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Haneen Zoabi’s power and vision (and answers to Theodore)

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For years I have known that no understanding of the conflict would be complete without seeing the Palestinian politician Haneen Zoabi in action, but it was not till last Friday, when the embattled member of the Israeli Knesset came to New York University and spoke to a room of 300 people as a guest of the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, that I had that privilege. Zoabi’s performance was staggering. She is now on tour in the U.S.; and if you have any chance to see and hear her, you should.

In fact, as Zoabi spoke– a woman of small stature but majestic spirit and political intelligence, exercising complete control over the crowd, even over her opponents holding the Israeli flag at the back of the room and over Theodore the student from Stuyvesant High School in the third row who rose to challenge her — I kept wondering why the New York Times has not run a huge profile of this woman, why my president and congresspeople are not meeting her, why she does not have the status that she ought to have in our discourse as a global justice figure, along the lines of a Havel, a Walesa, a Martin Luther King, a John Lewis, an Aung San Suu Kyi. And the answer of course is, Because she is Palestinian.

[Watch her entering the hall, to applause, in the video below]

And I say this without being smitten by her. Zoabi is a strong character who in taking control of the room could be a bit imperious–ignoring questions she didn’t like (about the Iran deal, for instance) and dismissing out of hand the idea that African migrants could contribute to the Palestinian struggle. There was nothing warm and fuzzy about her, though like other great speakers she is quite funny. But whether you like her or not is not the point, as Zoabi said again and again, speaking of Palestinians. You don’t have to love us or even like us, she said, but you must treat us as human beings with full human rights.

And when Theodore rose to object that she had not answered his second question– how will the people live together? she softened for a moment and stepped toward him in a gentle way.

“How we can live together? Theodore– I have spoken for one and a half hour trying to answer this question. Justice.”

The theme of the speech was democracy. Every point that Zoabi made about Israeli society and Zionist history and the Palestinian struggle was tied into the issue, what does Israeli democracy mean? She pointed to the group with the big flag at the back of the room:

“What makes those people so proud about their racism? It is their stupid belief that Israel is a democracy.”

But the challenge for Palestinians is that Israel is seen as a democracy; and Haneen Zoabi’s speech was aimed at changing that image.

And since you will not be reading about it in the New York Times or seeing her on Charlie Rose, let me quote a few of her riffs. Because Zoabi spoke without notes, and often went on soaring thermals.

On the struggle:

I am not the exception. It would be a catastrophe if I am the exception. I represent every Palestinian woman and man who is for justice not because he is a Palestinian but because first of all he is a human being, she is a human being, and it is part of our humanity, part of our self-dignity to protest against injustice….

We are not better than other people in the world. But we are not worse than other people in the world. We are not less than other people in the world. And we will not agree to give others advantages in our homeland. We still live in our homeland, as Palestinians…

The historical roots of the struggle are between us and Zionism. Not between us and the Jews. The Jews are not our enemy– of course! We are not fighting against a human being, we are fighting against racism.

On the nature of Israeli government and political identity:

This is the only meaning of democracy in Israel– the tyranny of the majority. We allow you, we the masters– allow you to be elected in the Knesset, we allow you the freedom of expression. We stole your homeland– but we allow you to scream.
We stole everything from you, now we want to make you Arab Israelis. You are not 100 percent Arab, and of course not at all Palestinian and not 100 percent Israeli, because Israel is a Jewish state and in order to be 100 percent Israeli, you must be a Jew. And I am not. So you are in the middle, with a distorted identity. This is the meaning of democracy in Israel. Democracy is the rule of the majority…and if we have a majority in the Knesset, so any law that we pass is part of the democracy. And in Israel there is 50 laws in every theme of llife that you can imagine, which discriminate against us.

On Israel’s legal separation of Palestinian families.

Anyone can be tomorrow a citizen of Israel– except the Palestinians. Anyone! The Palestinians cannot be. Even the second generation, who their fathers, their parents left their home, they have a key and they have family [in the country], they cannot return. No family unification– and that a basic law which all the countries respect. …
If I am a Palestinian—and I am a Palestinian– if I want to marry a Palestinian from Ramallah, from Jordan, from anywhere in the world, I cannot live with him in Nazareth, inside ’48, inside Israel. I cannot live with him! I must leave the country, because Israel doesn’t guarantee family reunification with a Palestinian from the refugees camp or from the enemies’ state. Even family unification.

On the Nakba:

And this project of evacuating my homeland from the Palestinians is still ongoing. The Nakba is not an event in the past. What happened in 1948, some think that they didn’t complete the mission in 1948, they must still control what is happening– not as a state but as an ideological project. In fact, someone said that Israel is a tool in the hands of the Zionist project.

On the frequent argument that she is better off in Israel than in a neighboring Arab state:

Israel cannot compare my life with the life of the Syrians and Egyptians and say Look, in a very superior and arrogant way, look– you live in better conditions than the Arab world. This is what we hear, everyday. So– OK, you want to compare yourself to the dictatorship states? OK. But Syria didn’t claim that she is a democracy, and we never heard Egypt or any Arab state claim that it is a democracy. OK, tell everybody! Halas, we are satisfied, we are satisfied. If you reach the conclusion that you are a dictatorship, then our struggle will be so easier. Tell everyone that you are a dictatorship.
But whenever it comes to me, they want to compare us to the Syrians, the Jordanians, and the Egyptians.

But when they want to talk to the US and the Europeans about the democracy, they compare themselves to the British, the Americans, the Germans.

On the Palestinian economy and the absence of any Palestinian university inside Israel:

We are 18 percent of the Israeli society. We are 10 percent of the governmental position, we are 10 percent in the universities, we are 2 percent in the private sector, we are less than ½ percent in the high-tech sector. We are marginalized in every sector. Israel doesn’t permit the development of a Palestinian economy. We don’t have Palestinian banks, we don’t have Palestinian insurance company.

We are not allowed to have a Palestinian university– we are 1 million, 200 thousand– 18 percent of the society! Israel doesn’t allow us to develop our Palestinian economy…  and neither to be involved equally in the Israeli economy. We are in the margins of the Israeli economy.

