The Knesset Ethics Committee reprimanded MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al)
on Monday for giving a speech in which he praised Palestinian
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said the committee’s punishment was not
strong enough, and that Tibi should be put in prison.
“There is no
greater source of praise” than martyrdom, Tibi is shown saying, in a video shot
at a Palestinian Authority event honoring Palestinian “martyrs” that was
released by NGO Palestinian Media Watch in January.
While the word
“shaheed,” martyr in Arabic, means to die in the name of God, in the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict it has come to be associated with suicide bombers
and terrorists who are killed while attacking Israel.
Tibi, who is
currently in the UK, wrote to the Ethics Committee that he gave the speech over
a year ago, and that the video was edited to make him look bad.
Israeli media, the word shaheed is used to mean a terrorist,” he said.
martyr is not a terrorist, but a victim who died for his land. That is who I
He also sent the committee a video of a speech at a more recent
PA event, where he said that “Israeli ignorance connects martyrdom to
terrorism.” Tibi added that he has always spoken out against attacks on
The Ethics Committee said that it is understandable that
Israelis would think that Tibi is speaking out in praise of terrorism; however,
in light of Tibi’s explanation and the second video, the committee understands
that the word martyr has a different meaning for Palestinians.
same time, the committee said that in the future, it will not accept his “taking
advantage” of words’ double meanings to “express himself severely and
Danon slammed the Ethics Committee decision.
who praises murderers and encourages terrorists should be suspended from the
Knesset, put on trial for his extremist incitement and then put behind bars,”
Only reprimanding Tibi legitimizes his behavior and that of
others who hate Israel, the Likud MK added.
Tibi’s spokesman said that
the Ethics Committee is a political, right-wing body that harasses him and all
other Arab lawmakers. He called the decision biased, and rooted in ignorance of
Arab language and culture.