In a heated parliamentary debate, a lawmaker for Israel’s ruling party referred to Jews as a “special race” before telling an Arab member of the Knesset that he could not make a moral argument because of his opposition to Jewish statehood.
Likud party member Miki Zohar, head of the Knesset Regulatory Committee, told pro-Palestinian Knesset member Ahmad Tibi on Monday: “The Jewish race is a special race and I am glad to be part of it. If you don’t like it, deal with it.”
“You can’t preach morals to us because you are anti-Zionists, against the principle of the Jewish state.”
The Camera Bill Gets Stymied in Knesset
His comments came during a vote in the committee on a controversial bill, pushed by Prime Minister Netanyahu, which would allow party-affiliated observers to place cameras at polling stations during national elections.
Netanyahu’s government approved the bill on Sunday, just one week before the general election. The prime minister said it would help prevent potential voter fraud after claiming that fraudulent actions among the Arab voters helped them “steal” the April election, where he failed to secure a majority in parliament and form a coalition government, and was eventually forced to call a snap vote.
Arab leaders suggested the legislation was designed to intimidate Israeli Arab voters, which Netanyahu denied, while Israel’s president and attorney general have both opposed the bill too. The latter voiced concerns that the bill, if passed, could “prevent the [Central Elections] Committee from properly conducting the proceedings on election day, and may even, in all probability, prevent some voters from voting and even cause confusion and chaos when conducting the election process.”
The Monday vote in the Knesset was meant to advance the bill before next Tuesday’s election, but it failed to pass.
“Once, the prime minister said that the Arabs are ‘voting in droves,’” Ahmad Tibi said, as quoted by The Times of Israel. “Today he’s translating that into an anti-Semitic statement — that the Arabs are stealing the elections.”
“We will not accept oversight by Netanyahu’s phalanges, only by the Central Elections Committee,” he concluded.
Same Old ‘Race Theory’
The two legislators were embroiled in a race-related row last year. At the time, Miki Zohar said that the Jewish public was too smart to be “fooled” by media reports about multiple corruption accusations against the prime minister.
“You can’t fool the Jews, no matter what is the media writes,” he said in June 2018. “The public in Israel is a public that belongs to the Jewish race, and the entire Jewish race is the highest human capital, the smartest, the most comprehending. The public knows what the prime minister is doing for the country and how excellent he is at his job.”
Tibi – a one-time advisor to Yasser Arafat – countered by tweeting in Jewish, “An elected official in ‘the Jewish State’ presents: race theory,” alongside a picture of Zohar.
נבחר ציבור ב״מדינת היהודים״ מציג: תורת הגזע.. pic.twitter.com/g0uGhBpYt7— Ahmad Tibi (@Ahmad_tibi) June 13, 2018
After an ensuing Twitter exchange, Zohar defended his statement, saying: “What can you do? We were blessed by God… and I will continue to say that at every opportunity.”
“I don’t have to be ashamed about the Jewish people being the Chosen People; the smartest, most special people in the world.”