Ban the Sakhnin Communist Party

The Movement for Quality Government has asked the High Court of Justice to ban the communist party in Sakhnin because of its support for terrorism.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

Communist flags at a Hadash rally
Communist flags at a Hadash rally
photo: file

The Movement for Quality Government (MQG) has asked the High Court of Justice to ban a branch of the Israeli communist party in the Arab-majority city of Sakhnin because of the branch's expressed support for terrorism.
Support for anti-Israel terrorism as a campaign tactic.

According to the petition, the Sakhnin Democratic Front party list, a local offshoot of the communist Democratic Front for Peace and Equality Party (Hadash), used support for anti-Israel terrorism as a campaign tactic. In doing so, the MQG argued, the party rejected not only democracy, but the very existence of the state.

The latest appeal to the High Court comes in the wake of a previous MQG petition against the candidacy of convicted terrorist Tagrid Saadi on the Sakhnin Democratic Front's municipal council list. Saadi, 25, served six years in prison for helping a Fatah suicide bomber murder six Israelis in a Jerusalem outdoor market in 2002. At her trial, it became clear that Saadi had been in contact with terrorists for some time before the attack. Saadi, who was released from jail in January of this year, concealed her criminal conviction from the Elections Board, which would have had the discretion to disallow her candidacy.

As a result of the MQG petition against Saadi, filed just two days before the municipal elections, she withdrew her candidacy. She was forced to pay 7,500 NIS in court costs.

Immediately after the case against Saadi was concluded, the MQG discovered that the Sakhnin Democratic Front had been using the former terrorist's actions and conviction as part of its campaign propaganda. Among its campaign material, the petitioners said, were flyers and posters that called for Sakhnin residents to "vote for the prisoner for freedom." This slogan, according to the MQG, "expresses clear support by the Sakhnin list for Ms. Saadi's involvement in terrorism that undermines the existence of the State of Israel and its democratic character; it cannot be understood any other way."

The MQG claims that the party not only knew of Saadi's terrorist past when selecting her for its municipal list, but it also publicly expressed unequivocal support for her actions during the election campaign. The Sakhnin branch of Hadash, the petition says, even emphasized Saadi's record, painting her as a "freedom fighter." Aside from the ethical question, the party obviously also knew and helped hide Saadi's criminal record from the proper election authorities.

In the elections, incumbent Mayor Muhammad Bashir, who headed the list Saadi was to run on, was defeated by Mazen Ghnaim, former chairman of the popular B'nei Sakhnin soccer club. Ghnaim is a member of the Arab nationalist party Balad, which ran on a joint list with two other parties.

Nationally, the Balad party was headed by former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara, who fled the country after he was suspected of assisting the Lebanese Hizbullah in its war against the State of Israel.