Here’s the most extended riff, which includes her vision and consideration of one-state/two state:

The problem is not occupation, the problem now is worse, the problem is, How easy it become [for Israelis] to occupy the Palestinians. And you know, for those who have a daily conversation with the Jewish Israeli– and we live with each other– we have a vision to stay and live with each other. And we need to stress this. We don’t want to throw anyone in the sea! No! We suggest when we say equality it is equality with you, this is to recognize you.

When we say equality, this means to recognize your rights: you has been born here. We don’t give legitimacy to the Zionist project, but we have the ability, the human values, to live with equal, with very equal, civic and national rights with the Jews, in our homeland.

Now this is my party vision, which become a consensus regarding the Palestinian side: a state for all of its citizens. A neutral state. So all the citizens with full equality and a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza strip and the right of return of the refugee.

Yanni, for me it’s not a practical question, whether we are talking about two state or one state. But two states– not a Zionist state one of them. Two states, I mean a Palestinian state and a neutral democratic state. Now it is so academic to raise the question about one state or two state– for us. What is more important is values of equality, values of justice.

Some say that it is not practical to talk about one state– first of all we must talk about ending the occupation. I agree with this. I agree that I don’t like this question of one state or two state. Ending the suffering of Palestinian people, ending occupation now!

And there is no way to end occupation as long as Israel doesn’t pay the price of occupation and Israel doesn’t pay the price of occupation, Israel just enjoys occupation.

On Israeli racism:

Fifty rabbis in 2010 has published a letter, not to rent houses for Arabs! … It was so, yanni, usual– not unusual to have this letter. Now imagine that 50 priests has published a letter not to rent houses to the Jews. Close your eyes and imagine. You cannot imagine this– in any country! This happened in Israel, and without a lot of yanni, debate.

During the Q and A, there were some good questions.

Do you condemn Hamas also as a racist ideology? was one. Zoabi:

No I don’t. I don’t. We don’t as Palestinians define our national movements as terrorist movements, nor as racist movements. They are part of our national struggle.

And here is an answer addressing two questions. Theodore asked her about Muhammad Zoabi, a cousin of hers who has vocally defended Zionism, and a woman asked about whether Palestinians shouldn’t boycott the Israeli elections because they are used as symbols of democracy.

Israel wants Muhammad– my nephew, he wants to be famous, so he says he is Zoabi, OK– so Israeli Knesset wants Muhammad and those [in the audience] who claps to Muhammad, this is their example the distortion of nationality, the distortion of history: they want an inferior Arab. They want an Arab without identity, without dignity– yes this is the Arabs they want, these are the good Arabs.
You find, Theodore, you find in any society people who want to identity themselves with the oppressor. There is always those who cannot struggle with the oppression. So the only way they choose for themselves is to identify with the oppressor…
It is, yanni, a normal phenomenon and you are talking about the exception of the exception of the exception. Also you can find the Palestinians who serve in the Israeli army. You can find that! Half of them they will say it is for economic reasons. This is an indication of weakness.
Even those who serve in the army, we cannot give up addressing them and trying to convince them, to raise political awareness. This is our role. It is not a symbolic role: to have a Palestinian national voice inside the Knesset, to be vocal, to give the victim voice. It is not by accident that five Palestinians from within Israel has participated in Marmara, Freedom flotilla. But they have targeted the Knesset member.

Because you call it symbolic, but I call it concrete. This concrete and very practical power, that when you represent your people, when you represent your history, when you mediate, make national mediation between the Palestinian citizen and the state, then you contribute more to your struggle, you become more visible to your people as a Knesset member and you become more visible to those outside Israel. So no it is not symbolic. Otherwise, if you were not in the Knesset, then the address for Palestinians would be people like Muhammad and Zuheir Bahloul in the Labor party.

On supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and boycotting Israel. “You would boycott all Israelis, including yourself?”

Including myself.

I hope I have gotten some of Zoabi’s power across to readers, and to Americans. This commanding, charismatic figure wants one thing, democracy, and would accept it even in a two-state paradigm. While she refused to rule out violent resistance, this is clearly not her way now; and we should honor her struggle any way that we can, as we honored the civil rights movement in our country, so that the passage out of this conflict is as nonviolent as it can possibly be.


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97 Responses

  1. Rosebud
    April 29, 2015, 1:12 pm

    Can anyone post a link to a schedule of Ms. Zoabi’s upcoming speaking engagements? It would be greatly appreciated!

    • ziusudra
      April 30, 2015, 3:40 am

      Greetings MW,
      Thank you for bringing on the perspectives of one of theirs. Hope to see more in the future of their side of the issues.
      PS Equal Forum.

  2. DaBakr
    April 29, 2015, 1:31 pm

    I find it interesting that PW is so enamoured with the speaker and her extreme Palestinian nationalist identification and the way she portrays her nephew. His own views on nationalism and identity are quite different. Almost, ‘be what I say, not what I do’

    • amigo
      April 29, 2015, 3:35 pm

      “I find it interesting that PW is so enamoured with the speaker and her extreme Palestinian nationalist identification -” dabakr

      You mean like your extreme Israeli (or is that Jewish) nationalist identification.You who supports land theft.You who supports arrest and torture of children.You who does not speak out against the spaying of skunk juice on Palestinian homes and schools.You who does not condemn the kahanist groupies who parade around the streets of TA brandishing signs of hatred and screaming death to Arabs.

      You sir are not fit to lick the soles of that womans shoes.

    • RoHa
      April 29, 2015, 8:10 pm

      “His own views on nationalism and identity are quite different.”

      Could you clarify what you mean, please? It seems to me that PW firmly regards himself as an American, and sees nothing wrong with Americans being loyal to America.

    • DaBakr
      April 29, 2015, 8:40 pm


      no amgo. like PW is so ANTI-nationalist and seems to abhor the concept of Jewish nationalism while fawning all over extreme Palestinian nationalists. I have no problem with her nationalism just as Jews are entitled to have nationalistic aspirations and allegiances as well. I am sure that Palestinians in America are as ‘loyal’ (or have as much dual loyalty) to Palestine as American Jews have for Israel.

