Sheri Oz – Ahmad Tibi Says He is Not Anti-Jewish, Part I & II
Last month, CNN published an op-ed written by Member of Knesset Ahmad Tibi. I could not let the piece stand unchallenged. Already in the second paragraph, Tibi writes:
We are not responding to the hateful incitement we have heard from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters. Rather, in the interest of lasting peace and security, we are moving ahead with our political platform to advance the cause of equality, social justice and freedom in a country that systematically violates those basic principles.
I hate to say this, Ahmad dear, but in this paragraph, you are responding to what you call ‘hateful incitement’ but you are doing it elegantly. Everyone who has been paying attention to you over the years knows how elegant you are. By saying that Israel “systematically violates those basic principles” of “equality, social justice and freedom” you are inciting against the country. And you are doing so by telling the world that Israel does not uphold the very basic values it holds so dear.
Stabbing us in the heart with carefully crafted words in view of the whole world is hateful incitement, in my opinion. And, as a Member of Knesset, you are an authoritative voice loading the weapons of those who will turn words into violence, whether that is in the form of horrendous demonstrations and intimidation on campuses or acts of terror against Jews everywhere.
Let us see if you give examples of the “hateful incitement we have heard from” Bibi and his supporters, or examples of how Israel violates those principles you claim to be advancing. I read on . . .
We know that our 15 seats (out of 120 total) are not necessarily going to change the institutionalized system of discrimination imposed by Israel on its Arab-Palestinian population — nor will it end over half a century of illegal colonial-settler occupation of the State of Palestine.
What institutionalized system of discrimination? You mean the one that has you, Ahmad Tibi, as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset? Or is it the one that has Arab doctors as heads of departments in Israeli hospitals? Of course, there are many instances of interpersonal discrimination but they are against the law and they are certainly not institutionalized. And I know that you know that.
And: “over half a century of illegal colonial-settler occupation of the STATE (?) of Palestine”? What state? The one in your imagination? There is no state of Palestine. What the hell are you talking about? While the UN may erroneously refer to the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the Occupied State of Palestine or some such variation on that, it is not accepted as a full member-state. And there never was a state of Palestine any time in history.
Colonial-settler occupation? Do you even know the definition of that term? The first to apply the term to Israel was Patrick Wolfe in a much-cited paper that lied about Israel when he used our country as one example of settler-colonialism. For example, after stating that settler-colonialists rename places as part of their systematic taking over, Wolfe wrote:
The Zionist re-mapping and symbolic appropriation of the land – which also comprised the signposting of places and trails and the Hebraising of the ancient Arab names of those places . . .
However, history did not begin with the First World War, MK Ahmad Tibi, nor with the British Mandate period, nor even with the first wave of Jewish immigrants into the Palestinian province of the Ottoman Empire. It began way back and along the way, with the Arab Conquest, it was the Arabs who changed place names from the original Hebrew. The “Zionist re-mapping” is actually a reclaiming of the ancient Hebrew names that preceded the less-ancient Arab names.
We need broader majorities to end dozens of laws that negatively discriminate solely against the non-Jewish population approved in the Israeli parliament.
Name one such law, dear Ahmad. Oh? You mean the Nation-State Law? The one that gives collective rights to the Jews alone? That one? The one that denies you the chance to sue the Supreme Court in efforts to wipe out the Jewish symbols of the state? We all know that is on your bucket list of things to do before you retire from politics. We all know that you want to make this a state of all its peoples. Sorry. Not sorry.
Do you have any other example of these “dozens” of laws? Well, later in the article you give a grand total of two examples:
- The Ban of Family Unification.
- The Foreign Government Funding Law.
You link to discussions of these laws that can be found on the site of the NGO Adalah, The Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel. Exploration of the Adalah site does lead to discussion of a number of laws that are deemed discriminatory against Arabs but you selected these two specific laws for your lengthy op-ed in CNN. As my article is starting to go on and on, I discuss these laws you see as problematic in Part II of this critique.
This is Part II of an analysis of Ahmad Tibi’s op-ed on the CNN website. We left Part I where I showed the only two laws Tibi deemed worthy of being examples of his supposedly ‘dozens’ of discriminatory laws in Israel. Let us look at these two laws in some depth now.
The Ban of Family Unification.
Tibi is referring to an amendment to the citizenship law that restricts long-term residency permits to spouses of Israeli Arabs. Is there any surprise that Israel is hesitant to promote ‘family unification’ in this case? Maybe most of these relationships are real, based on real love and real marriage, but perhaps some are like those who marry Americans to get a green card because everyone knows life is easier in Israel than in the Palestinian Authority (PA). Not only can one earn a better income and get better health care and other social benefits, but you are free to speak your mind and criticize the ruling regime to your heart’s content whereas in the PA such openness can lead to harassment, imprisonment and torture.
