Socialist Worker

Haneen Zoabi's message to Israel: I’ll be back on the flotilla

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2213

Haneen Zoabi, the Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament who went on the flotilla to Gaza, vowed that she will do it again at a meeting in London last Wednesday.

She told an audience of hundreds: “Israel wanted to send a message. Now I must send them a message back.

“It’s now more important for me to participate in the next flotilla—I must do so. I am not afraid.”

Haneen is the first woman ever to be elected to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, from an Arab party. She was aboard the Mavi Marmara ship that was trying to deliver aid and break the siege of Gaza when Israel brutally attacked it in May.

When she tried to speak in the Knesset about her experiences, Israeli MPs physically attacked her.

The Knesset has now voted to remove her parliamentary privileges—and some members even want her to be stripped of Israeli citizenship.

Haneen told the London crowd, “Racism and discrimination against Palestinians in Israel is systematic.

“It is part of the Zionist ideology that says it was ‘a land without a people’. We are ghosts—phantoms.

“In Israel I have no identity. I have no history. I am told I am an ‘Israeli Arab’.”

She explained how Israel sees the fact that some Palestinians managed to remain inside Israel’s borders after 1948 and become citizens as its great historic mistake.

“The Zionist project said that in order to live with those who remain we must domesticate them,” she added.

“So I’m told I must swear loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state. But I am not a Jew.”

Haneen explained why she felt she had to go on the flotilla: “No one can support the siege of Gaza and call themselves a human being,” she said.

“I met a hostile response in the Knesset because I was a witness [to the flotilla massacre] and I started to talk.”

She ridiculed the idea that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. “If Israel wants to be a democracy it shouldn’t confiscate my land.

“When I say in the Knesset I am Palestinian they shout, ‘How can you say this?’ But I’m not an immigrant here. I am the indigenous people.

“I am just asking for equality. By using the word equality you must radically change the state in Israel.”

Haneen spoke at a meeting organised by Middle East Monitor and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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Tue 3 Aug 2010, 18:18 BST
Issue No. 2213
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