      And as far as licking someones shoes…that must be your neurotic obsession as it wouldn’t even occur to me. I have enough respect for Zoabi as a member of parliament as I need and do not have any extra as I am sure she would not have for my family. I do not find her “imperious” attitude that PW is so in love with as attractive and afaik -one of the things you anti-Zionists here can’t stand about Israelis is their own imperious personalities. Welcome to the ME. Finger wagging is an obsession among Arabs as well as many Jews..

      • RoHa
        April 29, 2015, 11:08 pm

        Israeli nationalism makes sense. Israel is a nation.
        Palestine is a nation (though one occupied by another power.) Palestinian nationalism makes sense.
        PW is an American. America is a nation, so PW’s American nationalism makes sense.
        Jews are not a nation, so Jewish nationalism does not make sense.

      • amigo
        April 30, 2015, 3:45 am

        “one of the things you anti-Zionists here can’t stand about Israelis is their own imperious personalities.” dabakr

        Imperious def.

        “arrogant and domineering.

        synonyms: peremptory, high-handed, commanding, imperial, overbearing, overweening, domineering, authoritarian, dictatorial, authoritative, lordly, officious, assertive, dominating, bullish, forceful, bossy, arrogant; “.

        You nailed the zionist pysche right there.Zoabi does not in anyway come across as imperious unless maybe to some one who views the truth as imperious.

        Btw, you are oscillating from Jews to Israelis again??.

      • CigarGod
        April 30, 2015, 9:14 am

        So, she isn’t properly subservient enough for you?
        When was the last time you condemned a Zionist man?

      • Mooser
        April 30, 2015, 9:05 pm

        “Jews are not a nation, so Jewish nationalism does not make sense.”

        But don’t you see, RoHa, we almost made it! Why, if Jews were squeezed between the Zionists, and their plans, and the genocidal anti-semitism which plagued the 20 Century had only kept up a few more years. But those stupid Gentiles let the Zionists down. As usual. That’s how they are. You think you’ve got a deal, to have the world’s Jews forced into your hands, it’s looking good, and then, boom they crap out on you.

      • DaBakr
        April 30, 2015, 9:32 pm

        @ all three above.

        It is PW who described Zoabi as “imperious” not I. So take your complaints to the owner of this site.

        [email protected]
        your own personal description of Jews as “not a nation” is not only ignorant but probably deeply offensive to millions of Jews who do consider themselves every bit a nation. I don’t suppose you approve of people who say the Pal;estinians are not a ‘real’ nation either. Both are equally absurd. It is not even worthy of being entertained as a serious comment. You ar certainly entitled to spout off anything you like but you can not tell a nation of people who identify for 100s of years as such they are not a nation.

        I did not condemn Zoabi . Quite the opposite. Your projecting…again. Man.

      • RoHa
        April 30, 2015, 11:17 pm

        “your own personal description of Jews as “not a nation” is not only ignorant but probably deeply offensive to millions of Jews who do consider themselves every bit a nation. ”

        I don’t care if they are offended when I say they are wrong. Choosing to be offended is their business, not mine.

        I have argued several times that the Jews are not a nation in either the nineteenth century sense and not a nation in the modern sense. Check my profile for the arguments, and let me know where I have gone wrong.

        “I don’t suppose you approve of people who say the Palestinians are not a ‘real’ nation either.”

        Actually, I do not think of it as important. Their rights do not depend on any putative “nationhood”.

        I do not normally think of groups of people as “nations”. Old-fashioned I may be, but I have got past that bit of nineteenth century thinking.

        That said, since the Palestinians inhabited a single contiguous territory, used a single language, and had a common culture, I would say they were more a nineteenth century “nation” than the Jews were or are.

        But I don’t think it matters. I do not think “nations” in that sense are of any moral importance. It is nations in the modern sense that are important.

        ” you can not tell a nation of people who identify for 100s of years as such they are not a nation.”

        Why not? I tell them they have been wrong about God for hundreds of years. I can tell them they have been wrong about other things as well.

      • socialconscience
        May 1, 2015, 1:09 am

        DaBakr your comparison between the Jews calling themselves a nation and the Palestinans calling themselves a nation and to assert that it is ignorant and offensive to deny Jewish nationalism is hypocrisy at best

        There is a fundamental difference which you have failed to note:

        One ‘nation’ has actively genocided the other for decades and the other has not…can there be any reasonable denial of this?

      • bryan
        May 1, 2015, 7:18 am

        Also @DB, “your own personal description of Jews as “a nation” is not only ignorant but probably deeply offensive to millions of Jews who do consider themselves American Jews, British Jews, French Jews, Australian Jews, Iranian Jews etc., etc., and even Israeli Jews, not to mention many millions whose primary association as Jews is based on history, culture and religion, but most especially upon an uncompromising ethical system which the so-called “Jewish nation” violates with every passing day.

      • Citizen
        May 1, 2015, 9:53 am

        nation |ˈnāSHən|
        a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory:

    • bryan
      April 30, 2015, 2:58 am

      Nationalism is not an ideal worthy of adoration – it is merely a phase that societies go through in the course of their evolution, until they mature into something better, just as adolescents go through phases where they often experiment with drugs and promiscuous sex, join gangs, get tattoos, wear outrageous clothes, listen to bad and very noisy music, before they settle down to live more satisfying lives. The expansive French nationalism of the late eighteenth century, the British jingoism of the nineteenth century, the Germany and Japanese nationalism of the early twentieth century, and the Zionist nationalism so essential to the creation of a state, are all examples. But once the national consciousness has been developed, once the state has been built, and enjoyed its youthful excesses it is time to move on to something better. Time now for Israelis to transcend their oafish and truculent nationalism, and join the community of nations, accepting others as equals. And hopefully their will soon be the time and opportunity for Palestinians to do likewise. But please don’t suggest that nationalism is something worthy or admirable in the longer course of history.

      • Scandipope
        May 4, 2015, 7:45 am

        @ Bryan.

        Unfortunately however, Palestinians maturing from nationalism is further away than ever. If anything Palestinian society seems to be turning the other way, towards insulation, nationalism, religious fanaticism and liberal values.

        In the 70ies you still had groups like PFLP which not only had female operatives and at least attempted to have a truly progressive outlook on things like feminism and the patriarchy.

