Israeli Arab Lawmaker Takes Fire for Slamming Hospitalized ex-President Peres

'He is one of the main pillars of the Zionist colonial settler project,' Basel Ghattas says.

President Shimon Peres adressing members of the Foreign Press Association during a visit in Sderot, Israel, July 06, 2014.
AFP

Politicians in both the government and opposition blasted MK Basel Ghattas (Joint List) on Wednesday after the Arab legislator harshly criticized Shimon Peres as the former president lay hospitalized in serious condition after a stroke.

On Facebook, Ghattas called Peres a “tyrant” and a leader responsible for war crimes.

“Is he reaching the end of his road, Shimon Peres? We don’t know. The man has nine lives, but without a doubt he's on his last stretch,” Ghattas wrote.

“We have to remember that he is one of the main pillars of the Zionist colonial settler project and, in light of the results, is one of the worst extremists, someone who lived a long life and caused the most damage to the Palestinian and other Arab peoples,” he added.

“Peres managed, despite all these descriptions, to portray himself as a dove of peace, and even won a Nobel Peace Prize. Peres wouldn’t have achieved this without our direct and indirect deliberate and unintentional help.”

Basel Ghattas
Michal Fattal

As Ghattas put it, “So at least when he’s about to die, we have to remember his true essence as a tyrant, being directly responsible for the crimes and war crimes that he committed against us. Our blood covers him from head to toe, and we won't rush to participate in the tribal festival of collective grieving and loss.”

Politicians on both the center-left and right criticized Ghattas.

MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) said Ghattas’ post was “horrifying and disgusting, in addition to being false and inflammatory. Unfortunately Ghattas is choosing to continue to sow destruction and hate, and to use dark words against the man who contributed more than anyone to the rehabilitation of Israeli and Arab society, and certainly to the issue of coexistence and peace with the Palestinians.”

As MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) put it, “Ghattas is trying to grab headlines in the most pathetic way. Since he was elected to the Knesset, I haven’t seen him do a single worthy thing for the quality of life of Israeli Arabs, whether it was worth headlines or not. What motivates him is not just hatred of Israel but also envy. While Peres has a series of achievements to his credit in Israeli public life, even if some of them are controversial, Ghattas doesn’t have a single one.”

MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) added, “Time after time MK Ghattas has managed to amaze me with his terrible statements. This time his barbs were aimed at our ninth president while he was sedated and on a respirator. The man isn’t worthy of the title Knesset member, and in my opinion he doesn’t really want it except to provoke.”

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said, “This is the best proof that there’s no one to talk to, and all the Palestinians want is to destroy things and put an end to Israel’s existence.”

Ghattas later released his own statement. “The media buzz around my post is hysterical and incomprehensible,” he said.

“All I did was write my opinion, which reflects how the man is perceived in the Palestinian narrative and collective memory as one of the central leaders of the Zionist enterprise. This is a political position and opinion that has no connection to my humane position toward Mr. Peres and his family during this difficult time.”