Israel MK Hanin Zoabi’s comments that IDF soldiers were “murderers,” which she made Wednesday in the course of a Knesset discussion on the Israel-Turkey reconciliation, were aimed at the Arab community, not the Jewish one, analysts on Israel Radio assessed. According to the analysts, Zoabi, who is unlikely to be a Knesset member after the next election, is trying to rally support from with the Israeli Arab community to pressure the United Arab List and the Balad party to keep her on the list of MKs running for office.
Zoabi’s apparent concern for re-election comes in the wake of loud voices among Arab voters for their MKs to stay out of “Jewish” politics and concentrate on the issues that matter to them – like housing, education, and improving their daily lives.
According to the analysts, negative social media posts by Israeli Arabs jump every time Zoabi or other UAL (United Arab List) MKs (notably Jamal Zahalka and Ahmed Tibi) make particularly outrageous comments that get them booted out of the plenum – as was the case with Zoabi’s comments this week. According to one post by a Taibe resident, for example, Zoabi “sometimes goes overboard. We don’t want leaders in the Knesset who are there just to shout instead of accomplishing things. It seems to me that all she does is put on ‘shows’ that get her ejected. In the end it is the Arab citizens who pay the price. I have no problem with political involvement, but not at the cost of the daiily suffering of Arabs.”
Another post, put up by a UAL activist, said that he was “not at all satisfied with Zoabi’s performance. If I were her I would not react to issues as she does. There are people in the government who are just waiting for this kind of thing. All the yelling by Arab MKs on these matters will not help us, they only hurt us. If a poll were taken among Arab voters rating their MKs, I do not believe Zoabi’s numbers would be too high. Israeli Arabs are more interested in advancing their own lives and improving their societies. Unfortunately none of the politicians are seeking this. Zoabi is just looking for attention, and this is in the wake of the poor performance she showed in the internal UAL polling.”
In a Knesset speech that got her ejected from the plenum Wednesday, Hanin called IDF soldiers “murderers,” and demanded that the Israeli government apologize to the “political activists” aboard the Mavi Marmara, including herself. At least 60 complaints on the comments have been filed by MKs with the Knesset Ethics Committee, Yisrael Hayom reported Friday.
Zoabi on Thursday defended the harsh comments she made about IDF soldiers involved in the 2010 flotilla incident. In an interview on Army Radio, Zoabi said that by agreeing to pay compensation, Israel had admitted that it was responsible for “murder. I apparently do not have the right to express a political opinion, which was why I was booted out of the Knesset,” she said. “You signed the deal and I call this an admission of guilt of murder. Some were murdered on the flotilla, others were murdered in Gaza, babies were murdered. In the summer of 2014 500 babies were killed in Gaza. Is there any news here?”
According to Zoabi, her position that IDF soldiers are murderers “is a national consensus and a worldwide consensus. It is not just the Palestinians who feel this way, but the entire world. If I were standing toe to toe with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on an international podium, who do you think would get the applause?”