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Ray Hanania
Ray Hanania
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Israel Continues to Embrace Racist Double Standards

Comment

This week, Israel's extremist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed that the Knesset expel Arab members who recently met with the families of suspects killed by Israeli forces without trial on charges of "terrorism."

At least three Israeli Arab legislators who make up a very small part of Israel's political system, Basel Ghattas, Jamal Zahalke and Haneen Zoabi, met with the families of 10 civilians who have been accused of terrorist violence. As of 2015, only 17 of the Knesset 120 members are Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.

Israel often kills non-Jews, be the citizens of Israel or occupied civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, who are accused of committing acts of violence or who also engage in peaceful protests against Israel's policies and Arab citizens of Israel have complained the killings are intentional and without judicial review.

Netanyahu has refused to release the bodies of the 10 victims, claiming he will only do so if the Palestinians don't turn the burials of the victims into "political events," according to Israel's government-constrained news media.

The threat against the three Knesset members only further exposes the hypocrisy that exists in Israel that Jewish Israelis try to hide. The fact is, if you are a Jew in Israel — including those who immigrate from other foreign countries — you get freedoms, government support and privileges that non-Jews who were born in the country and whose ancestors have lived for centuries are denied.

The problem with all this is that none of the suspects who were killed were ever given a trial. In many cases, they were just shot dead. In some cases, they were beaten to death by Jewish Israelis who are allowed to carry weapons and are armed all the time.

Israel, however, goes to great lengths to give Jews who are accused of crimes against non-Jews the opportunity to defend themselves. Most of those involved in crimes against non-Jews are released with no punishment, and only a few actually face serious criminal judicial review or punishment.

Israel doesn't believe that Jews are criminals, which explains why they have fought for so many years to free Jonathan Pollard, an American citizen and former U.S. Intelligence analyst who passed along secret information to Israel's government that exposed many Americans overseas to harm.

Netanyahu defended the action of the Israeli Attorney General to investigate the three Arab Israeli members of the Knesset, asserting that the United States would do the same.

Of course, that is ridiculous.

Scores of African Americans accused of being engaged in violence have been shot and killed by police in cities across America during the past several years and elected government officials have met with the victims' families.

The public is often divided about whether the shootings have been right or wrong, but in America, Americans of all races and religious beliefs are allowed to express their viewpoint, challenge the official government version of events — especially involving killings — and engage in a public debate.

Not in Israel, of course. Although Israel claims to be a democracy — to make its citizens feel better about the criminal conduct of their government - free speech by non-Jews is censored and many non-Jews critical of Israel are detained, questioned, arrested and even killed.

Ziad Abu Ein, a minister in the government of Occupied Palestine, was killed by Israeli soldiers during a peaceful protest in December 2014 against Israel's occupation policies. The Israelis censored the investigation and prohibited Palestinians from investigating the causes of his murder. And the media, which is controlled by Israel and censors writings that "go too far," failed to properly investigate the killing.

But that's how it is in "Democratic Israel" when non-Jews are killed by Jews. In 1994, when American-Israeli Baruch Goldstein machine-gunned to death 29 Palestinian Muslims and wounded 125 others who were praying in their mosque in Hebron, the Israeli government never imposed any punishments on his relatives or family. They didn't destroy their home. They didn't expel them. They didn't punish Israelis officials who met with his family.

Arabs and non-Jews are held to a discriminatory standard. The three Arab Israeli legislators rejected Netanyahu's assertions and said they visited the families only to help them recover the bodies of the suspects.

Even though the Israeli Attorney General insists no charges will be filed until a criminal report is completed, the fact is the declaration from Netanyahu's office reflects the inherent bias and discrimination that is Israel itself. It is a bullying tactic intended to quell criticism of Israel misconduct, illegal conduct and even Jewish violence.

Whether official charges are filed, or even if the charges are dropped, the very assertion that the Arab Israeli members should be expelled from the Knesset proves Israel's government is not interested in peace with non-Jews.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist, managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, and writer at Al Jazeera English. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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