Jamal Zahalka is an Arab member of the Knesset who complained at the UN's World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Tolerance in Geneva that he's a victim of "Israeli racist apartheid."
Hamed Bitawi is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who was shot and wounded by a Palestinian security officer as he walked out of a mosque in the West Bank city of Nablus. This incident occurred almost at the same time that Zahalka was depicting himself as a victim of racism and apartheid.
Also while Zahalka was spewing his hate statements, the authorities in Kuwait arrested Khalifa al-Kharafi, an election candidate, for criticizing members of the ruling al-Sabah family.
Another Kuwaiti parliamentarian candidate was arrested days earlier over a similar issue. Former Islamist MP Daifallah Buramia had been quoted as saying that the country's defense minister, a senior member of the royal family, was incapable of becoming prime minister.
In Lebanon, four parliament members have been assassinated since the killing of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
The spree of assassinations, believed to be ordered by Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, prompted 40 members of the Lebanese parliament to hide in a heavily-guarded hotel in Beirut for several weeks.
In Jordan, former lawmaker Toujan al-Faial was convicted and sentenced a few years ago to 18 months in jail for “harming the state’s dignity” when she accused a former prime minister and his cabinet of financial corruption. The Jordanian government now claims that she is ineligible to run for Parliament. Al-Faisal declared in response: "Here, the head of a corrupt government decides who can and cannot run for office. They want a Parliament that won’t hold the government accountable for corruption.”
These are only a few examples of the dangers facing members of parliament in the Arab world. But as far as Zahalka, the Arab member of the Knesset, is concerned, the plight of his Arab fellow parliamentarians is not an important case worth mentioning at the Durban II conference.
Zahalka forgot to mention in his speech that thanks to Israeli "apartheid" and "racism," he is a democratically elected member of the Knesset. He also forgot that when he was sworn in, he voluntarily made an oath of loyalty to the state of Israel.
Zahalka was elected on a platform that promised to bring better services and equal rights to the 1.4 million Arab citizens of Israel. It is hard to see how participating in an anti-Israel conference in Geneva along with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad and other Israel-haters will help solve the serious problems facing the Arab sector in Israel, such as unemployment, lack of infrastructure and poverty.
The opposite is true. Zahalka's participation and fiery statements only play into the hands of those in Israel who are trying to depict the Arab citizens as a "fifth column" and an "enemy from within."
If Israel were an "apartheid" state, Zahalka would not be sitting in the Knesset, enjoying all the social and economic privileges of an elected lawmaker.
While there is no denying that the Arabs have long been suffering from a policy of discrimination in many fields, especially in the allocation of public funds and building zones, Zahalka and his friends are doing the blacks of South Africa injustice by drawing a parallel between their suffering under the former (and real) apartheid system and the problems facing the Arab minority.
And if Zahalka really cared about racism and apartheid, why doesn't he endorse the case of the detained Kuwaiti parliament candidtaes or that of the terrified Lebanese lawmakers who are often afraid to walk out of their homes or that of the Palestinian legislator who was shot in the leg?â®