Palestinian member of Knesset speaks out against Israel’s crackdown on Arab citizens

by Middle East Monitor, January 31, 2016. On Friday we had interviewed Yasmina about this coming event. Here in the following you can find the post-event report.

Panel of speaekers from left to right: Malia Bouattia, Dr. Durgham Saif, Baroness Hussein-Ece [chair] Dr. Yousef T. Jabareen and Ben White

Panel of speaekers from left to right: Malia Bouattia, Dr. Durgham Saif, Baroness Hussein-Ece [chair] Dr. Yousef T. Jabareen and Ben White
A member of the Israeli Knesset and three leading experts addressed a packed audience in London on Israel’s targeting of dissent and crackdown on its Arab citizens.
The public event organised by the Middle East Monitor focused on Israeli human rights violations against its 1.5 million Palestinian citizens.
Dr Yousef Jabareen, a Knesset member since 2015, pointed to the daily life of discrimination and exclusion faced by Palestinians. “The basic principles of democracy are not being respected”, said the former university lecturer. “The cornerstone of democracy is equal citizenship, which isn’t upheld in Israel. Israel is a democracy for its Jewish citizens only and it has erected a political and legal process of treating Palestinians as a foreigners and tourists”.
A member of the Hadash party, Dr Jabareen challenged the possibility of reconciling the notions of a Jewish and a democratic state. He compared this contradictory notion to the plight of black Americas during the civil rights movement, which had an equally contradictory notion of “separate but equal”.
Dr Durgham to the audience: 'Israel is a fine democracy but only for its Jews'
Dr Durgham to the audience: ‘Israel is a fine democracy but only for its Jews’
“Treating Palestinian as second, third class citizens is instituted in 40 discriminatory laws and classifications that were very similar to apartheid”, said the MK. “Our struggle is a clear human rights struggle, a march for equal citizenship”, added the MK.
Dr Durgham told the audience “Israel is a fine democracy but only for its Jews”, “the story of Palestinians citizen of Israel is a paradoxical one”, “a modified model of apartheid”, said the lecturer.
The Professor at Al-Quds University and a member of the Israeli Bar Association described the political and legal restrictions to Palestinians. He pointed to the fact that Palestinians can never be part of any governing coalition, “freezing ownership of lands to Jewish hands and transferring it to Jewish hands”.
Dr Durgham listed the educational and civil society organisations proscribed in Israel, fifty-five in total: a move by the right wing government that has “criminalised social and political activities of Palestinians”.
Malia Bouattia compared the elaborate security apparatus in Israel and other western democracies in their suppression of political dissent. “The level of repression is not the same but there are continuities”, said the Black Students’ Officer of the National Union of Students, pointing to the Cameron governments prevent programme and clampdown on pro-Palestinian activism.
David Cameron’s “muscular liberalism” has created a culture of intimidation and bullying, as “students are hounded for their activism”; “charities supporting Palestine have seen their accounts closed; as Prevent has made the question of Palestine all but illegitimate, narrowing the space in which you can discuss Palestine”, added the student activist.
Journalist, Ben White, said: “Israel has never been a democracy. In its 68-year history, there were only seven months when it was not subjecting one group of Palestinians to military rule”. Pointing to the fact that military rule over Palestinians in Israel ended in 1966 but in the summer of 1967 it occupied the rest of historic Palestine and subjected the remaining Palestinian population to military rule.
“Political repression of Palestinians has been in existence since the state began and the states intelligence apparatus regularly clamp down on civil society”
“There will be no real development without decolonisation”, added the author.
The activist also commented on the Knesset’s rejection of the recent bill that sought the insertion of a clause of equality within Israel’s basic law, including the demand for human dignity and liberty; the kind commonly seen in a nations bill of rights. The Knesset had voted against the inclusion of equality in the basic law of Israel.