Hanin Zoabi is the first woman to be elected to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, as a representative of an Arab party. Ms. Zoabi, former director of the I’lam: Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel, is a feminist and strong secularist. She is now one of three representatives of the Balad (National Democratic Assembly) Party.
On one of her first days in the Knesset, the new parliamentarian asked for her thoughts regarding increased Iranian influence in Gaza. Ms. Zoabi replied that she welcomed it.
She said, “If this influence is supporting me, so I will not mind this influence. Even, I would ask for this influence… The question is not whether there is an influence or not, the question whether this influence is supporting you, can support your demands or can go against your demands.”
Queried regarding Iran’s quest to manufacture nuclear weapons, she stated was that “It would [sic] be more supporting me to have a counter-power to Israel” and “I need something to balance its [Israel’s] power.”
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She also spoke of Egypt and Jordan as being a threat to the Arabs of the Gaza Strip, intimating that they are scared of a free and democratic Palestinian state.
Ms. Zoabi was then asked if she felt worried due to the fact that Iran is getting close to acquiring a nuclear weapon and because she lives in close proximity to Jews. She replied, “No, I am not, I’m afraid from the nuclear Iran, I am more afraid from the Israeli nuclear [weapons].”
Israel does not officially admit to being a nuclear power, yet it is generally accepted that it has been a nuclear power since the 1960s.
When asked if she thought that Iran would use nuclear weapons, she deliberately misunderstood and replied, “The Israelis? I think yes. And I am afraid from real risk rather than from potential risk.” She said that everyone is asking about potential risk while “Every day the Israeli uses its violence, army violence.”
“The Iranian is a potential… but the real risk is the Israeli army.”
Ms. Zoabi said that Israel was an aggressor state, and that only a situation similar to that which existed between the Soviet Union and United States in the form of the doctrine of “Mutually Ensured Destruction” would restrain Israel.
“It’s the balance of power. This is the only idea. Our only idea that it is more dangerous to the world, more dangerous to everyone, more dangerous to the Palestinians, to Israelis to have Israel as the only powerful state. I need something to balance its power because this balance of power will restrict the Israeli using of power. The Israeli violence of the army is an outcome of the Israel’s convenient feeling that no one will restrict her, that no Arab country will really declare a war against [Israel].”
She continued by saying “and another thing… I need a power which can make contrast to the Israeli power and it’s not for myself. It is not supporting me the fact that Israel would be the only state with a nuclear weapon. It’s more supporting me to have counter power to Israel.”
“I believe that [Israel] would respect its use of power if she’s afraid from others. The fact that she is not afraid from Arab countries, the fact that she is not afraid from a potential declaration of our Arab world to declare war against Israel, makes Israel more violent. You understand me. Sometimes I need power not in order to implement this power but in order to respect the other’s power. “
She was then asked if an Iranian bomb would lead to a nervous America and thus more U.S. pressure on Israel and if that would be good for her she replied “Exactly.”
Asked about Israel as a Jewish state, Ms. Zoabi declared that the very concept of a Jewish state is “inherently racist,” saying that Israel must be turned into a “state of all its citizens,” which would eliminate its Jewish or Zionist nature.
The Knesset Central Elections Committee disqualified the Balad party from running in the recent elections due to its members’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and reported calls for violence against it. The party was allowed to run when the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Elections Committee.
Party chairman Dr. Jamal Zahalka responded to MK Zoabi’s comments by saying “I think Ms. Zoabi tried to explain some analysis that’s what’s better if you have, but this is not a position it’s an analysis [of] what would be safer for the region, if there is a balance… this is not supporting a nuclear weapon in Iran.”
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com