Joint List Speaker Says ISIS Crimes Inspired by Zionism

Arab party leaders distance themselves from remarks. Lieberman: 'Proof that the High Court erred in allowing Haneen Zoabi to run for the Knesset.

Rami Shlush

Islamic State (ISIS) draws inspiration from Zionism, the head of the Joint List’s communication unit, Raja Za’atra, said Tuesday at a panel at Bar-Ilan University. “Where did ISIS learn those crimes? Look at what the Zionist movement did in 1948: rape, plunder, murder, massacre, that were carried out in these areas too,” Za’atra said.

Za’atra, a member of the secretariat of the Jewish-Arab party Hadash, one of the components of the Joint List, made the remarks as a participant on a panel discussing the upcoming elections.

When asked whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, Za’atra said it is not. “Hamas is a legitimate part of the Palestinian people. A people under occupation has a right to resist the occupation,” he said.

The Joint List issued a statement in response to Za’atra’s remarks, saying: “The remarks were made in response to a provocation by one of the panel’s participants, who claimed that ISIS learned its actions from the Joint List. The Joint List condemns the actions of the criminals of ISIS.”

The Joint List called a meeting Tuesday of the heads of the factions and their advisers to stop members of the slate, in the last week before the elections, from expressing themselves in ways that could cost them votes.

“All statements become headlines because everyone understands that the Joint List will be the third largest party in the next Knesset and now they are aiming at the list,” a senior figure in the party’s communications unit said. Party sources said that the attack on it began with the decision not to sign a surplus vote agreement with Meretz, and continued Tuesday following Za’atra’s remarks.

Zionist Union said in response to Za’atra’s remarks: “We expect the leaders of the Joint List to distance themselves immediately from the scandalous comparison between Israel and ISIS, as well as the statement that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. The comparison between beheadings that lack any semblance of humanity and a people reestablishing itself and contributing greatly to the world is intolerable and shows ignorance and hatred. We believe that the Arab citizens of Israel expect the Joint List to promote their rights and needs, and solve their economic and social problems, not fan incitement and lies that will attain the opposite. It is very regrettable that spokesmen for the Joint List are hurting the will of the Jewish and the Arab public for coexistence.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded on his Facebook page to Za’atra’s remarks, saying that they are “proof that the High Court of Justice made a serious mistake when it allowed Haneen Zoabi to run for the Knesset. The High Court justices who legitimized the terrible things that Zoabi did and said over recent years have led to the fact that now that Za’atra allows himself to say things that in any other country would lead to the immediate revocation of his citizenship and his removal from the country. Right after the elections in the new Knesset we will work so that this will be the case in Israel too, and the High Court will not be able to strike down Knesset laws and decisions of the Central Election Committee,” Lieberman wrote.