Israeli High Court allows Heba Yazbak to participate in elections

Israeli court allows MK Heba Yazbak to contest March 2 election. (AFP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Israeli High Court allows Heba Yazbak to participate in elections

AMMAN: The Israeli High Court ruled on Feb. 9 that Heba Yazbak, a member of Knesset (MK), will be allowed to run in the March 2 Israeli elections despite an overwhelming vote in Knesset calling for her disqualification.

Head of the Joint Arab List Ayman Odeh praised the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying that efforts to incite against Arabs have crashed. 

“The campaign of political incitement of the extreme right crashed before the realities of the law,” Odeh said. “Anyone who supported disqualifying her should be ashamed. MK Yazbak will continue in the next Knesset fighting for peace, equality and democracy for all.”

Salwa Hdeeb, a member of the Fatah central committee, told Arab News that Israel tries to gag Palestinian voices in general, and especially voices within Knesset. 

“Heba Yazbak has an audience and is popular because she is able to touch people with her strong legal knowledge of Israeli policies. They are provoked by her quiet demeanor yet strong position that angers her enemies and makes her a target for the extreme Israeli right-wing.”

Hdeeb said that Yazbak has supported Palestinians in Jerusalem whose homes were threatened with demolition by Israel, and she had done the same with the people of the village of Araqbeen in Israel. 

“She has also defended Palestinian political prisoners and said in an official document to the Knesset that they are prisoners of war. She has also stood by the people of Jerusalem defending Al-Aqsa from Jewish extremists.”

Experts in gender issues say that attacks against strong Palestinian women have become a prevailing phenomenon in Israeli society. It appears that articulate Arab women bring out the worst in Israelis who fear such women because they challenge the stereotype that they have of Palestinian women.

The campaign of political incitement of the extreme right crashed before the realities of the law.

Ayman Odeh, Head of the Joint Arab List

Afaf Jaabari, a lecturer in gender and migration at the University of East London, told Arab News that Israelis fear such independent women because it threatens one of the tenants of worldwide support for Israel. 

“Israel has worked on gaining world sympathy precisely on the basis of being a democracy that respects human rights and that they are dealing with barbaric backward people. Women like Yazbak and before that Haneen Zoubi, Ahed Tamimi and member of the Palestinian legislature Khalida Jarrar destroys that narrative.”

Yazbak, who has a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in sociology and anthropology, and is a member of the Joint List from the Balad party, was threatened with disqualification for her support of Palestinian and Arab nationalists and former prisoners. Right-wing Israeli attackers consider her to have praised terrorism and asked the Israeli high court to remove her from the Arab Joint list for the upcoming Israeli Knesset elections.

Tamar Zandberg, head of the left-wing Meretz faction, called on the Right to accept the ruling on Yazbak and not “incite as usual against Arabs and the courts.” The Likud called the ruling “shameful.”

Yazbak has vowed to “continue to work for political and civil justice, against the occupation and against racism, discrimination and incitement.”

The left-wing Israeli journalist and political analyst, Anat Saragusti, said that the issue was about discrimination and a struggle of narratives. Saragusti told Arab News: “It is sad to see how opinionated and strong Palestinian women get a misogynist attitude as if they are not entitled to have an independent world view.”


Hosni Mubarak: Egypt's warrior leader left his mark on Middle East history

Mubarak in air force uniform in 1975. (AFP)
Updated 8 min 19 sec ago

Hosni Mubarak: Egypt's warrior leader left his mark on Middle East history

  • While some may disagree with Mubarak’s legacy, his love for the country that he ruled for 30 years cannot be denied
  • The Egyptian leader died at a Cairo hospital at the age of 91 following health complications

CAIRO: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who passed away on Tuesday, ruled Egypt for 30 years. His rule began in a spirit of reform, with the release of political prisoners, support for the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press and a great deal of tolerance for his political opponents.