        Today PFLP exists primarily in name. And much progress on social issues have been lost outside of Ramallah. An acquaintance of mine worked as a volunteer teacher in one of the refugee camps near Nablus. One time one of the braver kids asked her why she didn’t have children herself. Was she sick? Because these kids have never encountered a woman in her twenties who wasn’t married and didn’t have children, except for when some physical malady had left her barren and unmarried.

        Before the wall came up, it wasn’t unusual that Palestinians in the territories worked in Israel or went there for shopping.

        One of the few fun memories I have from Gaza was a middle aged man who entertained me with stories of how he used to go drinking and partying inside Israel when he was younger.

        Today? Since the wall came up and the second intifada, a whole generation have grown up, who have never been outside of Gaza. In ten or twenty years you may still be able to find somebody in Gaza adventurous or irreligious enough to flaunt the prohibition against alcohol.

        But you’ll probably have a better chance of finding somebody who’ve been on the moon, than a Gazan who’ve been in Israel for a casual day trip. Its not that they’re completely cut off from the world. Theyre as much on Facebook and cellphones as anybody. You can get (smuggled)!iPhones and Big Macs no problem.

        But those kinda of casual, physical contacts with the outside world don’t take place anymore, and that doesnt exactly encourage more liberal values.

      • Mooser
        May 4, 2015, 12:16 pm

        Scandipope, what a load of BS. Insulting.

        I see, it’s all the Palestinians fault. Sure, okay.

  3. ritzl
    April 29, 2015, 1:49 pm

    Great article.

    Is there a schedule of her appearances somewhere?

  4. pabelmont
    April 29, 2015, 1:56 pm

    She is so brave, yanni. As to Zionism, halas! She is filled to overflowing with the dignity of accepting all human beings and denouncing all tyranny and racism (even when they are sometimes called “democracy”).

  5. Ira Glunts
    April 29, 2015, 2:00 pm

    Here is a video of a talk Haneen Zoabi gave at the Palestinian Center in Washington, DC. It was on April 27, according to the Center’s website.

  6. Peter Feld
    April 29, 2015, 2:18 pm

    This is a great summary, I was lucky to be there. Zoabi doesn’t make it easy for her audience–even supporters–and she doesn’t need to. What she does isn’t easy. Almost literally she is Daniel in the lion’s den, walking into the nerve center of the occupation, the Israeli Knesset. (Talk about a hostile work environment.) She makes herself the ultimate target because her very person (as she pointed out) illustrates the self-contradiction in Israel’s claim of an equal, democratic society. That’s where her power comes from. She is a real threat to the ethnocracy.

  7. eljay
    April 29, 2015, 2:39 pm

    Haneen Zoabi: … for me it’s not a practical question, whether we are talking about two state or one state. But two states– not a Zionist state one of them. Two states, I mean a Palestinian state and a neutral democratic state.

    Two states – both of them neutral democratic states of and for all of their respective citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally. Yes.

    What is more important is values of equality, values of justice.

    Equality and justice: Two things you will never see/hear Zio-supremacists advocating.

  8. irishmoses
    April 29, 2015, 3:32 pm

    Who is sponsoring her tour and what is her schedule/calendar?

  9. jon s
    April 29, 2015, 4:51 pm

    MK Zoabi is apparently not that popular among Palestinian Israelis. When she ran for mayor of Nazareth in 2013, she received just 10% of the vote.

    Note that this is what she says about two states:

    “Two states, I mean a Palestinian state and a neutral democratic state. ”

    In other words, the Palestinians can have a state, but not the Jews.

    • Bumblebye
      April 29, 2015, 6:13 pm

      Yes, that’s right jonny! The Palestinians can have a state and the *Israelis* can have a state! Not one each for Jews, Muslims, Christians and whatever other faith groups exist. Simple, innit?

    • eljay
      April 29, 2015, 6:53 pm

      || jon s: Note that this is what she says about two states:
      “Two states, I mean a Palestinian state and a neutral democratic state. ”
      In other words, the Palestinians can have a state, but not the Jews. ||

      The Palestinians can have a secular and democratic state of and for all citizens of, immigrants to and expats and refugees from the geographic region comprising a Palestinian state; a state with full and equal rights for everyone. It makes sense for Ms. Zoabi to advocate a Palestinian state.

      “The Jews” (which is to say, the Zio-supremacists) want a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel; a state primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews; a state with less/different rights for non-Jewish Israelis; a state that, among other things, denies its non-Jewish refugees the right to return to their homes and lands. It makes no sense for Ms. Zoabi to advocate a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • jon s
        April 30, 2015, 2:53 pm

        Bumblebye, Eljay,

        The Palestinian state will be Islamic.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        April 30, 2015, 4:06 pm

        @jon s

        Read the 2003 draft constitution. Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Respect and sanctity of all other heavenly religions shall be maintained. [I assume this means Christianity and Judaism.]
        The principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.
        The governing system in Palestine shall be a democratic parliamentary system based on political and party pluralism.
        All Palestinians are equal under the law and judiciary without discrimination because of race, sex, color, religion, political views, or disability.

        i.e Islamic and Democratic

      • eljay
        April 30, 2015, 3:04 pm

        || jon s: Bumblebye, Eljay, The Palestinian state will be Islamic. ||

        A future Palestinian state might be Islamic…but it might not.

        The existing Israeli state is Jewish supremacist (and colonialist and expansionist and oppressive) and shows no sign of changing.

        IOW: Let the criminal continue with his crimes, but abort the fetus you think might one day become a criminal. Interesting.

      • just
        April 30, 2015, 3:58 pm

        You know this how?

      • echinococcus
        April 30, 2015, 6:05 pm

        Of course the comedy “constitution” of the “state” (yarright) of the Israeli puppet administration will have a state religion, too! These clowns are, let’s repeat it because not many seem to get it, no different than a Pétain or Quisling or a Ngo Dinh Diem government. As for Gaza, it so happens that the religious zealots are the only ones left standing by the continuous genocide and collaboration who are serious about resisting.
        The call to a secular, democratic state for citizens to be decided by the Palestinian people will necessarily require getting rid of the collaborator administration, along with their Israeli masters.

    • Mooser
      April 30, 2015, 9:11 pm

      “In other words, the Palestinians can have a state, but not the Jews.”

