Monday, 7 June 2010

The Knesset School for Racists

We are told ad nauseum that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East (ignoring Lebanon of course). But what is it like in the Knesset? How does it compare say with the British House of Parliament or US Congress and Senate? Watch this recording of what fellow Israeli Parliamentarians said and did to the Israeli Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi.

Richard Silverstein comments:
This YouTube video is the raw footage direct from the Knesset video feed and thus contains more immediacy than the edited footage on the TV news. Unlike the previous video, it is also English-captioned, conveying the emotion in the taunting with more immediacy than the uncaptioned video. You’ll note that the reason Zoabi is addressing the Knesset is on a point of personal privilege after other members had accused her of carrying knives on the floor of the Knesset and being a terrorist, traitor, and murderer (the latter a stretch considering if anything the IDF did the murdering and not Zoabi). She was given 5 minutes to address the personal charges against her. But not only did members heckle her address, the acting speaker, ostensibly to control the hecklers, interrupted her at will. He then had to audacity to tell her that her five minutes were up even though she’d barely gotten out a few sentences.

Even more disturbing at the end is an interaction with the male Knesset member who accused her of carrying knives, in which she courageously confronts him and he rages at her as if he would tear her limb from limb. It is portrait of raw Israeli male aggression and frightening to behold.

Knesset security then proceeds to forcibly remove Zoabi from the hall, only to be interrupted by the Knesset speaker who bellows to the assembled body: “Lifting a hand against an MK? Is that what we want the world to see? Don’t force her out. MK Zoabi, have a seat. Knesset security is collaborating with them [the rightists, in forcing her out of the hall].” A very telling interchange. In other words, the only reason Zoabi is not evicted is TV cameras and the fact that the Knesset speaker knows the whole world is watching.

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