A little more than two years ago, Jewish organizations throughout the United States made a decision to organize a fundraising campaign to help members of Israel’s Arab community, which numbers more than one million Israeli citizens out of a total population of seven million.

While U.S. Jews indeed rendered assistance to Israeli Arabs in unprecedented projects over the past two years, most of those American citizens did not pay much attention to the democratically-elected leadership of Israeli Arabs who have turned on the state of Israel from within.

The most outspoken democratically-elected Arab member of Israel’s Knesset parliament, Azmi Bishara, led delegations of Israeli Arab members of the Knesset last summer to Lebanon to express his full support for the Hezbollah at a time when Hezbollah attacked Israel with more than 4,000 missile attacks, which resulted in 52 Israeli civilians being killed – 24 of whom were Israeli Arabs.

Ever since, the Israeli law enforcement establishment has been conducting investigations of Bishara for allegations of treason.

Bishara announced on Thursday evening that he would resign from his Knesset post following what he branded “persecution” against him.

“Is it possible that a parliament member is subjected to such persecution?” he asked during an interview with reporters.

Yet during the autumn of 2000, when riots broke out in every Arab community in northern Israel except for one – the Israeli Arab city of Shefaram

Shefaram’s Mayor Ursan Yassin reminded the media on Thursday that on the first night of the riots he saw a group of masked men that wanted to desecrate the ancient synagogue of Shefaram: “I told the hooligans that I recognized them, and that if they wanted to continue, they would have to get past me.”

The mayor of Shefaram went against the recommendation of Israeli members of Knesset, led by Azmi Bishara, who encouraged the youth of the Arab sector to continue the riot against Israeli government, using all means, including violence.

A Unique Phenomenon

Azmi Bishara is a unique phenomenon. There isn’t another country in the world in which Members of Parliament openly support terrorist organizations whose purpose is to destroy that very same country.

In Britain there is an MP, George Galloway, who at times praises radical Islamic organizations. But even he has not matched the Israeli record. He does not support the destruction of Great Britain.

The uniqueness of Azmi Bishara remains because the Israeli law is clear. It is illegal for any candidate for the Knesset to reject the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, either explicitly or implicitly so, and illegal to support a terror organization.

In 1999 and in 2003, Bishara was disqualified by the Knesset’s Central Elections Committee. However, Israel’s benevolent High Court of Justice, decided to interpret the law in a way that somehow allowed Bishara to run.

Bishara’s Quotes

Here are some of the more potent remarks that Bishara made about the State of Israel from the Knesset rostrum:

* About Israel’s future: “I am not opposed to all of Israel becoming Palestine. The Israelis immigrated to us, not we to them.” (excerpted from an interview to an Austrian weekly, Oct. 14, 2000).

* About Hezbollah: “Hezbollah is a courageous national force that has taught Israel a lesson. It became the vanguard of the Arab world with a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the goal.” (June 27, 2000)

* About the SLA, the South Lebanese Army comprised of Christian Lebanese who fought alongside Israel: “It is inconceivable that mercenaries and traitors should live in our midst.” (Oct. 5, 1999).

* About the democratic state: “Israel is the greatest robbery of the 20th century. Give us back Palestine and take your democracy. We, the Arabs, aren’t interested.” (December 2005).

Likud Proposes ‘Bishara Law’

The Azmi Bishara affair has elicited responses from the political establishment.

A Likud member of Knesset, Gilad Erdan, announced plans to initiate a bill that would prevent an member of the Knesset in the future from serving in the legislature as long as he does not recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

Erdan’s bill would obligate all Arab members of the Knesset to state, once and for all, that they recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, otherwise they will not be able to serve as as an MK. “It is now clear why Bishara lost his wits when I proposed that he serve in the Syrian parliament,” added MK Gilad Erdan.


Netanyahu:?Bishara’s Departure

Is Good For Everyone

“Bishara has contributed greatly to destabilizing relations between Arabs and Jews, and if he has decided to leave, it will only benefit us all,” said the Israeli opposition chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu during a visit to northern Israel.

Former Israel education minister Limor Livnat, who accompanied him, added, “Bishara was disqualified by the Central Elections Committee and petitioned the High Court of Justice.  They received the protection of democracy, and are now claiming to be persecuted. There are Arab MKs who abuse their immunity and endanger the state.  We will have to ask ourselves many questions.”

Another member of the Knesset, National Religious Party Chairman Zvulun Orlev submitted a bill yesterday according to which a person who visits an enemy country will not be able to run for a seat in the Knesset.  In conjunction, he also intends to promote a bill stating that every MK will be required to swear allegiance to the Jewish and democratic State of Israel.  

The Olmert administration, which comprises Israel’s first Arab member of the government, Rayed Majadle, has remained silent on the Bishara affair.

The Bulletin asked Israel government minister Majadle to comment on the phenomenon of Israeli Arabs turning on their fellow citizens. Majadle responded by saying that he does not believe that any Israeli Arab leader would turn his back on the state of Israel. He would not comment on the Bishara affair, however.

David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindThe News.com

©The Bulletin 2007


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.