      Because practicing Judaism requires the involvement or the force of the state to impose it? A State Judaism. Of course, you won’t be there to endure it, will you”Jon s”. You like it better here.

  10. RoHa
    April 29, 2015, 8:16 pm

    The more I hear of Zoabi, the more I admire her. She should tour Europe from Dublin to Moscow. The press there will be slightly less hostile.
    And then perhaps a tour round Asia. She’d get respectful hearings in China, Japan, and Korea, and be feted in Malaysia and Indonesia.

    • jon s
      April 30, 2015, 4:39 pm

      As the Palestinian draft constitution says , and Dr. Fincham confirms, Islam will be the official religion.
      See here, Article (5):

      • just
        April 30, 2015, 4:58 pm

        Yes, I read that. And as he wrote, it will be Islamic and Democratic. Thank you.

      • eljay
        April 30, 2015, 5:20 pm

        || jon s: link to ||

        Chapter One: General Foundations of the State
        . . .
        Article (2)
        … The Palestinian people are part of the Arab and Islamic nations. …

        . . .

        Article (5)
        Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion in Palestine. …

        . . .

        Article (7)
        The principles of the Islamic shari`a are a main source for legislation. …

        I disagree with, object to and condemn each of these points. The Palestinian people – that is, the people of a Palestinian state – should not be part of an Islamic nation. Palestine should not have an “official religion”. And Sharia should not be the “main source for legislation”.

        None of this, however, absolves Israel of its past and on-going (war) crimes, and none of it is justification for Israel to continue to exist as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”.

      • Kris
        April 30, 2015, 6:14 pm

        @jon s: “Islam will be the official religion.”

        So? The constitution gives equality to everyone. Unlike in the “Jewish” state, where Jews are privileged above everyone else.

        Article (5)
        Arabic is the official language and Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Christianity and all other monotheistic religions are accorded sanctity and respect. The constitution guarantees equality in rights and duties to all citizens irrespective of their religious creed.

        Article (6)
        The Palestinian flag, motto, seals, emblems, and national anthem shall be defined by law.

        Article (7)
        The principles of the Islamic shari`a are a main source for legislation. The followers of the monotheistic religions and shall have their personal status and religious affairs organized according to their shari‘as and religious denominations within the framework of [positive] law, while preserving the unity and independence of the Palestinian people.

      • Mooser
        April 30, 2015, 9:13 pm

        “Jon s” is unbelievable! I bet he never, ever shaves.

      • bryan
        May 1, 2015, 7:44 am

        Strange situation we have here – Palestine has a constitution but no state, Israel has a state but no constitution. But lo and behold a solution suggests itself: we’ll have a party; Israel can bring the state, Palestine can bring the constitution, and – abracadabra – we now have a constitutional one state solution. Now that wasn’t difficult was it?

      • Mooser
        May 2, 2015, 3:00 pm

        “Jon s” why on earth do you think that Judaism, the Jewish religion, needs to be imposed by the state? Jews have practiced their religion even when it has been brutally opposed by the reigning powers.
        I have no doubt Jews will continue to practice Judaism in Palestine as long as they are there.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        May 3, 2015, 3:33 am

        And Jews practice their religion in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the teaching of the Quran (as long as their religion is Judaism, and not the false atheistic religion of Zionism).

      • Walid
        May 3, 2015, 5:04 am

        “And Jews practice their religion in the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the teaching of the Quran ” (David Gerald Fincham)

        Would you please explain; the confusing part is in reference to “in accordance with the teachings of the Quran”.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        May 3, 2015, 6:42 am

        Apologies, that wasn’t clear.

        I meant that the Quran encourages Christians and Jews to practice their religion e.g 5:48 “We have assigned a law and a path to each of you. If God had so willed, he would have made you one community, but He wanted to test you through that which He has given you, so race to do good: you will all return to God and He will make clear to you the matters you differed about.”

      • Walid
        May 3, 2015, 6:59 am

        Thanks for the answer, David; makes it clearer now.

  11. Krauss
    April 29, 2015, 11:20 pm

    If you want to expose a liberal Zionist just bring them to debate Zoabi. She is relentless. The mask falls off right away and we’ll get rants like Avi Shavit’s “you’re worse than the Palestinians, you want full democracy” attack on Gideon Levy.

    100% of the “liberal” Zionists support Apartheid but the pressure on them is never so great as to expose it. Zoabi would help in that. I hope she does annual tours in America.

    • jon s
      May 1, 2015, 4:33 pm

      So if Palestine can be Islamic and democratic, Israel can be Jewish and democratic.

      Unlike you , I think it’s up to the Palestinians. If they want an Islamic state, guided by Sharia, it’s their call, non of my business. So I’m not going to condemn- or support – whatever regime they install . What does concern me is how the Palestinian state will live in peace with Israel.

      • just
        May 1, 2015, 4:46 pm

        But Israel is NOT democratic~ it’s an appalling apartheid ethnocracy guided by a supremacist ideology called Zionism. (and that’s just for starters!)

      • eljay
        May 1, 2015, 6:45 pm

        || jon s: eljay, Unlike you , I think it’s up to the Palestinians. If they want an Islamic state, guided by Sharia, it’s their call, non of my business. So I’m not going to condemn- or support – whatever regime they install . ||

        As far as shocking revelations go, this one is on par with “the sun rises in the East”. Of course you’re not going to condemn a non-secular and -democratic Palestine, should one come to pass:
        – Such a state would be a boon to you and to Zio-supremacists like you, given your penchant for striving to be better than the worst rather than as good as the best.
        – And, anyway, condemning it would underscore your hypocrisy.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        May 2, 2015, 9:18 am

        @jon s Yes, Israel could be democratic, but it isn’t.

        It has never been a democracy, because when the constituent assembly was convened in 1949 (which turned itself into the first Knesset) the electorate was based on a census of people inside the country, and excluded those Arabs who had left during the fighting, who were still legal residents but were not allowed to return.

  12. Joe Catron
    April 30, 2015, 3:55 am

    Sorry I missed you, Phil! I was in the audience as well, but understand you had to take off quickly. Let’s meet up/do drinks soon?

