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Feminist Women's Groups: Zoabi Vote 'Sexist'

Women's groups accuse Knesset of sexism over vote to take away Israeli Arab MK Zoabi's privileges.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/15/2010, 10:43 PM / Last Update: 7/15/2010, 11:00 PM

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Feminist women's groups and other leftist "social" organizations have accused the Knesset of sexism over the decision to strip Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) of privileges. The groups sent a letter of complaint to Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, part of which was printed in the Hebrew-language daily Maariv.

MKs who voted against Zoabi “are harassing her due to the fact that she's a Palestinian Arab woman,”, the women's group activists claimed. As proof, they said, “these same privileges were not revoked from men, either Jewish or Arab.” Israel does not call Israeli Arabs by the term 'Palestinians', but Zoabi calls herself by that term.

Activists also accused MKs hostile to Zoabi of making comments about the fact that she is single, “clearly demonstrating the sexism she faces and the significant discrimination against her due to the fact that she is a woman.”

The reference is to MK Yochanan Plesner (Kadima), who suggested that if Zoabi was so unhappy with Israel she should go to Gaza, saying, “We will see if you manage to live in Gaza as a thirty-eight year old single woman.”

MK Zoabi took part in a flotilla that attempted to dock in Gaza in defiance of an Israeli naval blockade on Hamas. She was aboard the Mavi Marmara, a ship that also carried members of the Turkish pro-terror group IHH. Members of the IHH attacked IDF soldiers as they came aboard, leading to a clash in which nine people were killed.

Zoabi later said she did not regret taking part in the flotilla, and would do the same thing again.

The activists who wrote to Rivlin on Zoabi's behalf are hoping for a second vote on rescinding her privileges. Zoabi lost her diplomatic passport and her right to state coverage of any legal fees.

While the Knesset has not yet revoked privileges from male Arab MKs accused of anti-Israel activity, MK Michael Ben-Ari has led a campaign to do exactly that, with regard to Knesset Members Ahmed Tibi and Taleb al-Sana of Raam-Taal, Muhammad Barakeh and Afu Agbariya (Hadash), and Jamal Zahalka (Balad).