Israel is “stuck in [a] Jim Crow reality,” MK Ahmed Tibi (UALTa’al) wrote on influential American political news site The Hill last week, drawing criticism from the Right on Monday.
Tibi wrote that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “Knesset enablers” regularly pass discriminatory legislation, comparing it to Jim Crow Laws allowing racial segregation in the southern United States in the years 1876-1965.
“There are, in fact, over 50 laws that already discriminate against us and more are on the way,” Tibi wrote on Wednesday, presenting himself as a “Palestinian citizen of Israel and elected Knesset member.”
Addressing the fact that he is an MK, Tibi said elections do not make a democracy and that Arab lawmakers should not be used as a “fig leaf” to cover up problems with protecting the rights of minorities.
Zionism, Tibi wrote, leaves Israel “stuck in our Jim Crow reality” because “Zionism is about the promotion of one group... and is an ideology at odds with the racial progress made over the past 50 years in countries such as the US.”
The UAL-Ta’al MK wrote that “American politicians who seem thankful America has passed beyond its own Jim Crow era, frequently look the other way at Israel’s internal discrimination,” and that they are rarely critical of Israel’s actions in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Tibi also said the Trayvon Martin case, in which neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted earlier this year of murder and manslaughter after killing Martin, a black youth, last year, is “akin to the Israeli legal system with its rampant discrimination against Palestinians.”
He did not give examples of discriminatory behavior, writing only that for US politicians, “freedom and rights for Palestinians are, at best, an afterthought.”
In response to Tibi’s article, Likud Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov told The Jerusalem Post that the fact the UAL-Ta’al MK could say such things in a foreign blog only proves that Israel is a free, democratic country and contradicts his claims.
“When MK Tibi calls himself a Palestinian citizen of Israel, he is declaring his intention to destroy Israel as the Jewish State,” Ilatov added. “When Tibi writes that he is a Palestinian citizen of Israel, it is not just a random statement; rather it is an ideological declaration, which readers may not necessarily understand.”
Ilatov explained that “Tibi is an Israeli Arab and not a Palestinian. He refuses to accept the fact that the State of Israel is a Jewish and democratic country; therefore he systematically attacks Israel’s strongest point, its democracy.”
According to Ilatov, “Tibi is acting like an enemy of the state and a Jew-hater.”
Likud Beytenu MK Hamad Amer, who is Druse, said “Tibi’s article is an astonishing display of outrageous polemic against the State of Israel, based on lies, half-truths and innuendos.”
“To compare Israel’s vibrant democracy, in which he and all of the Arab-speaking minority fully participate in, with the ‘Jim Crow Laws’ is slander and libel,” Amer added.