A speech MK Tibi gave in Ramallah during the “Shahid Day” cost him a severe rebuke by the Knesset Ethics committee, which did not hold back in criticizing him. One of Tibi’s statements was: “Blessings to the thousands of Shahidim in the homeland and abroad; blessings to ours and yours Shahidim inside the Green Line – those who the occupier wanted to brand as terrorists, while we say that there is no one loftier then those who have died for the homeland”.
The committee stated that, “His words constitute an insult to the Knesset’s honor and the public trust in it,” thus accepting the Forum’s stance. The committee decided to penalize Tibi with a severe rebuke.
In his response to the committee, MK Tibi explained that the meaning of the words to a Jewish ear is not the same meaning to which he intended in his speech in front of a Palestinian crowd. Even so, the committee pointed out, his words are understood in their literal terms by the majority of Israeli citizens. His words constitute support by an MK for people who were killed while killing others in terrorist acts.
In its decision the committee stated that it goes to great lengths to safeguard the political right of expression of the MKs, even when it involves difficult and extreme statements, although the committee differentiated between “political statements and statements which are comprised of support and encouragement of violence.”
The committee chose to point out to MK Tibi that, “We will not accept in the future, as a justification of extreme and violent expressions, a claim of misunderstanding and double meaning. MK Tibi, as all other members of Knesset, must weigh his words and their understanding by the broad public, and decide if they constitute an insult to the Knesset and the breach of the ethical guidelines of the MKs.”
The Legal Forum lauded this decision. Hila Cohen, the Forum’s representative, stated that the severe rebuke is a worthy punishment, even though some may claim that it is a light punishment for such harsh words. “The fact that MK Tibi participated in such a heinous event is in itself a testimony to the fact the Tibi’s objective is the destruction of the State of Israel.”
This recent success of the Legal Forum is the result of four years of intensive work tracking statements by MKs who speak against the State of Israel as the Jewish People’s state. Similarly, the Forum has lodged a complaint with the Ethics Committee and the Attorney General against MK Hanin Zoabi’s participation in the Gaza Flotilla, a complaint against Arab MKs who traveled to Libya, MKs who participated in demonstrations against the Israeli state and more.
“An MK cannot take advantage of his status and fool u,s” stated Nachi Eyal, director of the Forum. “The Forum’s objective in its continued activities against these MKs, is to restore the democratic values to their proper place, together with the Jewish Zionist values on which the State of Israel was founded. In a democratic state, the democratic values do not tread upon the foundations of state itself, but rather walk hand in hand with them. This is the status the Forum is trying to achieve, and the Ethics committee’s latest decision proves that we are in the correct direction. This decision together with the previous ones has an accumulating affect.”