Haneen Zoabi Helps Forge Israel’s National Renewal
Without the mirror that the Arab legislator puts in front of us, there’s no chance for the national rehabilitation that every occupying and dispossessing power needs.
A certain country – a regional power by any measure and the close ally of the most powerful country on earth – occupies the land of a neighboring nation in violation of international law, denies the people their civil rights and deprives them of their national freedom. That same nation, as befits a nation that loves life, refuses to accept this bondage and instead resists with all the meager resources at its disposal, including violent and murderous means.
The occupying power, which refuses to relinquish the privileges that come with preserving the status quo, deploys various methods of repression against the occupied nation, including enclosing part of it in a narrow, suffocating coastal strip that becomes infamous as the world’s largest and most crowded prison.
In an act of solidarity with the imprisoned part of that nation, people in a nearby country organize a flotilla as a protest against the occupying power, seeking to breach, if only symbolically, the blockade on the oppressed coastal enclave. During the interception of the flotilla by the prison-guard army, the passengers on one ship resist boldly and violently, and during the clash some of them are killed.
Would it be totally absurd to describe the prison-guard army’s soldiers as “murderers,” as MK Haneen Zoabi, while addressing the Knesset, called the Israeli soldiers who in 2010 killed nine Turkish citizens on the Mavi Marmara?
There’s no doubt that the naval commandos, who apparently weren’t expecting the powerful resistance they encountered on the ship, felt that their lives were in danger and thus opened fire. But can one seriously defend as “self-defense” the shooting of civilians while maintaining the effectiveness of the brutal and illegal repression of an entire people?
What’s more, the violent rule over millions of people while depriving them of their right to national self-determination, of which the blockade of Gaza is a key component, is itself the premeditated murder of the Palestinian national “personality.”
This act of symbolic national murder, which has been taking place daily for nearly 50 years and is becoming increasingly brutal, given the Palestinians’ intensifying resistance to the erasure of their national existence, is generating more and more murderous violence on both sides, as well as the barbarization of the Israel Defense Forces. The assault on a civilian protest flotilla and the shooting of the wounded terrorist in Hebron are milestones in this shameful process.
However, I must admit that as a Jew, an Israeli and a Zionist, I have a hard time with the equation Israeli soldiers = murderers, nor can I even say it to myself because the pain in such an admission is too much to bear. At the same time, similar to Israeli opponents of the occupation who don’t buy the post-national nonsense, it’s no less hard and painful for me to accept that being a Jew, an Israeli and a Zionist nowadays partly means closing my eyes to IDF actions that are all but impossible to define as anything but war crimes.
Here lies the role of the Palestinian MKs, and particularly of Zoabi, because when she tells us “Israeli soldiers are murderers,” she’s putting in front of us a mirror that no national collective has the power to put in front of itself. And without this mirror, there is no way to advance any process of national rehabilitation that every occupying and dispossessing power must undergo to remain a member of the family of free nations.
So there’s a reason to thank Haneen Zoabi for her sharp and forthright remarks, which have contributed to advancing this rehabilitation in Israeli society.