MKs slam Tibi for 'incitement,' abusing freedoms

Arab MK says he was praising those who were "killed for their homeland" by Israeli forces, not suicide bombers.

MK Ahmed Tibi at PA event 311 (photo credit: Courtesy of PMW)
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.
On 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.”
MK 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 “explode.”
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 consequences.
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 trial.
“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 party.”
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.”