The debate on the legitimacy of some of Israel's Arab Knesset members usually boils down to the issue of freedom of speech. "A democratic state can and should allow harsh and even outrageous criticism," say various champions of democracy, usually from the left side of the political spectrum. The Right, on the other hand, tends to be less forgiving, arguing that "we must not allow criticism that constitutes incitement against State itself and harms it."
However, in light of the latest declarations made by Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi, it appears that both sides of the debate are getting it wrong. The core of the issue has long ago deviated from the debate on the very right of Knesset members to utter foolish words; by now it pertains to the State of Israel's national security.
Ms. Zoabi crossed the red line more than a year ago, when she joined the "flotilla of peace" to Gaza, where activists displayed their pacifist tendencies by beating IDF soldiers with iron rods. The honorable MK of course claimed that she was unaware of the presence of any weapons onboard, despite being photographed near armed peace lovers, yet her very presence on the Mavi Marmara constituted active solidarity with our worst enemies.
Yet now it turns out that Zoabi does not make do with souvenir photos near Turkish terrorists, but rather, holds a deep desire for the real thing – dirty dancing with Hamas. As opposed to her past denials, this time Zoabi admitted that she indeed met Hamas members, yet her statements on the issue constitute a grave warning sign, and especially the following quote: "The entire world recognizes Hamas now and I think it's time Israel did so as well. We don't consider Hamas to be a terror organization."
Revoke her rights at onceBeyond the fact that Zoabi again displays her "confusion," or rather, her tendency to twist reality in line with her own twisted views (after all, most of the Western world does not recognize Hamas' government, but certainly views the movement as a terrorist organization,) the very legitimacy she grants Gaza's terrorists should be a grave concern to us all.
In Zoabi's view, a group whose activity is highlighted by blowing up buses, butchering civilians at coffee shops and firing rockets at residential buildings does not engage in terror. This implies that any meeting with members of such organization, not to mention active support and assistance, are permitted and even desirable.
While Israel's citizens, both Arab and Jewish, are certainly permitted to espouse delusional or odd views, Hanin Zoabi is not a regular citizen. As an MK she is granted access to the holy of holies of Israel's democracy, the Knesset, as well as various other privileges and immunities. One cannot discount the possibility that one of these days, she may decide to put her extra rights at the service of Hamas – after all, she claims that the Jewish state is the real terrorist, while the Gaza group is merely an innocent victim of Israel's occupation.
In this equation, aiding Hamas in carrying out actions that Zoabi considers legitimate would constitute the proper moral choice, according to her worldview at least.
Some will say that the burden of proof lies with law enforcement authorities, and that as long as we cannot prove that Zoabi intends to commit such offences we should not revoke her privileges. This argument may have held water had the danger posed by the Zoabi been minimal. However, in this case we are dealing with a citizen who enjoys almost unfettered access to many of the State of Israel's most sensitive junctions. Hence, we do not have the luxury or moral right to assume such grave risk.
The combination of Zoabi's radical views and her exceptional capacity, given her position as MK, to cause grave damage to the State and its citizens makes her a clear and present danger to our national security. One may debate whether she belongs behind bars, yet by now there is no question that she does not belong in Israel's Knesset. We must revoke her extra privileges as a parliamentarian at once, before she uses them at Hamas' service.