Haneen Zoabi MK

October 26, 2012 · Print This Article

During Palestine Day at Féile an Phobail Palestinian representative Haneen Zoabi spoke on a platform with Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan who was on his fifty-fifth day of hunger strike in 1981 when the hunger strike ended. During her visit to West Belfast Haneen also visited the Republican Plot in Milltown Cemetery and the graves of Bobby Sands, Joe McDonnell and Kieran Doherty TD.

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Haneen Zoabi MK, is a Palestinian citizen of Israel who rose to international prominence following the Israeli attack on the 2010 Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. Haneen is a feminist, educationalist and parliamentarian. Elected to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, as a BALAD party representative in 2009, she is the first Palestinian woman in Israel to represent an Arab-Palestinian political party in Israel and has become one of the state’s most outspoken and eloquent critics, and thus, one of the most controversial and hated politicians in the Knesset. Ms Zoabi was on a speaking tour of Ireland from Monday 6th to Friday 10th August, hosted by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Ms Zoabi, who was on board the Mavi Marmara ship when it was stormed by Israeli commandos, condemned the raid in Israel’s parliament as “a pirate military operation”. Her involvement led to her being portrayed as a hate figure by the Israeli right. Ms Zoabi was called “traitor” and “terrorist” by her fellow parliamentarians, suffered an attempted physical assault by one of her Knesset colleagues, received death threats, and demands from the Israeli Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, that her parliamentary immunity and Israeli citizenship be revoked. As a result the Knesset has since removed a number of Ms Zoabi’s parliamentary privileges, including the right to participate in discussions and to vote in parliamentary committees. In another incident she was shot in the back and neck with rubber bullets by Israeli police during a demonstration against right-wing Jewish extremists in northern Israel in 2010.

With a background in education and media, Ms Zoabi campaigns for equal rights for all Israel’s citizens and for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. She believes that the Israeli state ideology of Zionism is inherently racist and points to over 30 Israeli laws that legally discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. Describing her quest for equality she has said, “The problem is not simply the terms of citizenship: we want to be equal to the Jews, but also, as the indigenous people, this homeland belongs to us. I want to be equal not because I immigrated or because I’m a citizen. Primarily I want to be equal because it is my homeland and nobody has the right to take it away.” At the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in South Africa she testified that Israel was an a state of “apartheid discrimination” and that “we the [Palestinian] citizens are a strategic threat because we reveal more than Palestinians in the Occupied Territories the contradiction behind the Jewish state and democracy”.

Ms Zoabi has been at the forefront in opposing the introduction of loyalty oaths for Israel’s non-Jewish minorities, Admission Committees and other anti-democratic legislation, condemning leading Israeli politicians, including the prime minister, as “all a bunch of fascists pure and simple.” Of the current legislative assault on Israel’s already-limited democracy she remarks that it is “a gradual continuation of long-standing policies that confiscated my land; that discriminate against me; and that refuse to recognize me as an equal citizen and as one of the owners of this homeland.”

Ms Zoabi additionally brings a much needed feminist perspective to the struggle for equality and civil rights, calling for Israeli feminists to join with Palestinian advocates: “We can’t call ourselves feminists if we occupy other women, demolish their homes, force them to live under a blockade, support settlement expansion, and then come home and talk about women’s rights.”

Despite on-going harassment and threats Haneen remains undaunted; referring back to those she is elected to represent, she has remarked, “I was not elected to keep silent or to sit at the table and clap”.



One Response to “Haneen Zoabi MK”

  1. Kadir on November 24th, 2012 3:08 pm

    Adam,Regarding your last paragraph, when I hoestd the firedoglake Book Salon session with Jeremy , he only responded to one question about non-Jews inside of Israel, as most commenters/questioners at the session were interested in other issues than the demographic trajectory on that side of the Green Line. Here is the question posed and his response:sn1789: There simply are not enough natural resources in Gaza and the West Bank, nor is there enough capital interested in investing in these places for a viable Palestine to exist alongside Israel. More importantly, the two state solution is inimicable to the very ethnocratic logic of Israel. In 50 years Palestinians will be a majority inside the Green Line. Blood and Soil nationalism is a disaster no matter who practices it. Israel as a Jewish state can only be an apartheid state. The failure Oslo proves the impossibility of a two state solution. As more Palestinians inside the Green line develop political confidence Jewish Israelis will have a choice. Either become fascists and openly support apartheid – ala A. Lieberman (the more likely choice), or stop practicing blood and soil nationalism and embrace a single, secular, democratic, multiethnic (and possibly socialist) state in all of historic Palestine.History will vindicate Gasan Ghanafani – and his assassin (Moshe Dayan) will go down in history as a racist alongside P.W. BothaJeremy Ben Ami: Obviously sn, we don’t agree.The Palestinian and Israeli economies working in tandem together could become a real economic powerhouse – the two best-educated people in the region. The combination could be dynamic.Demographic realities inside the Green Line are not as you think – which raises a whole ‘nother can of worms but ultra-Orthodox birth rates are actually far higher than non-Jewish birthrates. 50 years is a very long time and much can happen. A successful peace and the economic progress that that should allow for all sectors of Israel and Palestine will go far toward addressing the challenges that will face our grandchildren in 2061!!It seemed to me at the time that his optimism about this was forced. He strikes me as somewhat more flexible than he is sometimes given credit for, though.

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