Tibi: Lieberman is like Le Pen, Heider

Arab MK says Israel is not democratic in 'LA Times' interview.

May 23, 2010 11:32
2 minute read.
Tibi: Lieberman is like Le Pen, Heider

tibi 298.88 AJ. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])


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MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta'al) charged that Israel was not a democracy and called Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman a "racist" in a particularly vitriolic interview published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday.

Israel, Tibi said, cannot be both Jewish and democratic.

“There is a contradiction between the two values,” he explained. “If you are democratic, you should believe in equality, but if you define the nation by a Jewish ethnicity, you are saying any Jewish person is superior to a non-Jewish person.”

In the interview, he defined himself as “a Palestinian-Arab citizen of Israel,” and said that if an independent Palestinian state was formed, he would stay in Israel.

“I'm a native of Taibe, and that's part of the state of Israel,” Tibi said. “I take my citizenship seriously. I want to improve my citizenship in order to be equal. I don't want to be removed or treated like a chess piece. I don't want anyone deported from Israel. But if someone has to leave, it should be the ones who arrived last.”

Tibi ousted from speaker's podium
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Tibi, who is known for his divisive rhetoric, also denied that there was equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel. “There is discrimination in every field of life except one. There is one man, one vote,” Tibi said.

“In budget allocation, industry, education, land, religious places, employment there are huge gaps between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority,” he lamented. “Jewish cities are very civilized. Arab towns are being strangulated. There has not been one new Arab town in since 1948, but there have been hundreds of settlements.”

Tibi added that “there is not one Arab official employed in a high-ranking post, no legal adviser, no director-general,” calling this “a built-in discriminatory policy.”

When asked about racism in Israel, Tibi referred to a proposal of Lieberman's that would require all members of Knesset to pledge loyalty to the state.

“[Israel Beiteinu’s] motions and proposed laws are pure racism,” Tibi said. “The so-called loyalty motion demands that we be loyal to Zionism and to Israel as a Jewish state or we won't be allowed to be a candidate for the Knesset or receive our budget allocation from the state.”

“This is a fascist campaign,” he added, comparing Israel's FM to notorious European anti-immigrant politicians. “Lieberman is the equivalent of Jean-Marie Le Pen from France and [the late] Joerg Heider from Austria.” However, Tibi pointed out, “Heider was an indigenous politician who was racist against foreigners. Here, we are talking about an immigrant politician who is racist against the indigenous people," he said, apparently alluding to the fact that Lieberman was born in the USSR.

Tibi, a former gynecologist who served as a political adviser to Yasser Arafat before being elected to the Knesset in 1999. He was forcibly removed from the speaker’s podium of the Knesset in April after he discussed his controversial visit to Libya.

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