Why is this man sitting in the Knesset?

For all that we complain about the perfidy of the British, we have a lot to learn from them when it comes to tolerating antisemitism in the ranks of their politicians. In the wake of the scandal of antisemitism in the Labour Party, several MPs have been suspended or even expelled from the party. Of course there is still a long way to go, with outright antisemites like “Jihad Jenny” Tonge still retaining her peerage and sitting in the House of Lords.

CORRECTION: Brian Goldfarb in the comments corrects my point above, and says that Labour party members were suspended, not actual MPs.

But who are we to complain about the British when we have a person sitting in the Knesset right here in our capital city of Jerusalem who appears to deny his own connection to Israel?

MK Zouheir Bahloul of the Zionist Union Party (how ironic), caused an outrage last week when he asserted that the Palestinian who stabbed a soldier, and who was then killed by that soldier, is not a terrorist:

Speaking to Army Radio, Bahloul made the distinction between those who attack civilians and those who attack soldiers.

“I agree the stabber is a murderer, but he is not a terrorist. My problem is when this word becomes too inclusive and turns every Palestinian into a terrorist,” he said.

Rebukes also came from Bahloul’s own party. Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog said he “clarified to MK Bahloul that I reject and strongly condemn his statements and that the Zionist Union’s position stipulates that a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. It does not matter if he sets out to kill Arabs or Jews.”

Of course all the politicians on both sides of the aisle jumped on their respective bandwagons to condemn each other, but condemnation for Bahloul’s statement came from both end of the spectrum.

MKs Bahloul and Dichter at Acre cultural event

However, instead of backing down or apologizing, Bahloul doubled down on his assertion:

During a cultural event in the northern city of Acre, Israeli-Arab MK Bahloul said Israeli soldiers were “a symbol of the occupation” for Palestinians and asked why Jewish groups fighting British soldiers during the Mandate area could be considered as fighting for their freedom while Palestinians could not.

“What can a Palestinian, suffocating under the yoke of occupation for 49 years, do in order regain his freedom? The soldiers are, for him, a symbol of the occupation. Before 1948 there was the British Mandate here. Etzel, Lehi and the other Jewish organizations went out to the street to fight British soldiers and build your state, which is an amazing state. Why are the Palestinians not allowed to do so?” the MK, a former sports broadcaster and journalist, asked.

Comparing Israel to the British occupation is outrageous. No one offered the Jews a state at the time. Or rather, the state had been offered at the time of the Balfour Declaration, and then withdrawn and reneged upon by the same perfidious British as I mentioned at the beginning. The gates of Israel were closed precisely at the time when they were needed to remain open the most – during the years preceding and during the Holocaust.

Now that we have our independent state, Israel has been offering peace, withdrawals and concessions for nearly 25 years, and while peace was achieved with Egypt and Jordan, the Palestinians have been dishonest negotiators at best.

I would suggest to Bahloul that instead of terrorism, the Palestinians lay down their arms and start to negotiate in honesty and integrity with the Israelis. He would be amazed what could be achieved. Of course, educating the Palestinian public to accept Israel as a Jewish country, and cease the incessant brainwashing and incitement of the next generation to hate, despise and murder Jews, is a vital prerequisite for any progress in peace talks.

Likud MK Avi Dichter, who was Bahloul’s guest at the Saturday cultural event, said Bahloul’s comments on the stabber not being a terrorist legitimize terrorism. “You wouldn’t dare say such a thing if you were a member of the Egyptian parliament or in Ramallah,” charged Dichter, sitting on stage alongside Bahloul. It was “dangerous” to clam that an attack, say, “in which a soldier is slashed in the central station in Afula when he is waiting to board a bus, is not a terror attack,” said Dichter.

Bahloul took his statements overboard when he appeared to deny his own connection to Israel:

Dichter said that he was surprised to hear a fellow Knesset member describe Israel as “your country.” Bahloul again shot back: “This is the Jews’ country and not the Arabs’ country.”

This is a strange and worrying statement. Yes, Israel is the Jewish State, but since there is a 20% Arab population at the very least, and since Arabs are counted amongst the top tiers of the political echelons (see Bahloul himself as an example), in the judicial system, in the IDF, in academia, medicine, the arts, in education … the list goes on … how can Bahloul make such a claim in all honesty?

And if that is how he feels, what on earth is he doing in the Knesset, the very seat of Jewish power and sovereignty?

Moreover, how is the Zionist Union party tolerating a member with such a divisive attitude, who seems to refute the Jewish and Zionist character of Israel?

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6 Responses to Why is this man sitting in the Knesset?

  1. DP-PT says:

    It would appear that this clown (for proof just listen to some of his football radio commentaries before he became an MK) has opened the door to Israel using capital punishment on these “non-terrorists” who attack IDF personnel, as the British did….

  2. Elise Ronan says:

    I think you tolerate him the way the US tolerated in the Senate John Kerry, who called US Vietnam vets “baby killers,” “rapists,” and “war criminals.” Then went on to double down on his anti-Americanism and even his own version of antisemitism while Secretary of State. Unfortunately as far as Kerry is concerned he is part and parcel of an American Left that views his comments with applause.

    And we also allow people like 9/11 truther and virulent antisemite Cynthia McKinney to sit in Congress as well. It is up to the people who elected then to throw them out of office, which is what happened to McKinney.

    Allowing them to stay in “power” doesn’t mean that they cannot be held to task and marginalized by their party, media and by bloggers such as yourself. They can be held to the derision they deserve. Understandingly the system in Israel is a little different than in the US, more akin to the British parliamentary system, but it is still a democracy and it is up to the voters to do something about this Knesset member. Granted the Party politics has more sway, but they also want to attract Arab voters.

    Also remember, there is no law making it a crime to verbally support attacks on soldiers or most members of the Haaretz editorial board would be behind bars. Meanwhile in Britain there is a race-hatred law to which the Labour party officials ran afoul. Their dismissal is not about caring for Jews, it is about breaking the law. If they had simply kept their mouths shut, or atleast not put it down on paper or in public, noone at large would know how they really feel, or couldn’t really prove it in a court of law. In fact for that alone they should have been dismissed for abject stupidity.

    Now why this particular Arab member, who doesn’t believe that Israel is his country, and gives a pass to the kleptocracy and failures of Palestinian leadership, sits in the Knesset, for that bit of complete hypocrisy you will have to ask him.

    • anneinpt says:

      Excellent points Elise. Thank you for bringing up the point that it’s not actually against the law in Israel, as opposed to the UK, to support attacks on the army (though there is a law making it illegal to curse or attack public officials, including the police, and possibly by extension the IDF, therefore Bahloul could be considered breaking the law on this point). There is also the issue of incitement which is illegal.

      As to your last point, indeed. If he’s so opposed to the state of Israel why is he sitting in the Knesset, the Parliament of that very state?

  3. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Anne: “point of information” (as they say in the best run debates): no Labour MP has been suspended from membership of the Party (though the decidedly unlovely Gerald Kauffman does deserve to be suspended), but a number of members, including at least one Councillor – in Luton – as well as an officer of the Woking (safe Conservative seat) Labour Party, among others.

    That said, there is another difference between now and the Mandate period: the major resistance groups (which became the Hagana on independence and included the Palmach) focussed their efforts on infrastructure and, where appropriate, against troops of the occupation forces (Irgun and the Stern Gang were more likely to carry out “terrorist” attacks and were not immune in targeting sites including those where civilians were bound to be caught up in the violence (the bombing of the King David Hotel, for example).

    But, for the most part, no-one justified as whatever the Jewish equivalent of Jihad might be these attacks. They were against the law, but were seen as the only way to force the hand of the British. I’m not aware of any efforts by the Sochnut (Jewish Agency) to invert the actions as the PA is doing.

    • anneinpt says:

      Brian, thanks for your clarification. I will update my post accordingly.

      You make excellent points about the difference between the Jewish attacks against the British as opposed to Palestinian terrorism today. These points should be broadcast and repeated constantly.

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