Kahol Lavan Lawmakers Denounce Colleague’s anti-Arab Bigotry

Yoaz Hendel is 'a white racist against Arabs and Mizrahim alike,' charged Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi

Yoaz Hendel.
Moti Milrod

Knesset members from Kahol Lavan and other parties condemned remarks made by Kahol Lavan MK Yoaz Hendel in an interview with Haaretz Hebrew edition Friday seen as insulting to Arabs and Jews of Middle Eastern or North African origin.

“There are people who came here from all kinds of countries; some came with the mentality of a concert in Vienna and some came with the mentality of darbukas,” Hendel told Ravit Hecht, referring to a type of goblet drum popular in the Middle East. He also called Arab culture “a jungle.”

“In the end, part of being in a progressive, Jewish, democratic country also creates a certain culture. It’s not just a culture of music, it’s a culture of organization, management, government, and it must be observed,” he said, adding, “I think that the Arab culture surrounding us is a jungle. There is a gross violation of every single human right that we recognize in the Western world. These rights haven’t even sprung up there. They haven’t reached the evolutionary stage of having human rights. There are no women’s rights, no LGBT rights, no minority rights and no education. Most Arab states are failed dictatorships, which is why the peace treaties we make here are limited to the leadership. It’s not peace between peoples because there is no education for peace and tolerance.”

MK Ofer Shelah (Kahol Lavan) said, “Yoaz Hendel’s remarks were miserable utterances that would better not have been said and don’t in any way reflect the spirit of Kahol Lavan.”

MK Orna Barbivai, also of Kahol Lavan, also rejected Hendel’s remarks. “I think we are all born equal and we don’t give out grades,” she said, in an interview with Ayala Hasson of the Kan public broadcaster. She called Hendel’s remarks superfluous and said, “I’m in favor of darbukas. But to deduce from this that Hendel is a racist would be an extreme statement.”

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) also criticized the remarks, saying, “While we are working for a left-wing government headed by [Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny] Gantz, there are Trojan horses in Kahol Lavan whose goal is to prevent such a government. We heard Hendel’s racist voice this week; these people are trying to prevent a change of government in Israel.”

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi called Hendel “a white racist against Arabs and Mizrahim alike. Hendel is not Tarzan; Hendel is the jungle. I adore [the Lebanese singer] Fairuz and the darbuka in the songs of [the late Egyptian singer] Umm Kulthum, and it’s almost certain that Hendel listens to Wagner every time the boot of the occupation tramples on Palestinians without human rights because of that Western culture that encourages settlements, dispossession and annexation. I despise his worldview and that of some of his friends who believe in Jewish supremacy.”