'Arab' quip puts minister in hot water

Aharonovitch tells undercover cop disguised as a drug addict that he resembles an Araboush .

lieberman aharonovitch 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
lieberman aharonovitch 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israel Beiteinu) ignited a firestorm of controversy on Tuesday after telling an undercover police officer disguised as a drug addict that he resembled an Araboush - an extremely derogatory Hebrew term for Arabs. "You really look like an Araboush," a smiling Aharonovitch told an undercover officer he encountered during a tour of a rundown south Tel Aviv neighborhood, near the old central bus station. The comments were made in full view of media cameras and were clearly picked up by microphones. Aharonovitch was being briefed on measures taken to combat drugs and crime in the area, and officers on the ground called the undercover officer over to the public security minister for an impromptu meeting. The comment has drawn fierce criticism from Israeli-Arab leaders. "Every day Aharonovitch stays in office is another mark of Cain," Deputy Knesset Speaker and United Arab List-Ta'al chairman Ahmed Tibi told Channel 2 News on Tuesday evening. Tibi said Israel was "taking the form of a Jewish Liebermanesque state." In a statement, Aharonovitch said the term had been used "as slang during a moment of banter," adding that "there was no intention of causing offense to anyone." The term Araboush has stirred controversy before - in September 2006 a police officer sent out a message on the police beeper system saying that "15,000 Araboush" had attended a rally organized by the Islamic Movement in Umm el-Fahm. The officer was later fired by former public security minister Avi Dichter.