(September 6, 2018 / JNS)
A delegation of Joint List Arab lawmakers is utilizing the Knesset’s summer recess to slander Israel abroad. This time their arrows are aimed at Basic Law: Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and their arsenal includes a bevy of lies and libels.
It’s a little ironic that Arab lawmakers are concentrating their propaganda campaign in European Union bodies, the same union comprising member states that self-define as nation-states similar to Israel. Knesset member Ahmad Tibi and his cohort, however, won’t let the facts confuse them or the people sitting across from them in meetings. They are presenting the law as discriminatory and racist, and obscuring its true content.
Although the new nation-state law doesn’t distinguish between Jewish and Arab citizens in any way, Tibi has no qualms labeling it “apartheid legislation.” He is misleading his European audience, feeding them half-truths and painting a heart-rending picture: different roads for Jews and Arabs (as a matter of fact, some of the roads leading into Area A in Judea and Samaria are off-limits to Jews); separate courts for Jews and Arabs (despite the fact that Israeli courts are open to Arabs, even those without residency status in Israel or Judea and Samaria); demolitions of Arab homes (as if illegally built Jewish homes aren’t demolished as well and far more efficiently).
Of course, they’re also throwing in the classic historical lie (“Arabs were here before the Jews”), and you get a full picture of the briefings taking place in E.U. hallways courtesy of our Arab MKs.
According to Tibi, ratifying the Jewish collective’s right to self-determination violates the civil rights of the country’s Arab residents. This is simply a lie. Arabs have the right to self-determination in more than 20 countries, yet lo and behold—none of them are free and democratic and in each one regular Arab citizens (let alone minorities) lack basic civil rights. In Israel, on the other hand, every citizen’s individual rights, regardless of nationality or religion, are protected and anchored in both law and practice. Even when Tibi laments “the harm to the Arabic language” he’s lying. The nation-state law explicitly preserves its practical social status. Tibi’s fellow Arabs living in Europe can only dream of a similar status for their language.
Tibi is also spicing his concoction of fabrications with a speck of conspiracy theory, claiming that the Trump administration prodded Israel to pass the law. Yasser Arafat’s former adviser knows that when slandering Jews, a conspiracy theory always helps, thus he isn’t squandering this opportunity to ride the wave of animosity that some European elites harbor towards the U.S. president.
What’s worse, Tibi and his associates are calling for sanctions against Israel, arguing that Israel as a Jewish state is an illegitimate entity. To be sure, his ambitions have no chance to be realized, but it doesn’t lessen the gravity of his attempt to harm the state along with each and every one of us. Those who are supposed to be serving the Israeli public are brazenly working to harm it by cynically exploiting their status as members of Knesset. They are blatantly crossing red lines customary in democracies, and their actions pose a reverberating question about their place in Israeli society.
Ariel Bolstein is the founder of the Israel advocacy organization Faces of Israel.