Bishara: Why Israel Is After Me


WHY ISRAEL IS AFTER ME

[Azmi Bishara was a member of the Knesset until his resignation in April.]

I am a Palestinian from Nazareth, a citizen of Israel and was, until last month, a member of the Israeli parliament.

But now, in an ironic twist reminiscent of France's Dreyfus affair - in which a French Jew was accused of disloyalty to the state - the government of Israel is accusing me of aiding the enemy during Israel's failed war against Lebanon in July.

Israeli police apparently suspect me of passing information to a foreign agent and of receiving money in return. Under Israeli law, anyone - a journalist or a personal friend - can be defined as a "foreign agent" by the Israeli security apparatus. Such charges can lead to life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

The allegations are ridiculous. Needless to say, Hezbollah - Israel's enemy in Lebanon - has independently gathered more security information about Israel than any Arab Knesset member could possibly provide. What's more, unlike those in Israel's parliament who have been involved in acts of violence, I have never used violence or participated in wars. My instruments of persuasion, in contrast, are simply words in books, articles and speeches.

These trumped-up charges, which I firmly reject and deny, are only the latest in a series of attempts to silence me and others involved in the struggle of the Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel to live in a state of all its citizens, not one that grants rights and privileges to Jews that it denies to non-Jews.

When Israel was established in 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled in fear. My family was among the minority that escaped that fate, remaining instead on the land where we had long lived. The Israeli state, established exclusively for Jews, embarked immediately on transforming us into foreigners in our own country.

 


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