Danon steps up campaign against MK Zoabi

Zoabi tells 'Post' Likud MK working against the “right of the Palestinian citizens in Israel to elect their own representatives.”

Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Balad MK Haneen Zoabi 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said Wednesday that he had already collected 10,000 signatures on a petition demanding that MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) be banned from running for reelection in January.
Danon has accused Zoabi of having undermined Israel for participating in what he called the “terror flotilla” – the Mavi Marmara ship to Gaza that the IDF intercepted in May 2010. Israeli sea commandos were met with armed men aboard the top deck, and subsequently killed nine Turkish citizens while trying to gain control of the ship.
“We will not allow the appropriation of democracy in order to hurt the state from within,” Danon, the head of the World Likud organization, said in a statement Wednesday. “Zoabi used her immunity in order to support a terrorist struggle aimed at killing Israeli soldiers. There is no room for someone like this in Israel’s Knesset – her place is in a jail.”
In a mass mailing on state letterhead – rather than that of the Likud Party or his own as an MK – Danon outlined the reasons why he thinks Zoabi should be banned.
These included her participation in the flotilla, her call for “an intifada-style struggle” and declarations she has made in support of terrorism against Israelis.
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In reaction, Zoabi told The Jerusalem Post that the campaign is not really about her or the Balad Party, but is a “very dangerous campaign” against the “right of the Palestinian citizens in Israel to elect their own representatives” to the Knesset.
“Danon is not an exception. He does represent the extreme right-wing, but he also represents a tendency in the Israeli public opinion to have racist attitudes,” Zoabi said.
She pointed out a study, conducted by Dialog and published in Tuesday’s Haaretz, which indicated that one-third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset. In another startling finding, she noted that 59 percent of the survey’s respondents believe there should be a preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries.
“This is really not about the flotilla and not about an individual event or activity, or about me,” Zoabi said. “It is about a general tendency of the Israeli public toward very racist political culture and values, which really undermine the values of democracy, pluralism and equality.
“I don’t see myself as just representing Palestinian rights. I see myself as also representing Israeli citizens who believe in democracy and don’t want to see the collapse of freedom of expression.”
The Balad MK said her party promotes a vision of equality and democracy. “All of the other parties, the Likud, Kadima, Labor... are not innocent in the creation of this racist atmosphere.”
She added: “A normal society, a normal state, has an interest to support my party, because by doing this they support having the basic conditions of democracy.”
So far, attempts by Danon and others to have Zoabi disqualified from running have been rejected by the Elections Commission.
Balad, headed by Jamal Zahalka and founded in 1995, currently holds three Knesset seats.