3 Arab MPs suspended from Israeli Parliament
after PMW exposed their meeting with families of terrorists
and their observing
"a minute of silence for the souls of the Martyrs"
Two Israeli parliamentary committees met yesterday in response to Palestinian Media Watch's report on Thursday, which exposed that three Arab MPs from the Balad Party met with families of terrorist murderers and stood for "a minute of silence for the souls of the Shahids (Martyrs)". A video of the father of Baha Alyan - murderer of three Israelis, was posted by the Balad Party on its Facebook page, where the terrorist was referred to as "the Shahid (Martyr) Baha Alyan." (See below)
The House Committee of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) met first and invited PMW Director Itamar Marcus to present the information documenting the meeting of the Arab MPs. The Committee gave its recommendations to the Ethics Committee of the Knesset which voted to suspend two of the MPs, Hanin Zoabi and Basel Ghattas, for four months each, and the third MP, Jamal Zahalka, for two months.
As part of his testimony, Itamar Marcus stressed the severity of the Balad Party's referring to the murderers as Shahids. He first explained the Islamic meaning of the words, citing a sermon from PA TV in which the PA Minister of Religious Affairs explained that: "The Shahid has merit with Allah, a merit that no one else has..." (longer text below)
In addition, Marcus presented documentation to the Committee that disproves MP Zahalka's claim, reported by the Times of Israel, that the Arab MPs did not call the terrorists Shahids. In fact, not only did the Balad Party and its MP Basel Ghattas call the terrorist murderers Shahids, the Joint Arab List also did so three times in a post on its Facebook page.
This may prove to be very significant, since the very act of calling terrorist murderers Shahids actually constitutes one of the components of a criminal offense. Assistant Attorney General Ron Nizri, also at the Knesset session, referred to Israeli law, explaining that in order for a person's action to be a criminal offense of incitement, it needs to meet two conditions:
- There must be a call to commit acts of violence or terror, or praise or glorification of an act of violence or terror
- There must be a real possibility that what is said will lead to the perpetration of an act of violence or terror
Using the term Shahid for a terrorist is a violation of the law: "praise or glorification of an act of violence or terror."
The following are the examples of Arab MPs referring to the terrorist murderers by the term Shahid:
Joint Arab List calls terrorist murderers term of highest honor - "Shahid":
"The Joint [Arab] List condemned the wild and racist incitement campaign against Balad Party legislators as a result of their national and humanitarian attention to the issue of the Shahids' (Martyrs') bodies being held by the Israeli government. The Joint List stated that the fascist incitement campaign against the Balad delegates Jamal Zahalka, Hanin Zoabi, and Basel Ghattas is not only a hasty response shrouded in emotions and nationalist and racist tendencies, but also a pitiful attempt by the occupation government to hide the crime of holding the bodies... It noted that it is important to increase the official and non-governmental efforts to release the Shahids' bodies.
The Joint List noted that in everything connected to the Shahids' bodies, Israel is violating international law and the conventions, treaties, and norms of human rights, which emphasize the need to honor the dead and to consider rituals of their religion during burial, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention."
[Joint Arab List Facebook page, Feb. 6, 2016]
Arab MP Basel Ghattas calls terrorist murderers term of highest honor - "Shahid":
"I say to all the hesitating [Israeli Arabs], or the embarrassed, or all of those who have begun to be scared so that according to what they say they were confused and began to make apparent criticisms such as: 'better to be smart than right,' or direct criticisms such as 'What do we have to do with the return of the bodies' and 'The meeting with the Shahids' (Martyrs') families was a mistake': The day we begin to refrain from meeting with the Shahids' families to help them regain their sons' bodies due to fear of the Israeli racist incitement campaigns, we become politically, morally, and humanly unacceptable, and will lose our right to represent the people and lead them. We in [the] Balad Party are good at connecting our citizens' rights, for which we work day and night, and our national rights, as an indigenous group. We will not give up one bit of our honor, [national] affiliation, and identity for crumbs that some people who are deluding themselves dream of achieving."
[Balad Facebook page, Feb. 6, 2016]
Balad Party referred to the murderer of three civilians on a Jerusalem bus as a "Shahid"
The Balad Party posted a video of the father of a terrorist on its Facebook page and called him the "father of the Shahid Baha Alyan." In the video, the father likewise refers to his son as a Shahid:
Father of terrorist Baha Alyan: "We met today with MPs of the Balad Party: Hanin Zoabi, Jamal Zahalka, and Basel Ghattas. The meeting was warm and productive. The Palestinian brothers, the MPs, listened to the pain and suffering of the relatives of the Shahids (Martyrs) whose bodies are being held [by Israel]. Their hearts were open, they listened to every word the Shahids' relatives said. They emphasized that they will make every effort to return the bodies by applying pressure on the [Israeli] government in parliament and by contacting the relevant political and security bodies of the Israeli government. It was agreed to continue meeting and to follow the matter in the near future."
[Balad Facebook page, Feb. 2, 2016]
The following are the words of the former PA Minister of Religious Affairs, which Marcus presented in Israeli Paliament to illustrate the honor implicit in the term Shahid:
"After prophecy and righteousness there is no status Allah has exalted more than Shahada (Martyrdom)... ''And think not of those who have been killed in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.'
Allah forbade us to consider them [the Shahids (Martyrs)] (as dead or to speak of them as being dead... They went smiling to their deaths... The Shahid has merit with Allah, a merit that no one else has... No one - not even the righteous - yearns to return to this world after death. Only Shahids. Why? Because they see the great honor Allah has prepared for them. One of them aspired to return to this world in order to be killed again, in order to die as a Shahid yet again...
'The Shahid - his sins are forgiven with the first gush of his blood from his wound... The Shahid advocates on behalf of 70 members of his family, and saves them all from hell. The Shahid lives together with the prophets and the righteous ones.'"
[Official PA TV, Nov. 8, 2013]
PMW note on terrorist Baha Alyan: On Oct. 13, 2015, two Palestinian terrorists, Baha Alyan (22) and Bilal Ghanem (23) boarded bus in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood with a gun and a knife and attacked passengers, killing Israelis Chaim Haviv (78), Alon Govberg (51), Richard Lakin (76) and wounding 3 Israelis. Alyan was shot and killed by an Israeli security guard at the scene and Ghanem, a Hamas terrorist who served time in Israeli prison in 2013-2014, was wounded.