Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was heckled by an Arab Israeli member of parliament during a speech in which he slammed those who call Israel an “apartheid” state. Knesset member Ahmed Tibi later stomped out of the room as Harper was speaking.
Harper is an ardent supporter of Israel and voiced that position during his speech in Jerusalem, telling Israeli lawmakers, “through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”
He criticized those who support a boycott of Israel, equating it with historical anti-Semitism.
“On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students. Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state,” Harper said during his Monday evening address.
“Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening,” the Canadian prime minister added.
During this part of the speech, Tibi shouted, “settlements!” referring to Jewish communities in the West Bank, also referred to as Judea and Samaria. He then called out “water and electricity,” presumably referring to Israeli Arab claims of discrimination over resources.
Clearly fed up, Tibi shouted to Harper, “You should sit there, sir, in the Likud position. There is your place.”
Despite Tibi’s reaction, the vast majority of the 120 members of Knesset gave the Canadian leader a standing ovation.
Tibi later told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that he heckled and stormed out to protest what he characterized as Harper’s bias.
Earlier, Tibi heckled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while the latter was at the podium. Netanyahu said he wished there were “real parliaments” in the Arab world, including Syria.
“In our parliament, anyone can say anything they want,” Netanyahu said, according to a translation by Israel National News. While in Israel – a free country – lawmakers can criticize the government, “this is not possible in Damascus and other places,” he said.
Tibi called out in English, saying that “there is no water or electricity in his village,” pointing to Arab Member of Knesset Taleb a-Sana. “Perhaps in Syria they have such things.”
To this Netanyahu said: “I haven’t found any Arabs who wish to leave the State. Quite the opposite; Arabs gave been very upset at a proposal by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman that would redraw Israel’s boundaries and include many Israeli Arabs in a Palestinian state.”
Tibi then said, “This is our homeland.”
Earlier this month, Israeli Arabs reacted bitterly to the Israeli foreign minister’s proposal to swap land with the Palestinians, which would transfer sovereignty over several large Arab villages currently in Israel to the Palestinian Authority.
Despite deep criticism of the Israeli government such as Tibi’s, and claims of being treated like second class citizens, Israeli Arabs suggested they would refuse to give up their Israeli citizenship.