Ibtisam Mara’ana

Israeli election and the never-ending racism against Palestinians

Israel’s Central Elections Committee decided to ban Ibtisam Mara’ana, a Palestinian candidate for the Israeli Labor Party, from running in the upcoming elections.

By Orly Noy

Few things would have been more predictable than the disqualification of Ibtisam Mara’ana by the Israeli Knesset Central Election Committee.

Elections do not get imprimatur of being for real in Israel until Jewish Knesset members demonstrate their proud racism against Palestinian representatives — especially women, because why give up the opportunity to demonstrate some misogyny in a buy- one-get-one-free bargain? It’s useless perennial ritual that is always overturned by the Supreme Court. But tradition is tradition, and if there is one thing that [TV commentator] Avishai Ben-Haim taught us, it is the importance of tradition for Israelis folks.

What they dug up and found in Mara’ana’s jottings to attack her and delegitimise her is a truly ancient status in which she wrote that she didn’t stop her car during the siren of Holocaust Day and continued on driving. “I did not stand still for the siren. Those were two wonderful minutes to keep on thinking about what really interested me at that moment.” This is the status in question, and I will get to it later.

But before that, it might be worth mentioning that there is no law in the State of Israel compelling you to stand still for the siren, and that is a good thing. So not only did Mara’ana not break any law, but she refrained from doing something that the ultra-Orthodox in the throngs make a point of not doing every Memorial Day, as they regard standing still for the siren as a gentile custom. No one has ever tried to disqualify an ultra-Orthodox slate because of it. But the Jews expect extra sensitivity to their deaths from the Palestinians.

Why, actually? Do we show such great sensitivity to their dead? Did the police show great respect for the dead when they abducted the body of the late Yacoub Abu Al-Qia’an, whom they themsleves killed, as a bargaining chip to prevent a mass funeral? Where was all this sensitivity to the dead then? Was it in the despicable incitement of [Minister] Arden and [Police Commissioner] Alsheikh who rushed to call him a terrorist even before his body had cooled down?

In general, does the State of Israel itself respect the memory of the victims of the Holocaust so much so that it is completely incapable of tolerating the thought that a young Palestinian woman will not stand still in their memory? how exactly? By desecrating the memorial site in their memory again and again by officially hosting murderers, carriers of genocide and war criminals on the spot? Is it really worse not to stand still for the siren than to host a mad leader at Yad Vashem who has declared his admiration for Hitler?

And a word about the Ibtisam’s status itself. If I had read it in the book, I would have thought it a beautiful image of the temporary freedom of the oppressed, which is possible only when the oppressor paralyses themselves for a moment by the forces of the past in a trap from which they are incapable of freeing themselves. But these things are not taken from a book, but from a reality in which everyone also fulfills the role assigned to them, including the court, which will allow Ibtisam to enter the Knesset and continue her role in this miserable show there as well.

Translated from Hebrew by Sol Salbe, Middle East News Service

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