While Jewish people can proudly point to the fact that there are a disproportionate number of Jews in those fields and professions that require extensive education, those same values that encourage learning also inspire passionate debate. You can be sure that if two Jews get into an argument, you will hear at lest 3-4 distinct opinions expressed. So imagine what goes on in the Israeli Knesset where are there 120 members?
At a meeting today of Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee, two members got into a heated exchange. Member of Knesset (MK) Ghaleg Majadele, who by the way, is of Arab descent, and Yisrael Beiteinu MK, Anastassia Michaeli, went after each other verbally in classic Knesset style. But in this instance, the yelling ended when Michaeli threw a glass of water at Majadele and stormed out of the room. (Can you say: “nanananana!” in a childish voice?)
In defending her actions, Michaeli later invoked the strategy that the best defense is to be on the offense; she accused the Labor MK of being disrespectful to her because of her gender: “Majadele will learn not to insult women. He hurt the honor of the Knesset and of this place,” she told reporters later.
The problem of course is that you can’t play the gender-victim card when you behave like a child while playing with the big boys. Michaeli’s right-wing party, Yisrael Biteinu, (Israel is OUR Land,) has little interest in or use for Israelis of Arab descent or for that matter, Jewish people with progressive ideas. As is par for the course with the political right, Yisrael Biteinu has introduced all kinds of legislation in recent years that would make it virtually impossible for Israeli Arabs to feel comfortable with being citizens of the Jewish State. They’ve also offered numerous pieces of legislation that would hamper the activities of civil rights groups who put human rights ahead of their brand of chauvinistic nationalism.
The Majadele – Michaeli argument was all about the fact that the Arab Knesset Member and some of his students participated in a human rights march in the Arab town of Arara in the Galilee. Can you imagine, the nerve of a minority member of a legislative body fighting for human rights?
Let’s be honest, the political right in most countries would prefer that groups they deem as undesirable behave like Uncle Tom’s by being docile, loyal and obedient to the majority. You know, behave like a Herman Cain type. To give an American frame of reference to this story, can you imagine a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant member of the U.S. Congress calling the President of the United States a liar while he is addresses the world?
In spite of Michaeli’s attempt to play the victim, Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin has indicated that he will be filing a complaint against Michaeli with the Knesset’s Ethics Committee.