  13. peter hindrup
    April 30, 2015, 4:03 am

    I had the privilege of hearing Haneen Zoabi in Sydney Australia, on a Friday in the NSW parliament, on the following Sunday at a Palestinian where she spoke in Arabic under a Palestinian flag.
    I was privileged to be able to have a few minutes conversation with her.
    If you can get to one of her engagements, go, ow ever difficult it is to get there!
    In all of my getting to be a reasonably long life I have had little time for politicians — any politician.
    To Haneen I gave my card and my word that if ever she was in need, if there was the slightest chance I could be of assistance, contact me and all of my resources will be extended to you.
    She is one of the most impressive people that I have ever met, perhaps the most impressive.

    • gamal
      April 30, 2015, 8:24 am

      I saw her in Cork city and yes

      “She is one of the most impressive people that I have ever met, perhaps the most impressive”

      Couldn’t agree more.

  14. benedict
    April 30, 2015, 6:02 am

    Zoabi is quit sloppy with the figures.

    The percentage of Arab students learning for a first degree in Israeli institutes of higher learning for the year 2013 is 13.6 percent. Even more significant is the fact that a decade ago the percentage was only 7 percent. Obviously Israel is integrating Arab citizens and encouraging them to acquire academic degrees. Nothing of this is mentioned by zoabi.

    The same with jobs in the government. Currently about 10 percent of government employees are Arab but in the mid 90’s the percentage was about 2.5. The main cause of change is an affirmative action policy that requires government offices to allot 30 percent of their new working staff to Arabs. None of this is mentioned by zoabi either.

    Contrary to her claim there is an Arab Israeli bank. University of Texas is planning to open a branch in Nazareth.

    Contrary to zoabi discrimination of Arabs in education and government is not a reflection of some inherent racism in Israeli society. Zoabi is a demagogue using legitimate minority complaints (that are being addressed by society) to further her own extremist nationalistic ideology.

    • a blah chick
      April 30, 2015, 7:47 am

      The Arab bank is owned by Bank Leumi, so it is not an independent Arab owned bank. And it’s Texas A&M University that is going to open a branch in Nazareth, hardly a first rate institution and not the Arab university most want. This makes me think that the stats you cite are also off.

      “Contrary to zoabi discrimination of Arabs in education and government is not a reflection of some inherent racism in Israeli society”. So what is it a reflection of? That Palestinisn Israelis are too stupid or lazy to enjoy the fruits of Israeli democracy?

      “Zoabi is a demagogue using legitimate minority complaints (that are being addressed by society) to further her own extremist nationalistic ideology.” What, pray tell is so “extremist” about demanding that ALL the citizens of Israel be treated with equality and fairness?

    • just
      April 30, 2015, 8:28 am

      You managed to capitalize her name 2 out of 5 times, and never once write the word Palestinian.

      Then you end with this utter rot:

      “Contrary to zoabi discrimination of Arabs in education and government is not a reflection of some inherent racism in Israeli society. Zoabi is a demagogue using legitimate minority complaints (that are being addressed by society) to further her own extremist nationalistic ideology.”

      Well done, benedict.

    • amigo
      April 30, 2015, 9:35 am

      Benedict, mind supplying at least one source for your claims.

      Otherwise we will have to excommunicate them.

      • benedict
        April 30, 2015, 11:17 am

        and how many sources did zoabi supply?

      • amigo
        April 30, 2015, 4:18 pm

        “and how many sources did zoabi supply?” benedict

        Your the one claiming she is wrong.Show her up and give us your sources.

    • lyn117
      April 30, 2015, 1:44 pm

      Only reference to Israel government employee affirmative action I could find with a quick google search is this one:

      The figure cited is 10% of government jobs allotted to Arabs by Olmert in 2008. Since that’s less than the 20% of the population, it sounds as much like enforced discrimination.

    • Walid
      April 30, 2015, 11:53 pm

      Texas A &M setting up shop in Nazareth has absolutely nothing to do with Palestians. It’s actually a Christian Zionists enterprise involving the Israeli Minister of Education, the master Israeli terrorist Peres, Rick Perry and John Hagee and other illustrious people but no Palestinians whatever; they weren’t even consulted about the project. It’s a gimmick to take over the broke Palestinian Nazareth Academic Institute that Israel is refusing to fund and to bring in more holly-rollers from the US EI had a piece up on it back in 2013:

      There is always something devious in the works when Israel pretends to help the Palestinian population.

      • Walid
        May 1, 2015, 2:20 am

        More on the theft of Paletinian patrimony, Israel isn’t the only one at it. Now we learn that the Americans and Ieaqis are also in on it.

        In 1934, Palestinian poet, Ibrahim Toquan wrote the poem “Mawtini”, and music written by Muhamad Fuleifil which became the de facto national anthem of Palestine that remained in effect until 1967 when the PLO formally adopted a new anthem “Fida’i” that sings about PLO fedayeen and Mowtani was sort of shelved.

        IN 2004 on a specific order from the American Coalition Provisional Chief, Paul Bremmer, Iraq adopted “Mowtini” as the national anthem of Iraq, clearly a theft of Palistinian cultural heritage as the words had been written for Palestine:

        First Verse
        Mawṭinī mawṭinī
        Al-jalālu wa-l-jamālu wa-s-sanā’u wa-l-bahā’u
        Fī rubāk fī rubāk
        Wa-l-ḥayātu wa-n-najātu wal-hanā’u wa-r-rajā’u
        Fī hawāk fī hawāk
        Hal arāk hal arāk
        Sālimān munaʿamān wa ġānimān mukarramān
        Sālimān munaʿamān wa ġānimān mukarramān
        Hal arāk fī ʿulāk
        Tabluġu s-simāk tabluġu s-simāk
        Mawṭinī mawṭinī

        My homeland, my homeland
        Glory and beauty, sublimity and splendor
        Are in your hills, are in your hills
        Life and deliverance, pleasure and hope
        Are in your air, are in your air
        Will I see you? Will I see you?
        Safely comforted and victoriously honored
        Safely comforted and victoriously honored
        Will I see you in your eminence?
        Reaching to the stars, reaching to the stars
        My homeland, my homeland

