Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Why Israel Suspended The Three Balad MK's For Visiting The Families of Palestinian Terrorists

"After prophecy and righteousness there is no status Allah has exalted more than Shahada (Martyrdom)... ''And think not of those who have been killed in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.'
...'The Shahid - his sins are forgiven with the first gush of his blood from his wound... The Shahid advocates on behalf of 70 members of his family, and saves them all from hell. The Shahid lives together with the prophets and the righteous ones.'"
[Official PA TV, Nov. 8, 2013]

Yesterday, in light of the possibility of punitive action against 3 Arab MK's who visited parents of Palestinian Terrorists, I posted about the question Are These Israeli Arab MK's No Less Deserving of Expulsion Than If They Were Congressmen?

Today, a decision was reached by the Knesset Ethics Committee to take action as Knesset Suspends Arab MKs for Meeting Palestinian Terrorists’ Families. Of the 3 members of the Balad Party, Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas were suspended for 4 months and Jamal Zahalka for 2 months. While they are banned from participating in Knesset committee meetings and plenum discussions, they will be allowed to vote in them.

Hanin Zoabi, Basel Ghattas and Jamal Zahalka -- suspended for their meeting
with parents of Palestinian terrorists. Credit: Yonatan Sindel, Flash90

The Balad Party is part of the Joint Arab List, which condemned the suspension as ‘miserable, anti-democratic’, accusing Netanyahu of a "campaign of incitement"

Somehow, however, the 3 MK's neglected to address their own incitement of hatred and terrorism. the Balad MK's deny that their visit to the families was a show of support:
Zahalka claimed the visit was not a show of support for the families. He said that he and the other MKs condemned the violence committed by the dead assailants. “We went to hear from the families about the issues of transferring the bodies. That’s it. There was nothing else in this visit.”

Asked why the MKs had observed a minute of silence at the meeting on Tuesday in memory of the dead killers, Zahalka said many meetings among Palestinians begin with a minute of silence “in memory of all Palestinian dead” and that the lawmakers were not honoring the terrorists themselves. “We stood in silence for a minute,” he said. He denied a report that the MKs had called the dead terrorists “martyrs.”
Itamar Marcus of the Palestinian Media Watch presented documentation to the Ethics committee that contradicted Zahalka's claim that they did not call the terrorists "Shahids"- Martyrs. In addition to the Balad Party and Ghattas calling the terrorist murderers "Shahids," the Joint Arab List did so as well, with a post on its Facebook page that referred to the murderers as "Shahids" three times.

There is more than an emotional issue here -- their use of the word "Shahid" touches upon a point of law involved as well.
This may prove to be very significant, since the very act of calling terrorist murderers "Shahids" actually fulfills one of the requirements of a criminal offense. Assistant Attorney General Ron Nizri, also at the Knesset session, referred to Israeli law, explaining that in order for a person's action to be a criminal offense of incitement, it needs to meet two conditions:
  1. There must be call to commit acts of violence or terror, or praise or glorification of an act of violence or terror
  2. There must be a real possibility that what is said will lead to the perpetration of an act of violence or terror
Using the term "Shahid" for a terrorist fulfills the first demand of the law: "praise or glorification of an act of violence or terror."
Here are the references from Facebook:

Joint Arab List calls terrorist murderers term of highest honor - "Shahid":
"The Joint [Arab] List condemned the wild and racist incitement campaign against Balad Party legislators as a result of their national and humanitarian attention to the issue of the
Shahids' bodies being held by the Israeli government. The Joint List stated that the fascist incitement campaign against the Balad delegates Jamal Zahalka, Hanin Zoabi, and Basel Ghattas is not only a hasty response shrouded in emotions and nationalist and racist tendencies, but also a pitiful attempt by the occupation government to hide the crime of holding the bodies... It noted that it is important to increase the official and non-governmental efforts to release the Shahids' bodies.

The Joint List noted that in everything connected to the Shahids' bodies, Israel is violating international law and the conventions, treaties, and norms of human rights, which emphasize the need to honor the dead and to consider rituals of their religion during burial, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention."
[Joint Arab List Facebook page, Feb. 6, 2016]

Arab MP Basel Ghattas calls terrorist murderers term of highest honor - "Shahid":
"I say to all the hesitating [Israeli Arabs], or the embarrassed, or all of those who have begun to be scared so that according to what they say they were confused and began to make apparent criticisms such as: 'better to be smart than right,' or direct criticisms such as 'What do we have to do with the return of the bodies' and 'The meeting with the Shahids' families was a mistake': The day we begin to refrain from meeting with the Shahids' families to help them regain their sons' bodies due to fear of the Israeli racist incitement campaigns, we become politically, morally, and humanly unacceptable, and will lose our right to represent the people and lead them. We in [the] Balad Party are good at connecting our citizens' rights, for which we work day and night, and our national rights, as an indigenous group. We will not give up one bit of our honor, [national] affiliation, and identity for crumbs that some people who are deluding themselves dream of achieving."
[Balad Facebook page, Feb. 6, 2016]

In an interview with Channel 2 News on Israeli TV, one of the points Itamar Marcus emphasized is that there was no attempt by Balad to maintain any sort of balance, project any sort of sympathy with the victims of the terrorist attacks:

While the Ballad MK's were not accused of actual incitement of terrorism, their clear and one-sided sympathy for the families of the perpetrators was provocative.

While the Joint List noted that "it is important to emphasize that burying the dead is a human and religious commandment in the three religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity" -- it is unfortunate that they neglected to mention that "Thou Shalt Not Kill" is a commandment as well.

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