June 2, 2010Today the Knesset plenum witnessed an embarrassing display. The most important arena for public debate in Israel became an arena for brawling and verbal abuse.
Please understand: What happened in the Knesset today undermines the most important foundation of our existence here as a free country. There’s no doubt that it’s appropriate to hold a piercing discussion regarding the Gaza flotilla events. Passions are high, so it’s appropriate that the discussion should be passionate and intense. But the expletives heard today in the Knesset, the shoving, the raising of hands [against fellow Knesset members] have no place in a democratic arena.
We have always taken pride in the fact that, whatever arguments there are among us, even during most difficult times of controversy, we knew how to protect the foundation of democracy, to allow open debate, especially in the Knesset, which is the House of the People. This is democracy’s greatest test – not the calm discussions and tranquil situations, but precisely the difficult times, precisely in the face of infuriating opinions and statements. That’s when democracy is tested.
As a member of the Knesset of Israel, I am deeply pained by what happened here today. I and my friends in the camp of democracy will do everything we can to protect the Knesset, to protect Israeli democracy and freedom in the State of Israel. We are well aware that there are Knesset members, who represent constituencies with all sorts of political approaches, who have grown sick and tired of the Israeli democratic experience – there are those who are sick and tired of Israel, and others who are sick and tired of democracy. We will protect Israeli democracy for them as well.
We have no other country. We have no other democracy.
MK Nitzan Horowitz
Background: On June 2, the Knesset descended into violence, when Balad party MK Hanin Zoabi, who had taken part in the Gaza flotilla, rose to the podium to address the plenum. Zoabi is a Palestinian citizen of Israel who regards Zionism as inherently anti-democratic. Several Knesset members had to be forcibly removed from the plenum by ushers.