Lapid apologizes for calling Arab MKs 'Zoabis'

Yesh Atid leader hopes for open dialogue, cooperation with Arab MKs; Zoabi: I'm proud to be the "bad Arab" to racists.

February 7, 2013 15:39
1 minute read.
ARAB MKS Haneen Zoabi,  Afo Agbaria and Taleb a-Sanaa

Arab MKs 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid apologized to MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) on Wednesday night for using the term “Zoabis” to describe Arab lawmakers.

“It wasn’t the right expression to use, and I did not mean to make a generalization about all Arabs,” Lapid explained, according to Tibi.

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Shortly after election results were released last month, the Yesh Atid chairman said he did not plan to form a Center-Left bloc to stop Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from serving another term, and he did not want to rely on “Zoabis” – a reference to Balad MK Haneen Zoabi, who participated in the 2010 Gaza flotilla aboard the Mavi Marmara.

However, as sources in coalition talks have said that if Netanyahu must choose one or the other, he prefers haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties in the coalition over Yesh Atid, Lapid seems to be mending fences in the opposition he may end up leading.

Lapid told Tibi on the phone that he was concerned about and attentive to the troubles of the Israeli Arab population.

However, he added that he had a problem with Zoabi specifically.

“The expression you used is problematic, and I suggest that you do not reject any Arab MK,” Tibi responded.

“I have a problem with Zoabi just like I have a problem with [former National Union MK] Michael Ben-Ari,” Lapid explained, to which Tibi replied that the two were not comparable.

The Yesh Atid leader concluded the conversation by saying he hoped to have an open dialogue and cooperation with Arab MKs.

Meanwhile, Zoabi announced that she did not accept Lapid’s apology.

“Lapid is continuing to teach racism. First it was ‘Introduction to Racism’ and ‘No Bloc with Zoabis,’ in an attempt to delegitimize all Arab MKs, and now he’s moved on to ‘Advanced Racism’ and making differentiations between the Arabs he sees as fit, and the bad ones,” she stated.

The Balad MK said she was “proud to be the ‘bad Arab’ for racists, and will continue to be that way.”

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