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With Pence Visiting, It Took 10 Seconds and the Knesset Was Empty of Arabs

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Joint List MKs being forcibly removed from the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 22, 2018.
Joint List MKs being forcibly removed from the Knesset in Jerusalem, January 22, 2018.Credit: Emil salman

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was enchanted! He uttered the word “democracy” after the embarrassing spectacle of the Joint List MKs being removed from the hall. He must have been enchanted by Israeli democracy, not by the Joint Arab List MKs who waved a few signs that no one saw. No, he was likely enthralled by its prowess; in just 10 seconds, “our forces” had overpowered “the enemy” and the Knesset was cleared of Arabs and their Jewish supporters.

Everything transpired to the loud cheers of the Jewish officials who were present, including the Israeli president, who tossed statesmanship aside and enthusiastically applauded the disgraceful scene. Let it be noted, though, that the president’s wife, Nehama Rivlin, maintained her composure and did not get carried away by the cheering crowd.

MK Dov Henin, noting the significance of the brutal event, wrote on Twitter: “The removal of an entire faction from a Knesset session is an unprecedented move. Apparently they want to show what democracy really looks like in Israel.” Aside from Henin, not a single Jewish MK was willing to identify with the Arab MKs and say – I cast my lot with you, my Arab brothers.

>> Removal of Arab lawmakers during Pence's speech: A sad moment for Israeli democracy <<

The Knesset on Monday was at its most pathetic. Seriously, what can one expect from the coalition, from Yesh Atid or from the Zionist Union? But what about the Meretz MKs? They sat there wholly unperturbed, as if a piece of fluff had landed on their shirt and was easily brushed off. They continued to sit there – nice and neat, not a hair out of place, as befitting well-behaved pupils. For shame.

As I watched the incident, I thought about what awaits the asylum seekers due to be expelled to Africa. Perhaps those who expelled the Joint List MKs are also supposed to deal with the asylum seekers. Perhaps what happened yesterday in the Knesset was the final drill before the real expulsion. Perhaps after the impressive television display of the removal, someone announced: The exercise was a success, the expulsion can go ahead.

So thanks are due to the Joint List. If there were no Arabs here, they would have had to invent them. Thousands of Jewish citizens – hearing remarks that, besides justifying the occupation and the oppression of Palestinians, were all about groveling to one of the most ignorant and extreme figures in the United States – were looking for someone to provide a moral response. Maybe they found solace in the mighty stand of the Joint List MKs.

So a thank you goes out to the Joint List, a flicker of light in the darkness of the consensus.

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