.

      Reply to Comment
    31. @annie – I chose a title which is what she said. Context is what the post is for. The title does not distort her words.

      Reply to Comment
    32. annie

      i meant to say ‘you chose to a title for the article by stripping the context from the sentence’. i’m sorry if i sound accusatory, that is not my intent. i think it was an honest misinterpretation on your part.

      Reply to Comment
    33. @annie – well, i guess we’ll just have to disagree. That’s my title, it’s a good one, and I’m stickin’ with it 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    34. annie

      it is catchy, i’ll give ya that 😉

      Reply to Comment
    35. very interesting interview Ami. thanks for posting.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Piotr Berman

      “While Lieberman is extreme in his views, on can readily come to understand where his extremism comes from”

      Lieberman’s extremism comes from the fact that he was and is a thug. Didn’t he have a conviction for beating up Arabs with a bicycle chain during his student years.

      On the topic of safety: what are the chances that someone will assassinate Zoabi? Hate is more plentiful in Israel than cottage cheese.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Piotr Berman

      I have slight difficulties finding link to youthful exploits of Avigdor Lieberman. I got this one now:

      Perhaps he was just beating up leftists without making “racist” distinctions. Well, exuberance of youth, although I wonder if the public would be equally forging to Zoabi if she had such incidents in her past. It is harder to explain away genocidal rhetoric in which Lieberman engaged in the past, like drowning Arabs in Dead Sea or bombing Asuan Dam.

      I think that bombing of Asuan Dam would achieve precisely nothing because it is made of rock, not concrete, to withstand earthquakes, but were it possible to destroy it by bombs, it would create a wave drowning hundreds of thousands. Then he becomes Foreign Minister who is supposed to deal with Egypt. And the largest problem if Haneed Zoabi. THE extremist that mars Israel’s most hallowed deliberative body.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Piotr Berman

      There was a question why I think that Ami is on a “list of hated people” (hated by people exhibiting healthy patriotic thinking). By the virtue of being a writer of 972mag Ami is associated with Radical Left. If you read website of Arutz Sheva, it seems that everybody who is at least semi-decent is a member of Radical Left, so such categorization does not ipso-facto make someone object of hate. However this item suggests a less friendly interpretation:


      Reply to Comment
    39. Piotr Berman

      I am sorry, just thinking about A. L. is very deleterious for my spelling and grammar. I suspect that the idea that someone MANEGED to make A. L. angry was a joke.

      More philosophically, are there a profound differences between

      a. “Israel has no right to live in security while it is an occupier”

      b. “Israel has no right to live in security”

      c. “Occupier has no right to live in security”.

      If “occupier” is an inherent characteristic of “Israel” then there is no difference. Otherwise I see quite profound difference. After all, what constitutes security of an occupier? Full control of the occupied. It is a zero-sum game with a very small sum. Zoabi is an attacker just by “witnessing” and “being aware”. A terrorist just by speaking. “Existential threat” just by existing (even without babies!?).

      An occupier does not need nuclear bombs to live in fear. A petite weaponless woman is enough.

      Reply to Comment
    40. aristeides

      Piotr – strictly logically, there can be no difference at all as long as we accept the premise -which seems pretty evident- that Israel is an occupier. I mean, it’s syllogistic. The conclusion can’t be false if the premises are.

      Reply to Comment
    41. @zahav – Terrible headline. Really 🙂

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    42. delia ruhe

      But with all due respect for your hurt feeling, she is quite correct to say that under the present conditions Israel has no “right to security” — certainly no right to expect it. Because under international law, the Palestinians have a right to resist occupation, and that right can come into conflict and even override Israel’s right to security. If Israel wants to claim its right to security it must end the occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    43. sh

      @Ami – “The choices that Channel 2 made, in the way it decided to tackle this story, are in themselves very telling.”
      Zoabi is not only “the enemy” but also a woman and on those grounds alone, has endured insults and belittlement of a personal nature from her Knesset colleagues that dwarf in stupidity anything that she has said or could possibly say in an interview with a TV airhead that she knows is going to be crafted and delivered as the usual package in a new wrapping. Being single and intelligent isn’t easy in any of the societies around here and she’s probably got her share of callouses by now. She knows Israeli Jews – who have been nurtured on the junk food the interviewer is repackaging and no longer know how to think critically – better than they know themselves; she plays them like a virtuoso. Personally, I think we should be more concerned over the epidemic cultural dumbing down (exemplified in that Channel 2 interview) that has been addling our brains over the years, than anything either Zoabi or Kushmaro said in that interview.

