Arab MKs’ hypocrisy

Contempt toward Israel is gradually becoming an ever-greater vote-getter on the Arab street.

Tibi yelling in Knesset 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Tibi yelling in Knesset 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Three Israeli-Arab MKs – UAL-Ta’al’s Ahmed Tibi and Taleb a-Sanaa, and Hadash’s Muhammad Barakei – participated in the Cairo reconciliation ceremony on Wednesday between Fatah and Hamas. The fact that Hamas dogmatically rules out any negotiation with or recognition of Israel appeared not to dampen the enthusiasm of parliamentarians who are bankrolled by the taxpayers of the state Hamas has vowed to destroy.
There was nothing but conviviality between the Israelis and Hamas headliner Khaled Mashaal, who arrived in Cairo from his Damascus sanctuary. Exuding elation, the Israeli guests happily flouted Israel’s prohibitions against consorting with implacable enemies. Their key criticism was of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s entreaty to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to ditch the path of peace by allying himself to a terrorist organization that rejects Israel’s very right to exist.
We are hardly taken aback. The in-your-face provocations by Arab MKs have become routine. It has long appeared that the elected representatives of Israel’s Arab sector compete hard with each other for the distinction of who riles the Jews most.
Thus MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) participated in the Gaza-bound flotilla on board the Mavi Marmara last year, when some of her shipmates battled Israeli soldiers. She branded the Israelis “pirates,” who “wanted to inflict the highest possible number of fatalities.”
For this she was rapped lightly on the knuckles. Last July 13, the Knesset plenum voted to strip her of three parliamentary privileges: a diplomatic passport, entitlement to reimbursement for legal services, and permission to visit countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations. This was no deterrent for a politician who has expressed support for Iranian nukes because “Israel needs to fear.”
The MKs against whom Zoabi vies in the contest for the most anti-Israeli rhetoric, meanwhile, have not had their wrists slapped for dozens of contentious excursions to enemy capitals, where they hobnob with some of Israel’s most outspoken foes and spout inflammatory anti-Israel oratory.
Most Israelis are well used to this. We ask ourselves whether our tolerance doesn’t encourage escalated seditious impudence and contribute to the radicalization of the Israeli-Arab sector, even as we hold true to the democratic framework that allows the MKs their freedoms.
The fact is that contempt toward Israel is gradually becoming an ever-greater vote-getter on the Arab street.
This, in turn, emboldens candidates to outdo each other in voicing such contempt. This vicious cycle is dangerous for Israel but also for Israel’s Arab citizens. If anything hinders progress and integration it is such radicalization, which cannot but severely unsettle the Jewish majority.
ISRAEL’S ARABS – who benefit here from the democratic governance Arabs throughout the region are now risking their lives to attain – should internalize the hypocrisy of their MKs. As peoples across our borders strive to throw off the yoke of tyranny, they have been championing murderous, anti-democratic forces in Syria, Libya, within Hamas and beyond.
To hear these MKs during their recent Cairo junket, the reality in post-Mubarak Egypt is the kind of euphoric perfection they had always valued and sought. Said Sanna: “One can sense that Egypt now enjoys endless freedom.
Even workers do their jobs more quickly. Under Mubarak they were sluggish. Suddenly they’re industrious – even in street cleaning. People are optimistic. There’s rapture on all faces.”
Superlatives also came from Barakei, who opined that “the Egyptian revolution was unprecedented in modern history... Strolling in Tahrir Square, where it all began, is like being on top of the world.”
Tibi was almost low-key in comparison when he said that “it’s fun being in post-revolution Egypt.”
Yet what did these MKs say only months earlier, when they were honored to be invited by the now-ousted and belatedly reviled Mubarak? They couldn’t flatter him enough and rushed to bask in his limelight.
The same goes for Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Last April, a delegation of Arab MKs, including Zoabi, Tibi and Sanaa, were Gaddafi’s guests. Tibi called him, “President of all presidents and king of all Arab kings.”
More recently he quipped that he didn’t “care if Gaddafi goes to hell.”
Such is the measure of his moral consistency.
In an age when Arabs everywhere are demonstrating in support of new standards of transparency, it is to be hoped that they would be cognizant of the disingenuousness of their representatives in Israel’s Knesset.