Zoabi to Cape Town tribunal: Israel a racist state

Kadima's Schneller calls to revoke Balad MK's citizenship after she testified against the state at Russell Tribunal.

Zoabi 311 (channel 10) (photo credit: Channel 10)
Zoabi 311 (channel 10)
(photo credit: Channel 10)
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) filed a complaint against Haneen Zoabi to the Knesset Ethics Committee on Sunday and called to revoke her citizenship after the Balad MK gave a lecture in South Africa on “the racist political and legal regime in Israel.”
Zoabi addressed the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Cape Town, which is meant to support Palestinians’ rights and investigate whether Israel is considered an apartheid state under international law.
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“Establishing this tribunal in Cape Town gives it symbolic value, hinting at the attempts of the Israeli regime to make Israel the exclusive state of the Jews,” Zoabi said. “Unlike Israel, South Africa admitted that it was a racist regime, which brought a change.”
The original Russell Tribunal was an international, public body founded by British philosopher Bertrand Russell and hosted by French philosopher and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre in 1966 to investigate and evaluate American foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam. It was largely ignored in the United States, where many considered it an ineffectual, biased show trial.
The tribunal on Palestine was formed in 2009 to examine the West Bank security barrier and the IDF’s Cast Lead offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and held meetings last year in Barcelona and London.
The Cape Town tribunal includes Stephane Hessel, a 94- year-old survivor of Buchenwald who helped draft the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, Pulitzer Prize-winning US author and poet Alice Walker, and Irish Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire.
The South African Zionist Federation has called the event, which is to involve prominent South Africans and already is making national headlines in the country, “an irrelevant talk shop.”
“Despite its name, the Russell Tribunal is not an impartial, accountable judicial body,” a vice chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, Ben Swartz, said. “Rather it is a loose association of lobbyists pushing a narrow, one-sided political agenda, in this case the delegitimization of the State of Israel.”
Swartz called it “a pointless political smear campaign by a self-appointed group of anti- Israel activists.”
Zoabi said the Russell Tribunal asked the Israeli government to send representatives, but did not receive an answer.
The Balad MK told the tribunal that Israel is an inherently racist state.
Schneller filed a complaint against Zoabi to the Knesset Ethics Committee, and said that “the time has come to find a way to revoke Zoabi’s citizenship.”
“Zoabi makes every effort to disconnect herself from the country, and the government should answer her wishes,” he said. “Israeli Arabs must denounce this rotten apple that is identified with Hamas and Hezbollah.
“Anyone who supports this criminal is announcing that he wants to give up his Israeli citizenship and join Israel’s enemies,” Schneller said.
The Kadima MK explained in his ethics complaint that Zoabi did not request permission to leave the country, as required by Knesset regulations. In addition, he asked the Ethics Committee to investigate who funded Zoabi’s trip as well as “the legal protection she has while undermine the State of Israel.”
Schneller asked the Ethics Committee to “use its authority against this charging bull.”
On Saturday, Zoabi and fellow Balad MK Jamal Zahalka visited Istanbul, where Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the two “heroes” and commended them for “standing strong against Israeli policies and Zoabi’s praiseworthy participation in the flotilla to Gaza.” She was aboard the Mavi Marmara when it was boarded by Israel Navy commandos in May 2010.
MK Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Beiteinu) called the two a “fifth column, enemies of the state acting from within.”
According to Michaeli, Zahalka called for the Turks to sanction Israel. A democracy cannot tolerate “those who try to destroy it from within,” Michaeli said.
“I call to expel Zahalka and Zoabi [from the Knesset] and put them on trial for undermining the State of Israel,” she said. “They should go to the Gazan parliament, where they belong.”
Michaeli said on Sunday that she plans to ask file a complaint to the Attorney-General’s Office and ask that Zoabi, Zahalka and MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) be indicted.
The Israel Beiteinu MK also said that a parliamentary inquiry committee should investigate the activities of lawmakers “who act against the state.”
JTA contributed to this report.