        Second Verse

        Mawṭinī mawṭinī
        Aš-šabābu lan yakilla hammahu an yastaqilla
        aw yabīd, aw yabid
        Nastaqī mina r-radá wa lan nakūna li-l-ʿidā’
        kālʿabīd, kālʿabīd
        Lā nurīd lā nurīd
        Ḏullanā al-mu’abbada wa ʿayšanā al-munakkada
        Ḏullanā al-mu’abbada wa ʿayšanā al-munakkada
        Lā nurīd bal nuʿīd
        Majdanā t-talīd majdanā t-talīd
        Mawṭinī mawṭinī

        My homeland, my homeland
        The youth will not tire, ’till your independence
        Or they die, Or they die
        We will drink from death, and will not be to our enemies
        Like slaves, like slaves
        We do not want, we do not want
        An eternal humiliation, nor a miserable life
        An eternal humiliation, nor a miserable life
        We do not want, but we will bring back
        Our storied glory, Our storied glory
        My homeland, my homeland

        Third verse
        Mawṭinī mawṭinī
        Al-ḥusāmu wa-l-yarāʿu lā l-kalām wa-n-nizāʿu
        Ramzunā ramzunā
        Majdunā wa ʿahdunā wa wājibun ilá l-wafā’
        Yahuzzunā yahuzzunā
        ʿIzzunā ʿizzunā
        Ġāyâtun tušarrifu wa rāyâtun turafrifu
        Ġāyâtun tušarrifu wa rāyâtun turafrifu
        Yā hanāk fī ʿulāk
        Qāhirān ʿidāk qāhirān ʿidāk
        Mawṭinī mawṭinī

        My homeland, my homeland
        The sword and the pen, not the talk nor the quarrel
        Are our symbols, Are our symbols
        Our glory and our covenant, and a faithful duty
        Moves us, moves us
        Our glory, Our glory
        Is an honorable cause, and a waving flag
        Is an honorable cause, and a waving flag
        O, behold you, in your eminence
        Victorious over your enemies, victorious over your enemies
        My homeland, my homeland.

        Now to add insult to the American/Iraqi theft controversy, a Lebanese pop singer, Elisa, has included it in her latest release.

      • just
        May 1, 2015, 8:58 am

        Walid~ thank you for the words and the song. It’s a wonderful anthem and so fitting for Palestine.

        “IN 2004 on a specific order from the American Coalition Provisional Chief, Paul Bremmer, Iraq adopted “Mowtini” as the national anthem of Iraq, clearly a theft of Palistinian cultural heritage as the words had been written for Palestine”

        HOW did the Imperial Disaster from the Green Zone do that, and why? It’s not only cultural theft, it also reeks of rank colonialism! Didn’t Iraq already have an anthem? Why, yes they did. Anyway, I found this from 2012:

        “…Iraq’s current national anthem, “Mawtini” (“My Homeland”), was adopted in 2004 on the order of Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer, who admired the song when he heard it at a concert.

        The 2004 change was the fifth time that a new Iraqi national anthem had been adopted.

        More than 400 texts by Iraqi poets were submitted as potential national anthems between 2008 and 2009, Shlah said, but the search for an anthem is ongoing. Earlier this year, the culture and media committee tasked six Iraqi writers with evaluating potential national anthems.

        They have narrowed it down to three candidates – “Salam ala Hadhabat al-Iraq” (“Peace on the Hills of Iraq”); “Ghareeb ala al-Khaleej” (“A Stranger on the Gulf”); and “Watani al-Haq Yuaiduhu” (“My Country is Supported by Right”).

        In discussions on the poems, Iraqi Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians called for verses in their languages to be added, but a compromise was reached whereby the words “Long live Iraq” would be said at the end in various languages. …”

        Imperial hubris.

  15. socialconscience
    April 30, 2015, 8:34 am

    Benedict can you post the references for your statistics?

  16. David Gerald Fincham
    April 30, 2015, 9:40 am

    Great stuff, and many thanks to Phil for telling us about it.

    But, one very strange error from Zoabi: “I cannot live with him in Nazareth, inside ’48, inside Israel. ”

    The 1948 border is the border Israel declared on 14 May, 1948: the Partition Plan line, the only recognized border Israel has ever had. Nazareth is outside that border, in the area assigned to the Arab state in the Partition Plan. Nazareth is inside the 1949 Armistice line, which is the de facto border of Israel, but is not recognized as the legal border. That will only be determined when Israel has peace treaties with Lebanon, Syria and Palestine.

    • benedict
      April 30, 2015, 12:45 pm

      how are peace treaties wuth syria and lebanon relevant to nazareth?

      • David Gerald Fincham
        April 30, 2015, 2:13 pm

        @benedict. “How are peace treaties with syria and lebanon relevant to nazareth?”

        They are not, particularly. Resolution 242 is addressed to ‘all States in the area’. I was just making the point that the borders of Israel will not be finally determined until it has peace treaties with all its neighbors.

    • peter hindrup
      April 30, 2015, 9:02 pm

      A state MUST have defined borders — Israel does not have defined borders —- therefore is not a state?

      • benedict
        May 1, 2015, 1:50 am

        what are the defined borders of palestine?

      • David Gerald Fincham
        May 2, 2015, 9:44 am

        See my reply to Peter.

      • David Gerald Fincham
        May 1, 2015, 6:00 am

        Hello Peter, yes, this point can be confusing.

        Israel does have defined borders: it defined them on May 14, 1948 to be those specified by the UN Partition Plan (under which Nazareth, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Beersheba, and other important places are outside Israel). It was recognized by other states as a sovereign state within those borders.

        However, those borders are not determinate, to use a lawyers terminology. Ultimately, a state has to agree its borders with the neighboring states. If both sides define their borders to include a common piece of territory, then there is a border dispute, which has to be resolved by negotiation (or legal action if there is no agreement) to finally determine the position of the border.

        The Palestinian Arabs and the Arab states did not accept the existence of the State of Israel until 1988, and claimed all of Mandatory Palestine as their territory. Israel has never accepted the existence of the State of Palestine.

        Therefore the border between Israel and the rest of Mandatory Palestine has never been agreed between the two sides, and that border is therefore indeterminate.

      • peter hindrup
        May 1, 2015, 6:32 am

        And therefore cannot be a state?

      • David Gerald Fincham
        May 2, 2015, 9:41 am

        @peter hindrup “And therefore cannot be a state?”

