By Ray Hanania
Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday overwhelming ruled that Palestinian member of the Knesset Haneen Zoabi has an absolute right to run for re-election, reversing the State’s election board which has been steadily embracing Apartheid-like policies against non-Jews in order to exclude them from the election process.
Last week, the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the State of Israel voted overwhelmingly in what many believe was a racist move to deny Arab Israeli Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi the right to seek re-election and threw her off of the March 17 election ballot.
The Central Elections Committee’s (CEC) voted to disqualify Arab Member of the Knesset (MK) Haneen Zoabi of the Tajammu’/Balad Party from participating in the upcoming March 17 General Elections in a vote taken February 12. The CEC vote to disqualify Zoabi was by a wide margin of 27 votes to 6, reflecting a new and dangerous trend in Israel of growing extremism and racial and religious hatred.
The CEC (Va’adet HaBehirot HaMerkazit) was founded in 1969 to weed out non-Jews from seeking election, despite Israel’s shallow claim that it is a “Democracy” and that all of its citizens are “equal” regardless of their race or religion.
In fact, non-Jews make up 25 percent of Israel’s population of just under 8 million people accounting for about 2 million mainly Christian and Muslim Palestinians who Israel’s Haganah and Irgnu Zvi Luehmi were unable to forcibly eject during the military occupation of Palestine in 1947, one year prior to Israel declaring its independence and Arab nations rallying to try to block the land theft in May 1948.
In 1985, the CEC was given the power to ban any political group that challenges the foreign policy of the State of Israel or criticizes it in a manner that rightwing Jews would describe as “begating” the right of Israel to exist, a broad term that has been used to describe any and all criticism of Israel over the years.
Since then, the CEC has banned many Arab organizations from running in office and one Jewish organization headed by the only person in Israel to declare himself a terrorist, Mair Kahane, the head of the Jewish Defense League and the “Kach” Party which was founded on the killing of non-Jews.
None of the Arab parties banned by the CEC have risen even close to that level of professed violence but have and continue to harshly challenge and criticize Israeli government policies and laws in Israel which openly embrace Apartehid-like discrimination against Israel’s growing non-Jewish citizens.
Haneen Zoabi has been one of the most popular and outspoken members of the small number of Arab Israeli citizens who have been elected to the Knesset, often challenging and criticizing Israel’s racist policies.
The CEC’s decision reflected the growing extremism and fanaticism that is consuming Israel’s society and government, which is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is described by many international legal scholars as a “war criminal” for his militaristic conduct and murder of civilians during three wars in Gaza going back to 2008.
The CEC Consists of Jewish members of the Knesset and one member of the Israeli Supreme Court.
The Israeli Supreme Court on Wednesday voted 8 to 1 to reverse the CEC’s political ruling against Zoabi and ordered her candidacy reinstated.
Adalah’s General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen, who represented MK Zoabi, commented on the ruling:
“The gap between the discourse of the CEC, which incites and portrays Arab MKs as supporters of terrorism, and the decisions of the Supreme Court, which repeatedly cancel the disqualification motions by an overwhelming majority, demonstrates the improper motives of the Committee. The decisions of the CEC are not only harming the Arab political parties and candidates, but are also violating the basic rights of Arab citizens of Israel, namely their rights to political participation, freedom of expression, equality and dignity,” Jabareen said.
“Since 2003, Adalah has represented Arab political parties and MKs against disqualification motions approved by the CEC. This is a process that exists solely to subject the Arab minority to the authority and monitoring of the Jewish majority, which perpetuates the delegitimization of Arabs citizens of Israel. It is time to strip the CEC of this authority and transfer it to the courts.”
Last year, in an effort to block non-Jews from participating in the Knesset, the Jewish majority adopted a new law that increases the “minimal required vote” that a party must receive in order to qualify for any seats on the Knesset. The only way to overcome this new Israeli Apartheid-hurdle was for the Arab parties to consolidate into one Party List on Jan. 22, 2015 called “The Joint Arab List.”
Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. He began writing in 1975 publishing The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues as Special US Correspondent for the Arab News ArabNews.com, at TheArabDailyNews.com, and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday, the Orlando Sentinel, Houston Chronical, and Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
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