Haneen Zoabi attending the weekly Joint Arab list meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem. Feb. 8, 2016. (Photo/JTA-Yonatan Sindel-Flash90)
Haneen Zoabi attending the weekly Joint Arab list meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem. Feb. 8, 2016. (Photo/JTA-Yonatan Sindel-Flash90)

MK Haneen Zoabi’s Bay Area trip sparks Knesset hearing, Cal student petition

Israel’s Knesset Ethics Committee plans to hold a hearing on controversial MK Haneen Zoabi, in response to statements she made during an April 17 interview with J. and in a lecture later that evening at UC Berkeley, according to the Jerusalem Post.

While visiting the Bay Area last week, Zoabi, an outspoken member of the Arab party Joint List, spoke at an on-campus event organized by UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian. She also granted her first-ever interview with the American Jewish press to J. Editor Sue Fishkoff.

In her interview, published April 18, Zoabi described Israel as a “fascist state,” said Jews outside Israel have no claim on the land, and blasted liberal American Jews who do not reject the idea of a Jewish state.

“Anyone who is not anti-Zionist, who perceives himself as a left-wing Zionist, must recognize their complicity in the tragedy of the Palestinians,” Zoabi said. “You are either anti-Zionist and realize the colonialist dimension of Israel as a Jewish state, or you have to take responsibility for the oppression of the Palestinians.”

Citing sources on the Knesset committee, the Jerusalem Post reported that two unnamed MKs from “two very different parties, who are not extremists” submitted the complaints, and said they “will be dealt with” in the next two weeks.

Zoabi has been suspended by the Knesset in the past, most recently in March, when she was suspended for calling Israel Defense Forces soldiers “murderers.”

Meanwhile, Bazian, who lectures in Asian and Middle Eastern studies and is a founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, has come under fire from Tikvah, a pro-Israel student group, for inviting Zoabi to campus.

On April 18, the day after the talk organized by Bazian, Tikvah sent a letter to university Chancellor Carol Christ, asking that Bazian “be held accountable for inviting and hosting an anti-Semitic and terrorist-sympathizing speaker to this campus,” though they stopped short of making any specific demands such as suspension or firing.

“MK Haneen Zoabi’s presence on our campus once again proves that the UC Berkeley administration turns a blind eye to attacks on the Jewish and Israeli community at Cal,” the letter said.

This is not the first time Bazian has come under fire for statements regarding Israel and Jews. In December, he was criticized by Cal students and faculty over anti-Semitic tweets.

A spokeswoman for Zoabi told the Jerusalem Post that her office was unaware of the investigation. Bazian did not respond to J.’s request for comment.

The full Tikvah letter: