Arab Israeli MK joins Facebook hate group calling to burn him, debates members

Posted: May 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: racism, The Right | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments »

Being an Arab in Israel is not easy these days. Racism and incitement became a legitimate political currency, the papers are full of anti-Arab articles, human right groups who fight for equal rights for none-Jewish citizens are on the run, and Knesset members are going after the Arab representatives, demanding to strip them of their immunity and press all kind of charges against them.

Half of high school students in Israel (and 81 percent of religious high school students!) thinks Arab citizens shouldn’t enjoy equal rights. 65 percent of the public believes that we should put limits on Arab MKs freedom of speech.

In this political climate, finding Facebook groups such as “Burn MK Taleb El-Sana” – created by a guy name Dor Hasson – is no surprise. “We are tired of the game you play at the Knesset,” write Hasson in the groups’ info page, “your loyalty to the enemy just makes us more and more extreme.” To this he adds a picture of MK El-Sana with red eyes and red horn.

But MK El-Sana (Ra’am-Ta’al), Instead of reporting the group and trying to have it closed, decided to join it, and engage in a debate with the group’s members. Yesterday, he posted this message on the group’s wall:

“Shalom to all the group members and to Dor Hasson. A few days ago the existence of this group was brought to my attention. At first I was furious, but after a few days, I gave it some more thought and reached the conclusion that I will be happy to start a dialogue with you. I don’t believe that people act out of evilness, but out of the faith they have in the truthfulness of their ways. That’s why I decided to join Facebook and talk with you. So, a simple question: do you really want to burn me.”

A few hours later, a group member answered something like “there is a difference between what we want and what we can do. Some would like to do that, but we live in a democracy with the highest morale standards.” (It’s a classic racist move, by the way: never take responsibility for the incitement, but show understanding to those ‘want to do something’.”).

After all the usual rightwing charges were thrown at his face (traitors, fanatics, lairs, “don’t serve in the army”, etc.), MK El-Sana posted a few comments – in a very empathic tone – explaining his tough position as an Arab in a Jewish state.

“Thank you for choosing to answer me,” writes El-Sana. “I know it is hard to start a dialogue with someone you see as your enemy. I wanted to tell you that I am not your enemy. I was born here, in Israel. I grew up here, and just like you, I wish to live country with high moral standards, and that values the life of a human being. I understand that you and your group has criticism on my political activities – and this is legitimate. But to call for someone to be burned, just because you don’t like his views or his ethnic origin – that’s taking it too far…”

The debate goes on – but it doesn’t seem that El-Sana is making any progress (though by now he got some support from people who came across this debate).

a-sana1

"Burn El-Sana" facebook page, with El-Sana's post

Should we engage with this kind of dialogue with just about anyone, and under any circumstances? I’m not that sure.

When it comes to question of policy, I’m a great believer in negotiations. You should always try to have everyone into the political process: Hamas as well as the settlers. Without them, stabilizing this region will be much more difficult. But on a basic human level, I find the debate on the wall of “burn MK El-Sana” group infuriating. Why should an Arab, a public leader who represents hundred of thousands like him, be made to apologize and justify himself – not his actions, but his simple right to live in the place he was born in – in front of a bunch of ignorant bullies? Isn’t answering them just legitimizes their game, or could El-Sana’s approach win him new supporters, not necessarily from the group he was talking to?

As I said, I don’t have a definite answer.

UPDATE: as the blogger Tom writes [Hebrew], there is always the possibility that this is not El-Sana himself debating the group, but someone pretending to be him. Still, the fundamental question remains: is this is a debate worth having, and are those the people we should engage in a dialogue with?


6 Comments on “Arab Israeli MK joins Facebook hate group calling to burn him, debates members”

  1. 1 David said at 10:45 am on May 28th, 2010:

    Should he have to apologize and grovel, obviously not. If the state was consistent, the creators of the group would be in an underground shabak interrogation facility. In the US, if you did this, you’d be done – point – just finished. The only “engaging” the Congressmen would need to do is watching videos of the creator being tased during a midnight arrest raid.

    Someday there will be justice, clearly it’s not present right now.

    The only justice available is to republish this story. The point will be made plenty to those who read it. I’m sure some repressed psychological issues regarding burning may have surfaced here. Excuse or not, the group just makes hate-filled Zionists look foolish. Great coverage PL Blog.

  2. 2 Danaa said at 9:02 pm on May 28th, 2010:

    Seems to me that El-Sana is an extremely courageous fellow – to have answered with such dispassion the ones who claim they’d rather burn him at the stake. Reminds me of some similarly brave – and just as villified – learned jews of the middle ages who debated the church elders with calm, truth and intellectual courage. Knowing the entire time that there was indeed a great likelihood they would in fact be burned, no matter how solid their arguments, or capable the defense.

    Do we need more proof than this heinous facebook that israel has now begun the long and tortuous descent into its very own dark ages?

    American Jews like Peter Beinart – a repentant ex-neocon himself – are waking up to what’s happening to their beloved Israel. It’s a question of time before a critical mass of diaspora jews reach their epiphany – each in their own way – but leading in the end, to more or less the same place. This facebook page can only help the process.

    And kudos again to El-Sana – he also reminds me of the courageous souls who fought against the Jim Crow laws in the American south. Many of those warriors for democracy and human rights were jewish. Let’s hope more will choose to follow in their footsteps – and soon. Unfortunately for Israel – this process is bound to lead to the sad realization that zionism – israel style – is an ideology that’s become too weighed down with its built-in internal contradictions to survive as anything other than an ultra-nationalist/zealous/religious movement. And so, we’ll American jews turn away in justified disgust, as they see ever more Israelis turn into Judeans.

  3. 3 rick said at 9:01 am on May 29th, 2010:

    i group calls to kill a member of knesset. thought this would be a mission for the shin bet, the minimum would be to visit this guys to have a look if they are serious. you never know….

  4. 4 Michael LeFavour said at 4:33 pm on May 29th, 2010:

    There doesn’t seem to be much of a debate. Why are you making a mountain out of a mole hill?

    I would engage him if he would debate me and I would argue for him to be put to death for giving away information to a genocidal group of enemies that could cause the deaths of many innocent Israelis. We call that treason. While I would have no desire to burn him to death if he were to be found guilty, I would certainly lose no sleep if he were shot or hung after a comprehensive trial.

  5. 5 David said at 4:44 pm on May 29th, 2010:

    Israel is an historical anachronism, a blip in history. It will drown in a sea of Arabs. More and more Israeli Jews understand this and as a result nearly a million have emigrated.

  6. 6 Michael LeFavour said at 4:55 am on May 30th, 2010:

    I am not sure of your figures, but if they are leaving, how do you know they wouldn’t stay if Israel produced a leader that could drain the rising sea or build an effective levee against them? Many of us understand that Israel must do unpleasant things to win and live in security, all of which is made necessary by the actions of the Arabs. The Arabs understand that with allies like Noam and others they do not have to have ethics or behave morally. No intransigence, no horror, no evil they do will ever be bad enough to shock the left out of the hypnotic trance they are locked into. The Arabs are the perpetual victim and everything Israelis do is a fault of why things are the way they are. Nothing the Arabs do is wrong. Blind support for the poor, poor Arabs is a psychosis. Pay a little lip service to denouncing terror then get back to the business of delegitimizing Israel.