Wednesday, March 20th | 13 Adar II 5779

February 15, 2016 3:13 am

Indict, Expel, Repeat: Time for Anti-Israeli MKs to Leave the Knesset

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

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The Knesset. Photo: James Emery.

The Knesset. Photo: James Emery.

The Knesset Ethics Committee has decided to ban three Arab MKs from parliamentary activity following a meeting they held with families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis. But the silence of the country’s 1,800,000 Arab citizens was deafening.

Those Palestinians who do speak out — aside from being very hard to find — represent a painfully small minority of Arab-Israelis. Instead, most silently acquiesce to, or support, attacks on Jewish men, women and children.

While a debate rages within Israeli society as to the causes of this widespread sense of Arab alienation, no one can deny that it exists. In response, the Israeli government unanimously approved a five-year plan to invest NIS 15 billion in education, transportation, employment and housing in Arab municipalities.

However, many Arabs citizens continue to view themselves as colonized Palestinians, repeatedly voting in parliamentarians who work off the same propaganda playbook as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Palestinian Authority.

It’s important to note that Arab Israelis face a myriad of problems. A report recently released by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated that low rates of employment for Israeli Arab women were harming Israel’s overall economic performance. And a report published in December 2015 by Israel’s National Insurance Institute found that 52.6 percent of Arab families live in poverty.

Why do Arab-Israelis allow their leaders to get away with cheap displays of populism at the expense of serving their constituents?

Israeli Jews are partly to blame. Citizenship confers many benefits and requires equally important responsibilities. By not demanding that Arab Israeli elected officials stop subverting Israel’s right to exist, we send the message that fomenting violence is a legitimate form of expression.

More disconcerting is that supporting Israel is considered an act of betrayal among large swaths of the Arab Israeli populace.

Similar to corrupt mayors that Israeli courts have removed from office, Arab parliamentarians who use the power vested in them to undermine Israel’s sovereignty should be indicted on charges of incitement to violence. If found guilty, they should be expelled from the Knesset.

Such strong measures will permanently deny the likes of Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghattas and Jamal Zahalka access to the bully pulpit. Without parliamentary power and legitimacy, their guerilla chic appeal will rapidly diminish.

Once the demagogues have been banished, Israel’s largest minority group will be compelled to take their destiny into their own hands.

While Arabs are entitled to first-class citizenship, they’re also responsible for preserving this nation’s democratic character so that future generations of Israelis can experience it.

Ultimately, Arabs who view Israeli citizenship as a badge of honor and not a mark of Cain will make for good, loyal citizens.

And every good citizen adds to the strength of a nation.

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