Corbyn is 'a Champion of Peace and Justice'
Letter to The Guardian 3rd September 2018
Photo shows protests in Israel against the racist 'basic state' law
As members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, representing our fellow Palestinian Arab citizens of the state of Israel and Jewish supporters of peace and democracy, we are writing to express our solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party in the United Kingdom. Palestinian Arabs constitute about a fifth of Israel’s citizenry. As such, we have a deep understanding of the vulnerability that many minority communities feel, in the UK and around the world. We respect the vigilance with which minority groups monitor the actions and statements of their local leaders, to ensure that their rights are not infringed upon, and to defend their members from unwarranted attacks on the basis of their group identity.
Palestinian citizens of Israel have yet to experience a single day of equality, de jure or de facto – to say nothing of the millions of Palestinians under military occupation in the West Bank, under siege in the Gaza Strip, and the 6 million in exile abroad, prevented from returning to their homeland simply because they are not Jews. As part of the Palestinian people, this has been our lived experience of the Zionist movement since day one.
In the Knesset, in the streets, and on the world stage, we Palestinian parliamentarians have always argued that it is not possible for any ethno-state, Jewish or otherwise, to also be a state that guarantees equality to all its citizens; for the state of Israel to be both Jewish and democratic. Now Benjamin Netanyahu has proved that we were right all along, by passing the constitutional nation-state law, which explicitly raises the rights of Jewish people to paramount status, downgrades the Arabic language and eclipses any mention of equal rights, regardless of race or religion.
Emboldened by the rise of far-right forces in the US and other parts of the world, the Netanyahu government has made it abundantly clear that Palestinians will never have a state of their own, and that they will never be allowed equality inside Israel. Emboldened by Netanyahu’s ultra-nationalism, Israeli racists are stepping up their violent vigilante attacks on Palestinian people, putting the spirit of the nation-state law into practice.
Incredibly, instead of taking that government to task for its unadulterated racism, the British political class ignores the Palestinian historical plight, and attacks and abuses the British and European leader who vocally supports the Palestinian cause of peace and equality. With the Netanyahu government ramping up the racism, our struggle for survival is more precarious than ever. But while we focus locally, defending what’s left of our ever-diminishing rights, we feel that we must speak out now and register our repugnance at these recent attempts to complete our erasure, by forbidding within the UK Labour party any mention by name of the forces allayed against the Palestinian cause.
As long as efforts to curb anti-Jewish sentiment in the UK are focused on combating the disparagement of Jews merely for their membership in a minority group, they have our full support. But when some try to force theLabour party into using as its litmus test a definition of antisemitism that goes far beyond anti-Jewish animus to include anti-Zionism, we must raise our voices and decry these efforts.
We commend Jeremy Corbyn for his decades of public service to the British people, and for his longstanding solidarity with all oppressed peoples around the world, including his unflinching support for the Palestinian people. We stand in solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn and we recognise him as a principled leftist leader who aspires for peace and justice and is opposed to all forms of racism, whether directed at Jews, Palestinians, or any other group.
Ahmad Tibi MP Deputy speaker of parliament, Joint List/Arab Movement for Change
Masud Ganaim MP Joint List/United Arab List
Yousef Jabareen MP Joint List/Democratic Front for Peace and Equality
Jamal Zahalka MP Joint List/National Democratic Assembly
On behalf of all 13 members of the Knesset who are part of the Joint List