Do we live in a democratic country, or a halachic state? Asked Arab members of Knesset during a plenum debate on a rabbis' letter calling not to rent or sell apartments to non-Jews.
MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad) noted the rabbis' letter was not a segregated phenomenon. "They think their call fits with the spirit of the times; we need to blame the context, not only the text," she said, adding that "the Knesset is what gave the rabbis the courage to write the letter.
"Political views do not become legitimate unless they are supported by the establishment," Zoabi noted.
Referring to calls made against Azmi Bishara, MK Zoabi said: "A society that hears Knesset members call to assassinate another Knesset member; a society that wants to revoke the citizenship of a member of Knesset; is it really surprising – the rabbis' letter?
"Only yesterday MK (Arieh) Eldad said he will not rent an apartment to Arabs. The Knesset needs to rise against itself," she said.
Following MK Zoabi, MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) took the podium. "I have no doubt that the rabbis' letter would not of gained such momentum without the message transmitted by the Knesset – which legislates laws against the Arab public on an almost daily basis."
"If we want to fight this, we must start the war here," he asserted.
MK El-Sana said that "photos of these anti-Semite racists must be published around the world, and they should be persecuted as anti-Semites and racists, because they are no better than Bin Laden."
'Declaration of war'
MK Hanna Swaid (Hadash) noted that the content of the letter "was a declaration of war on Arabs in Israel, with the acquiescence of Israel's government."
Swaid added the problem did not only concern Israeli Arabs, but the entire nation and State of Israel. "The authorities have been dragging their feet until now – and it doesn’t seem anything is about to change. It's a slippery slope that will lead to Arabs being forbidden to ride the bus and sit in restaurants with Jews. We are not far away from apartheid in Israel."
Non-Arab members of Knesset also expressed indignation; MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) wondered, "How could it be that rabbis, who are our spiritual teachers, sign a letter like this in the State of Israel – the state of the Jewish people?
"I am ashamed that this sort of thing is happening in my country. If we don’t nip this phenomenon in the bud, it will come back this way or the other," he said.
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