      Reply to Comment
    44. Piotr Berman

      Aresteides: how can we progress toward peace if even more enlightened commenters know nothing about Kripke models?

      Semantics of modalities of logical statement require that we have some system of “possible worlds”. If we have “one world”, either Israel has security or it does not, and the notion of “right to” makes no sense.

      The notion of “security” refers to possible futures and present actions that may alter the probability of “insecure” outcomes. As a bicyclist, do I have a right to pro-actively destroy cars that could lethally collide with me some time in the future? Perhaps I should have a right to non-lethal pro-active measures, say, blowing up gas stations — with less gasoline to buy there will be less car traffic and less danger.

      States can make more decisive actions in the name of security than individual bicyclists. A war leading to the closure of Hormuz and explosion in oil prices can decrease car traffic much more efficiently then blowing up a few gas stations. As a bicyclist, can I demand that my government (in Washington, DC) will proceed with this plan in the name of my safety. Mind you, there can also be Mrs. Bicyclist and a gaggle of adorable tiny bicycles. Let us face it: bicyclists in USA for a tiny minority. If we want a war, we should better infiltrate some more popular organization, say, AIPAC and pretend that our real concern is Islamofascism.

      Of course, most bicyclists are rather peaceful. Only once I read about a bicyclist who collided with a car in Baltimore, got really irate, pulled a gun and shot the driver. As a member of barely tolerated minority he got railroaded by the justice system (i.e. got a normal sentence for attempted homicide).

      Several years later a helicopter collided with a ship, the helicopter crew got really irate, pulled guns and killed 9 ship passengers, and wounded many more. The killers were hailed as heroes who defended safety, their own and all their compatriots. Passengers were terrorists. One of them was Haneen. Israel’s right to safety includes the right to kill Haneen Zoabi.

      The safety of Israel has some facets that make Haneen Zoabi appreciate it less than Ami Kaufman. Similarly, 4000 years of Jewish heritage in Hebron has some facets (heckling Haneen Zoabi as a terrorist and a whore) that make Haneen Zoabi appreciate it less than Danny Kushmaro.

      Reply to Comment
    45. @sh – i hear you, but – I think that when it comes to the dumbing down culture, a disease not unique to Israel, we may have lost that war 🙂
      question: you say Zoabi knew full well she would be manipulated here, knowing Channel 2 would make this kind of interview. Did she make a mistake? I’m trying to understand if you’re reprimanding her for her simple agreement to be interviewed by Kushamro.

      Reply to Comment
    46. sh

      Ami, I think if she wanted to be understood by Jewish Israelis, she made a mistake. If she wanted to be understood by Israeli-Palestinians, as their elected Knesset representative, and by Palestinians in the OT, for whom she put her money where her mouth was, she did the right thing. Reverse that for Kushmaro, the technique is the same even though he is not an elected representative. The level of discussion on both sides was of polarization, not education.
      There’s no reason why we should accept defeat in the battle to broaden the public’s mind rather than brainwashing it. At least not on national broadcasting services. Reporters adding their own little codas – even if they are witty – to a story to be sure we understand what we’re supposed to think about it remove any pretense of impartiality. And although it wasn’t always that way, people now no longer notice, think it’s part of the show.

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    47. Passerby

      Comment deleted

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    48. Piotr Berman

      I think that given extreme polarization of views, interview was OK. Huge majority of the viewers would not change the opinion if either

      a. Zoabi exhaled fire, fry the journalist and ate him as a snack to the coffee that she prepared. Note that Lieberman comments would merely be more consistent with the events during interview.

      b. Zoabi made a lyrical pean to the beauty of “our common country” and made Rodney King plea “can’t we just get along?”

      We often do not appreciate how the same phrase has a totally different meaning or emotional connotation to different people. Few are as charged as “security”. “Committee for State Security” has different acronyms in different languages, like KGB or Stasi.

      Right to security may be understood as the right to act in the name of security. For example, if Zoabi emulated the example of PM, she would request that Kushmaro be strip searched before talking with her. (Security detail of PM is apparently alert to the possibility of “booby trapped” female reporters.)

      Reply to Comment
    49. aristeides

      Piotr – you’re going way beyond my simple propositional comment, which was only meant to assert the premise that Israel is the occupier and that the statements are equivalent.

      If you introduce the world in which Israel is not an occupier, that’s a different universe indeed.

      Reply to Comment
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