June 21, 2012
Ramon vs. Tibi
Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon died aboard the Columbia in the 2003 disaster. As astronauts do, Ramon became an inspiration for the pursuit of science and education; Having had his own personal merits, Ramon also became a symbol for decency, peace and excellence. And now, a national foundation is proposing a space center named after Ramon in the Arab town of Taibe. A national space center promoting education and science in an Arab town - sounds like an excellent choice.
But Parliament member Ahmed Tibi, a Taibe native, is angry. In his view having an institution named after Ramon in an Arab town is a poke in the eye, as Ramon was a fighter pilot prior to being an astronaut (standard procedure for those selected few), and that’s a big no-no for Tibi.
Ahmed Tibi’s biography clearly displays the impossible duality Israeli Arabs live in. He was a political advisor to Yasser Arafat, and even represented the Palestinian side in the talks with Israel at Wye River in 1998; But since 1999 he’s an elected member of the Knesset - the Israeli parliament, for which he currently serves as the Deputy Speaker.
Tibi would not miss an opportunity to sabotage an opportunity for coexistence between Jews and Arabs. He’d support his stance with fiery arguments of nationalism and honor, willingly discounting any other consideration as lesser to a holy cause. His constituents, whose elected official argues for their denial of the benefits of coexistence, such as progress, integration and education, continue for over a decade to automatically vote him into the Knesset.
Azmi Bishara, leader of ‘Balad’, the party in which Ahmed Tibi had started his Israeli political career, was similarly elected for 11 consecutive years as Parliament member before fleeing Israel in 2007, when it was revealed that he had allegedly assisted Hizbullah in its war against Israel. Anyone who believes in coexistence and the prospect of peace between Jews and Arabs would like to think that Israeli Arabs are not as radical and rejectionists as the representatives they elect - at least not these two.
Palestinian society has been plagued with radical, hateful leaders who’d do anything to prevent their people from evolving and being rewarded with peace. From Hitler’s buddy Haj Amin Al-Husseini, through Yasser Arafat, a Nobel Peace Prize winning war lover who systematically stole food from the mouths of the very people who believed in him as a symbol, to the shamelessly violent religious leaders of Hammas, Islmaic Jihad, and the rest of the lot. Leaders who would do anything to prevent coexistence, leaders who’d sacrifice education, prosperity, culture and the future - all for the sake of delusional nationalism.
So there you have it, a telling representation of the forces that shape Arab-Israeli relations: