Last night (2 May 2012), MK Haneen Zo’bi (Tajmu’ / Balad) initiated a discussion in the Kenesset about the events of the Zionist ‘independence day’ in which activists from Zochrot attempted to commemorate the Nakba in a symbolic direct action at Rabin square and were brutally suppressed by the police. Three activists were arrested that night, one of them for merely reading names of destroyed Palestinian villages aloud.
MK Zo’bi expressed her dismay at this suppression of the democratic right to protest and argued that police violence towards activists reflects the state’s fear from dissent and in fact from its own citizens.
Limor Livnat, minister of culture and sports responded on behalf of the Israeli government, and her response is worth quoting at length because it contradicts every single eye witness account from that night as well as multiple videotaped evidence:
“The Offices of Zochrot are located on Maneh street, in close proximity to Rabin square, in the area that was closed for traffic that night. Zochrot’s activists arrives to the area carrying signs with names of Arab villages in order to protest, something that was not coordinated with the police… However, the police erected barricades and allowed the protest to go on. I repeat: the police allowed the protest to go on. I wish to stress that at no time there was a siege on the building; no entrances or exits were blocked, and whoever wished to leave could do so.
Because the police was concerned about a provocation which would result in endangering public safety, it prohibited the activists from walking into the festivities with their banners, but they were allowed to carry them within their enclosed area. During the event, one of the protesters started chanting in praise of shahids, you know, terrorists, murderers of Jews, in order to provoke; he was asked to cease but refused and therefore arrested and interrogated.
As for Zochrot, I checked out their website and looked at the map, and saw marked with spots all over; spots, spots spots, all over the country, and not in Judea and Sumaria or Gaza, but all over the state of Israel; In Tel Aviv, Beit Shemesh, Bat Yam, in Beit Shean. Therefore, in your eyes this is an occupied territory, and you say that as you sit in a parliament of a democracy that does not exist in any Arab country. You sit here in the Kenesset that allows you to use this forum to incite and spread hatred towards the Israeli public, the same public that allowed you to board that ship of hatred [the Mavi Marmara]. What other state would allow you to do this? you stand here, you receive full citizenship rights, yet you abuse them in order to incite against the state, praise the shahids and then complain about the police actions against this NGO, which aims to incite..
This was followed by some ad hominem attack against MK Zo’bi and a rather loud argument between Zo’bi, Livnat and chairwoman Levi-Abuksis. The final vote excluded this issue from being included in the Kenesset agenda.”
MK Zo’bi vowed to press the matter further through the media. Zochrot is about to issue a statement to the press.