by Nadav Shragai
Only a country that has gone completely mad and is incapable of drawing a clear line between freedom of expression and democracy, and incitement and terror, would allow MKs such as these to continue serving in its legislative branch.
The allegations Sunday that Joint Arab List MK Basel Ghattas smuggled 12 cellular phones to security prisoners in Ketziot prison, while visiting a member of the terrorist cell that murdered IDF soldier Moshe Tamam, should not exactly come as a surprise.
Ghattas, who in the past has supported boycotts against Israel, is a cousin of former Balad MK Azmi Bashara, who was suspected of spying for Hezbollah and who fled the country. Meanwhile, several of his colleagues in the Israeli Knesset often behave as if they are members of the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.
Joint Arab List MK Ahmad Tibi, for example, used to be Yasser Arafat's adviser on Israel. Tibi was even reprimanded harshly by the Knesset Ethics Committee after saying, "There is no higher value than Shahada [a declaration of Islamic faith]," and that "the shahid [martyr] is the trailblazer, who draws the path to freedom and liberty with his own blood." To this day, Joint Arab List MK Hanin Zoabi refuses to call the kidnappers and murderers of the three teenage boys from Gush Etzion terrorists. Joint Arab List MK Jamal Zahalka has met with senior Hamas officials.
The problem with some of the Arab MKs is twofold. Like their Jewish Knesset colleagues, upon being sworn in, they vowed to uphold allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws and to faithfully fulfill their duties in the Knesset. But their conduct, and not for the first time, raises two fundamental questions. One, where do their loyalties truly lie? To Israel and its laws? Or to the Palestinians in Gaza and Judea and Samaria, and to the terrorists who harm the security of the country and murder Jews?
The second question is whether the empathy, or claimed empathy, that Arab MKs show terrorists who murder Jews indeed represents the Israeli Arab public. This question is easier to answer. The vast majority of Israeli Arabs, some 1.5 million people, are law-abiding, peaceful citizens. They want their political representatives to tend to the interests and needs of the country's Arab citizens. The problem is that time and again they vote for extremist political representation. Arab society has not produced from within a true alternative to MKs who support terrorism.
The first question is also relatively easy to address: Some Arab MKs are, in fact, considerably more loyal to the Palestinian cause and its emissaries -- who are very often terrorists and murderers of Jews -- than to the Israeli Knesset. Only a country that has gone completely mad and is incapable of drawing a clear line between freedom of expression and democracy, and incitement and terror, allows MKs such as these to continue serving in its legislative branch.
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