MK Ahmed Tibi at PA event 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy of PMW)
Politicians slammed MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List- Ta’al) for saying that
there is “nothing more praiseworthy than martyrdom,” raising questions about the
limits of freedom of speech and parliamentary immunity on Thursday.
Wednesday, the NGO Palestinian Media Watch released a video in which Tibi is
seen saying at a Palestinian Authority event that “the martyr is the ultimate
source of pride... the symbol of the homeland.”
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In Arabic, the word
“martyr” means to die in the name of God, but in the Palestinian- Israeli
conflict, the term is associated with suicide bombers and terrorists who are
killed while attacking Israel.
“Tibi is a traitor, and his statements
incite to terrorism,” MK Danny Danon (Likud) said on Thursday. “He should be
removed from the Knesset and put behind bars.”
The Likud MK said that, in
his opinion, Tibi went beyond the limits of parliamentary immunity by supporting
armed conflict against the State of Israel.
“Under the guise of
democracy, the State of Israel brought a supporter of terrorism to the Knesset,
and the time has come to put Tibi back in his natural place – the parliament in
Ramallah,” he added.
Danon said he plans to submit a bill that would
allow the removal of an MK from the Knesset if three-fourths of MKs vote to do
so, which he hopes will stop the “absurdity before it’s too late.”
Nachman Shai (Kadima) said Tibi was stretching his right to free speech as far
as possible, and predicted that the public’s tolerance would soon
The Kadima MK warned that this could put freedom of expression
on its death bed, adding that Tibi will only have himself to blame for the
Following the publication of Tibi’s remarks in the Israeli
media, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) wrote a letter to Attorney-General
Yehuda Weinstein late Wednesday night, asking him to put the UAL-Ta’al MK on
“Your office has not hesitated to prosecute right-wing activists
for less severe speeches,” Ben-Ari said. “The time has come to stop Tibi’s
However, the UAL-Ta’al MK said that others are overreacting, due
to Israeli ignorance about the concept of martyrdom.
According to Tibi,
the word shaheed (martyr) means a person who was “killed by the occupation” or
died for a national cause. This includes children and Israeli Arabs killed in
Land Day riots.
“All of these were killed for their homeland, which is a
praiseworthy value,” he added.
Tibi explained that he had specifically
mentioned names, none of which were suicide bombers, and claimed that whoever
uploaded the video removed the names intentionally in order to incite against
him and make it look like he supports terrorists.
The MK also quoted
Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish: “We demand to live on this land, which
requires [a sacrifice of] life.”