And maybe some are potential terrorists.
The Supreme Court is almost equally split on the matter of this amendment with some judges saying that if Israeli security intelligence can assess PA citizens seeking job permits in Israel surely they can do the same for spouses. But the fact is that, until today, the court has upheld the amendment which must mean that there is some solid rationale behind it. Our Supreme Court is known for being leftwing and activist which only strengthens the case for the amendment having merit
If a Palestinian spouse was to request refugee status in Israel and prove that his/her life is under threat in the PA, that would be interesting. But I doubt Tibi would support that because it would reflect poorly (to say the least) upon the Palestinian leadership. God forbid!
I have to admit that I am ambivalent regarding this law. I would not like to prevent loving spouses from living together but at the same time, I do not want Israel to become a free-for-all who sees marriage as a way to become legitimate economic migrants.
Tibi et al also oppose the restriction on spouses who come from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon when those are definitely countries hostile to us so why should we allow in any of their citizens! What other country would?
The Foreign Government Funding Law.
Adalah writes that the law is invasive and compels NGOs to report on foreign funding received and tasks the NGO is supposed to carry out in return for the funding. They argue that:
Its purpose is rather to harm human rights NGOs, as these restrictions may discourage foreign government funding. By contrast, Jewish Israeli settler groups do not receive such funding but are privately funded, and are therefore unaffected by the legislation.
Furthermore, the law specifically exempts the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the United Israel Appeal, the Jewish National Fund and their subsidiary corporations from its provisions. Thus the bill is inherently discriminatory.
Palestinian NGOs in Israel and all NGOs that promote Palestinian rights are particularly vulnerable since they do not seek funding from Israeli governmental sources and have more limited access to private funding.
If transparency may discourage foreign governments from continuing to fund activism, one must ask what they are ‘buying’ from the grant recipients that makes them shy from having that become public knowledge. NGO Monitor says that, “No other democracy gets nearly as much foreign government funding as in the Israeli case.” And transparency can help the Israeli government know why.
There is likely a good reason these so-called pro-Palestinian NGOs do not apply for funding from the Israeli government as no government should be asked to fund activism against itself.
I wonder why pro-Palestinian (anti-Israeli) NGOs have “more limited access to private funding”. It must mean that fewer individuals are interested in supporting their goals. Is that not just how things go in the NGO-world?
I do not feel sorry for the leftwing NGOs having to disclose the foreign governmental sources filling their rich coffers. For example, B’tselem got over 300,000 NIS from Norway alone in 2018 (last report available online) and 97% of its funds were provided by foreign governments and organizations. Had Norway (or any other government) given a rightwing NGO 300,000 NIS you can be sure that Israel, and not only the NGO, would proudly proclaim that at every possible opportunity. They would not need a law to make them do it. Think about why that would be and why the leftwing NGOs are against this law.
I wish the law specified why the WZO, Jewish Agency, UAI, and JNF are exempt from reporting. I am still waiting for a reply from the Justice Ministry to shed light on this for me. Only then will I be able to say whether or not this is discriminatory.
The Nation State Law Again
Tibi makes a brief statement referring to the fact that the Supreme Court refused to force the Knesset to consider bills proposed by Arab MKs that would have the Knesset discuss turning Israel into a state of all its citizens and no longer the Jewish state. Yup, I knew that the Nation-State Law is a stick in his craw. I will elaborate on this soon in a separate article.
Tibi and the “Occupation”
After dealing with these examples of the ‘dozens’ of discriminatory laws, Tibi goes on:
This goes without even counting the military rule over Palestinians in the occupied territory of 1967 and its imposition of two systems on the same land, one for settlers and one for Palestinians, in what can be referred to as apartheid.
This is such a tired and erroneous argument. When Arafat signed on the dotted line on what is called the Oslo Accords, he gave up any claim to call what happens apartheid. The land was divided between Israel and the newly inaugurated PA. From that moment on, the Arabs living in Judea&Samaria (J&S) have been under the auspices of the PA and the Jews under the auspices of Israel — BY AGREEMENT. Similarly, what he calls ‘military rule’ is security arrangements shared between the PA and Israel — BY AGREEMENT. If anyone is under military rule it is the Jews living in J&S because civilian Israeli law has not been extended to them and they are under the legal umbrella of the military.
We do not have an anti-Jewish agenda, but we will not be silent in the face of those who have an anti-Palestinian agenda.
The Joint List will continue to build capacity to bring the best out of Arab and Jewish societies in Israel based on the principles of social justice and equality, while seeking to achieve independence for a State of Palestine on 1967 borders, with which Israel can coexist in peace and security.
I will leave it to you, dear reader, to decide how much you trust this man
Feature Image Credit: Wikipedia: Ahmad Tibi – אחמד טיבי / Copyrighted free use