        I am not sure whether you are asking about Israel or Palestine. The Montevideo Convention said that states should have a defined territory, not that they must have a defined territory. When the state of Palestine was declared, it did not define its borders, but was still recognized as a state by many other states, because of Palestine’s special circumstances. It was different with Israel, because President Truman’s administration refused to recognize Israel unless it defined its borders according to the UN Partition Plan.

        So the situation is that both Israel and Palestine are recognized as states, but the border between them has yet to be determined. See my previous article for more details –

      • peter hindrup
        May 2, 2015, 9:54 am

        David: thanks you for that, it has given me some much-needed information.

  17. benedict
    April 30, 2015, 10:12 am

    Zoabi just can’t stop lying.

    At 13:10 of the lecture she claims there are 700 communities where she as an Arab is denied living rights. She is referring to the admission committee law. Yet the law applies to only 117 communities.

    The full list can be viewed here:

    And even in those places the law explicitly forbids denying living for a person based on religion. See over here:

    • a blah chick
      April 30, 2015, 2:56 pm

      According to an article in Haaretz (Jan 26, 2012) the law “…. allows the use of acceptance committees “to bar residents who do not suit the lifestyle and social fabric of the community” only in communities in the Galilee and the Negev that have fewer than 400 families.”

      Gee, isn’t that where most of the Palestinians in Israel live? Mere coincidence I’m sure. And isn’t that wording “who do not suit the lifestyle and social fabric of the community” really cute? You can apply that to ANYTHING about a family you don’t like. I heard that they can keep you out if they don’t think you can afford to live there. I read a few years ago that one community used it to keep an Ethiopian family out.

      • benedict
        May 1, 2015, 2:03 am

        a blah chik-

        There are 1273 cities and towns in Israel. The admission law applies to 117 communities – less than 10%.

        And even in those places the law explicitly forbids denying living for a person based on religion. See over here:
        link to

      • zaid
        May 1, 2015, 4:06 am

        for more information about the laws that discriminates between arabs and jews in israel check:

  18. RockyMissouri
    April 30, 2015, 10:53 am

    A heroine for all people. She sounds WONDERFUL.

  19. Harry
    April 30, 2015, 12:38 pm

    “Where is the Palestinian Mandela?”, it has been asked too many times. You are looking right at her.

    • jon s
      May 1, 2015, 5:13 pm

      I’m very much impressed with Ayman Ouda. He could be the “Palestinian Mandela”.

  20. socialconscience
    April 30, 2015, 10:34 pm

    Thank you for posting your source material Benedict…..although i cant read hebrew, i dont know what it says…

    How about Zoabi’s next statistic:

    ”In Israel there is 50 laws in every theme of llife that you can imagine, which discriminate against us.’

    Is she sloppy with that figure too?

    Also speakinig of sloppy figures are you aware that of the 2200 people in Gaza killed in operation protective edge the Israeli government claimed half were Hamas operatives.

    The UN claimed 2/3 were civilians

    What are we to make of Israeli government statistics reporting reliability?

  21. chris o
    May 1, 2015, 2:44 am

    Yes, her power and clarity comes across. Mission Accomplished. Thanks.

  22. Bornajoo
    May 1, 2015, 10:43 am

    What an incredibly inspirational lady.

    She’s smart, strong, highly intelligent, rational and believes in universal justice. And she’s a woman

    No wonder the Zionists hate her and feel threatened by her.

    • benedict
      May 1, 2015, 10:48 am

      She believes in national RIGHTS for Palestinians but not for Jews. That’s not justice.

      • just
        May 2, 2015, 12:21 am

        Where do you get that from?

    • bintbiba
      May 1, 2015, 1:28 pm

      @Bornajoo +1000

      Thank you.

  23. Citizen
    May 1, 2015, 10:55 am

    Zoabi gets right to the point in a refreshingly direct manner. She opened up a Twitter account last July. Her tweets are not in English.

  24. Scandipope
    May 4, 2015, 6:52 am

    I noticed that Phillip elegantly sidestepped Haneen Zoabis assertion that African migrants could have a role to play in Palestinians struggle

    (Which granted, was a supremely stupid question to ask if you know even a little bit about the region.)

    I assume the reason why he didn’t explore or explain her deadpan refusal, is because he knows perfectly well why she answered that way.

    From Haneens point of view, which would be considered obvious beyond explanation for most Palestinians, an African migrant is not a Palestinian and therefore has nothing to do in their struggle.

    Since Haneen is first of all a nationalist, it follows that in the hypothetical Palestinian state she is trying to make a reality, there would be no room for African migrants or anybody else but Palestinians. She even says that much, when she talks about one democratic multicultural state and “one state for Palestinians”.

    At best they might be tolerated as an unavoidable fact, as in Israel in some cases, and exploited for their cheap labor and dreams of a life in Europe.

    And this is seriously who Phillip Weiss thinks a brave and courageous, laudable and quotable activist? The reason that she isn’t being featured more isn’t that she in any way is dangerous for the status quo.

    Its because she IS the status quo. She is merely replacing one kind of virulent nationalism: Zionism with a Palestinian virulent nationalism, which in the eyes of most people isn’t exactly progress.

    Unfortunately, Phillip Weiss can’t see it, which is because he seems smitten by an affliction that is often mentioned here: PEP. He’s Progressive Except for Palestine.

    Like many of his comrades, he either ignores any evil which he’d never support in any other case, or excuse it when it comes to Palestine “because Israel does the same!”

    Principled progressives turning PEP is always sad, though perhaps understandable.
    After decades of setbacks and lack of other options on the Palestinian side, they’re forced to either give up their engagement in the Palestinian cause such as I did, or ally with virulent nationalists and Islamists like HAMAS, and pretend that they’re not guilty of the very sin they often accuse Zionists for. Holding one part to a different standard.

    • Citizen
      May 4, 2015, 2:40 pm

      @ Scandipope
      The Jews were given their very long chance to show the world what their true values are, so why not give the same chance to the Palestinians? Your argument or sentiments seem premature and disengehuous. You expect an awful lot from Palestinians still undergoing daily the later stages of Nakba. Just my initial take on your comment. Perhaps Phil will respond?

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