What is certain is that Mubarak’s role in the contemporary history of Egypt lies mainly in the military, as he belonged to a generation of warrior leaders. He was chosen by Gamal Abdel Nasser after the defeat of 1967, when he was a colonel, in order to rebuild the destroyed air force and prepare it for the victory of October 1973.
Some may disagree about Mubarak’s legacy, but it is unfair and transgressive to underestimate his value and role as a pilot.
I will not forget a comment, from a friend of mine from the Gulf, on the change he witnessed in the character of Egypt during the country’s rush to try Mubarak, and even execute him, after his fall. “The crisis that the Egyptian people suffer from is that, for the first time, they have lost their two most important characteristics: Patience and tolerance,” he told me.
I will also never forget the comment of an English friend during Mubarak’s trial, and his transfer from his home to the hospital, and from there to the courtroom cage that had been specially built for him, and then to prison. At that time, my friend wondered: “Didn’t Mubarak fight with the army one day?” I replied: “He even participated in three wars: The Suez war in 1956, the June 1967 war, and finally the October 1973 war, which was truly the most important victory in the history of the Arabs.” The man marveled at the insult Mubarak had to endure, saying: “Had he been in my country, the situation would have been different.”

He resigned as president in 2011, ushering in elections won by the Muslim Brotherhood. (AP)

For sure, Mubarak belonged to the generation of great warrior leaders, and that is an undeniable role that cannot be erased. At the same time, he was the ruler of Egypt for 30 years, and he is certainly subject to criticism, agreements and differences.

It is possible to explain a part of Mubarak’s behavior on the eve of his removal from power in order to preserve the blood of the Egyptians, and his decision to remain in the country, by saying that he was a leader who fought for the sake of Egypt. He did not kill tens of thousands or destroy cities to remain in power. He did not run away from the accusations leveled against him. Rather, he was tried in his country as a former president — acquitted in some cases and convicted in one — which gave a symbolic value to Egypt.
I still remember when he said to me with love and pride, after I interviewed him in 2009, how he preserved all of Egypt’s history and topography, and how he had visited all of its cities. He spoke with a real passion, one that explains why he did not leave the country when he abdicated.
The trials of the former president were not the most severe acts against him — that,  I think, was the moment when his successors decided to withdraw all the medals and decorations he had received from him. I think that was the most difficult moment.
Many believe — and I am one of them — that a politician’s accountability for his errors should be in political action. I do not agree that accountability and justice for what are deemed political errors should be meted out through the use of vindictive punishments.

His final years as president saw rising discontent against him. (AFP)

There are those who considered Mubarak’s reign as three decades of darkness and dictatorship, of looting, corruption and retreat, but it can be noticed that the number of these people has decreased significantly during recent years. On the other hand, there is a large sector that believes Mubarak made right and wrong decisions, and these people believe that, had Mubarak decided to withdraw from public life after the death of his grandson in 2009, and the surgery he underwent, he would have had a distinguished position in the hearts of the Egyptians. There is a third group that calls itself “Mubarak’s children.” These people find in their former president nothing but good, and their position was strengthened because of the way the Muslim Brotherhood ruled.
So, as we see, there are understandable difference in assessing Mubarak’s legacy. What was not understood, however, was the sweeping and overpowering attack not on Mubarak the president, but on Mubarak the fighter pilot — Mubarak the man.
God was merciful to him. He gave him the chance to see a large part of his rehabilitation after he suffered a lot during the long months following the fall of his regime in 2011. He was ultimately cleared of all charges but, more importantly, he began to talk again about the role of the air force. His memoirs, which he wrote when he was vice president, were published to show him as a military commander and a fighter pilot who fought for his country.
For many Egyptians, it seemed he had been helped through  divine intervention. He entered intensive care about a month ago. A few days before his death, he received the news that his sons, Alaa and Gamal, had been acquitted in their final case. And one of the last things Mubarak said, according to his lawyer, Farid Al-Deeb, after he learned of the news of the innocence of his two sons, was: “Praise be to God. Our Lord has done justice to us after so many years.”
People will always remember that Mubarak gave a real margin to political forces and the media throughout his rule. This was one of the reasons he remained in power for so long, and was not the cause of his downfall.


Dr. Abdellatif El-Menawy is a critically acclaimed multimedia journalist, writer and columnist who has covered war zones and conflicts worldwide. Twitter: @ALMenawy