MK Bassel Ghattas.
(photo credit: KNESSET CHANNEL)
Joint List MK Basel Ghattas could hardly contain his apparent glee at former president and prime minister Shimon Peres’ maladies, posting a Facebook status describing Peres as a bloodthirsty criminal Wednesday as Peres was in an induced coma following a stroke, and sparking outrage across the political spectrum.
Ghattas wrote that Peres should be remembered for his “tyrannical character” and for being “responsible for war crimes against us,” with “us” apparently referring to Palestinians.
“Is this the end of Peres? You never know, he’s a man with seven lives,” Ghattas wrote. “Peres was one of the strongest pillars of the Zionist colonial settlement enterprise, one of the most ruthless and extreme and harmful to the Palestinian nation.”
Ghattas said that without “our direct or indirect help,” Peres would not have received a Nobel Peace Prize.
“Peres is covered in our blood from head to toe. We are not rushing to participate and contribute to the tribe’s collective festival of grief and loss,” he concluded.
Ghattas is a member of the Balad party within the Joint List, which was founded by former MK Azmi Bishara, who fled the country under suspicion of giving information to Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Ghattas has participated in an illegal flotilla to Gaza, and last month called for boycotts and sanctions of Israel at a radical left-wing conference in Montreal, which lost Canadian government partnership because of antisemitic content.
MKs across the political spectrum took umbrage with Ghattas’ message.
MK Itzik Shmuly (Zionist Union) called Ghattas “a small and pathetic man whose entire contribution to politics is sowing hatred and strife between people, supporting terrorism and cheap provocations for self-promotion. He isn’t even worthy of saying Peres’ name.”
Labor Secretary-General MK Hilik Bar called Ghattas’ Facebook post “disgusting…as well as false and full of incitement.”
“I condemn the hypocritical words of Ghattas, and think they are shameful, certainly when they come from someone who hasn’t contributed one one-thousandth of what Peres has done to improve the delicate fabric of life for Jews and Arabs in Israeli society, and for coexistence and peace between us and the Palestinians,” Bar added.
Meretz MK Essawi Frej accused Ghattas of trying to be controversial in order to get attention.
“His words are inappropriate coming from someone who claims to want to help Arab society in Israel. MK Ghattas wants to put another obstacle to relations between Arabs and Jews. Whoever doesn’t have what to contribute [in that area] should be quiet instead of getting in the way,” he stated.
Frej added that Ghattas’ opinion is that of “a minority in the minority of Israeli Arabs,” most of whom wish Peres well and recognize him as someone who dedicated his life to peace and strengthening coexistence.
On the Right, Likud MK Amir Ohana said that even though his political camp often disagreed with Peres, certainly about the Oslo Accords, it wishes him a speedy recovery, good health and a long life as someone who always wanted what’s good for Israel.
“Ghattas,” Ohana said, “gets his instructions from his fugitive spy cousin Azmi Bishara and went out of his way to show Israelis that for some Arabs, it doesn’t matter if you’re right- or left-wing, support concessions or not, as long as you support the Jews’ right to their own state, you are the enemy…[Ghattas], along with his faction-mate MK Haneen Zoabi (Joint List) are the enemy.”
MK Oded Forrer (Yisrael Beytenu) said of Ghattas: “The words coming out of the mouth of one of the most dangerous MKs in Israel are words of provocation and hatred of the lowest kind. His words at this time, when we are all praying for the 9th president Shimon Peres’ wellbeing is a black flag above the MKs who continue to back this inciting, racist and terror-supporting man.”