Tibi on Canadian TV: Israel is a 'Selective Democracy'
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi said on Tuesday that he walked out of the Knesset plenum during Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's speech because of Harper’s “bias”.
Speaking to Evan Solomon of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Tibi claimed Harper had described Israel in "a very unbalanced way."
He also claimed that Israel is a “selective democracy” and that Arabs are “suffering discrimination.”
Canada's foreign policy toward Israel is "biased, non-balanced, and that's why Canada has a very marginal role in the Middle East," Tibi charged.
He left the plenum "to say that we are very much unsatisfied with the remarks and the policy of Prime Minister Harper. It is very diplomatic. It's a protest which is legitimate in any parliament."
Tibi shouted down the Canadian Prime Minister as he expressed his affection for Israel and the Jewish people, shouting that Israel was an “apartheid state” before storming out.
Tibi also interrupted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech and claimed that Israel is not a democracy. Netanyahu responded by saying, "I haven't found any Arabs who wish to leave the State. Quite the opposite; Arabs gave been very upset at a proposal by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman that would redraw Israel's boundaries and include many Israeli Arabs in a Palestinian state."
Tibi told the CBC that Harper didn't mention in his speech the Israeli communities in Judea, Samaria, and eastern Jerusalem and added, "When you are controlling, discriminating, confiscating, occupying lands from one side and putting them in the corner without any basic rights, you are by this way ruling and committing apartheid in the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
"If he is talking about freedom, why [is he] totally neglecting the absence of freedom of the Palestinians under occupation? It is a double-standard. These words are moral double-standard from the prime minister of Canada," he charged.
He also took issue with the idea that debating boycotts of Israeli products and using the term apartheid is anti-Semitic.
"Do you accept at any case to be under occupation and then somebody will tell you that it is absolute democracy? It is not. We are living day by day here. Palestinians under occupation are living day by day, and saying that the occupied territory is apartheid has no relation at any case with anti-Semitism," claimed Tibi.
"What's the connection? If you are criticizing the policy of the state of Israel, immediately you are categorized as anti-Semitic. This is a twisted logic of Mr. Harper," he continued.
If this was not enough, Tibi argued that since one-fifth of Israel's population is made up of Arab-Israelis, Israel does not belong only to the Jewish population and should not be defined as a Jewish state.
"We are citizens of this state. We are indigenous people," Tibi said.
"Israel should be defined as a state of its own nationalities. There are two nationalities in Israel. One is [the] Jewish majority, one is [the] Arab-Palestinian minority. We are not transparent. We are not nonsense, nobody. We are community, we are minority and we are a national minority. Saying that Israel is the Jewish state is neglecting our existence, our very existence and our narrative, and I will not accept that," he declared.
Tibi is no stranger to anti-Israel remarks and actions, despite his being an elected member of Israel’s parliament.
He has in the past praised the Palestinian Authority’s “martyrs” at a ceremony held on the occasion of "Palestinian Martyrs Day” and sponsored by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
He has also called for a boycott of products manufactured in Judea, Samaria, and east Jerusalem, saying that “settlements are a cancer spreading all over Palestinian land, and cancer should be treated and eradicated. I am talking about a peaceful and non-violent way by not buying or selling or dealing in these products from these settlements.”
Arab MKs often claim that Israel uses a policy of apartheid towards Arabs, ignoring the fact that Israeli Arabs have the right to vote, serve in the Knesset, study in Israeli universities, share the same hospitals and public facilities and work alongside Israeli Jews.
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) told the CBC that Tibi has the right to speak his mind because he lives in a democracy in Israel, but added that he should follow the rules in doing so.
"Sometimes it's annoying a lot of members of [the] Knesset," Rivlin told Solomon.
"I believe that he, Mr. Tibi, was elected to [the] Knesset as much as I was elected to [the] Knesset. But he has to respect the rule of law and to respect the rule of majority," he added.
Meanwhile, the Regavim movement, an NGO watchdog group for Jewish national property rights, on Tuesday exposed Tibi’s lie during his outburst at the Knesset.
Tibi pointed at a fellow Arab MK and shouted in English "there is no water and no electricity in his village. In Syria...maybe."
Regavim then uploaded video images of Arara Banegev, the Bedouin village in southern Israel where the MK lives. The video clearly exposes Tibi's blatant lie.