Haneen Zoubi



Designation: Member of the Knesset (Israel Parliament)
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Haneen Zoubi born 23 May 1969 is an Arab citizen of Israel who currently serves as a member of the Knesset representing the Balad party. Elected in 2009, she is the first woman to be elected to the Knesset on an Arab party's list.

Life and work

Born in Nazareth, Zoubi studied philosophy and psychology at the University of Haifa, gaining a BA, before receiving an MA in communications from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.She was the first Arab citizen of Israel to graduate from a media studies course there, and established the first media classes in Arab schools.She also worked as a math teacher, and later served as a schools inspector for the Ministry of Education.

Zoubi joined Balad in 2001. In 2003, she co-founded the NGO I'lam - Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel (pronounced e'e'lam). Zoubi was its general director until she resigned shortly before the 2009 election in order to focus on her political career.

Zoubi ran for Knesset as a Balad candidate in 2006, but was too low on the party's electoral list to win a seat.Prior to the 2009 elections she won third place on the Balad list, and entered the Knesset after the party won three seats. She became the first female Arab MK to represent an Arab party (though preceded by Hussniya Jabara and Nadia Hilou on other lists).

She is a relative of Seif el-Din el-Zoubi, a former mayor of Nazareth and member of the Knesset between 1949 and 1959, and again from 1965 until 1979, and Abd el-Aziz el-Zoubi, a Deputy Health Minister and the first Arab member of an Israeli government. In 2008, she spoke at Wadham College In 2009, she met with Code Pink, and Coalition of Women for Peace.


Zoubi (like Balad in general) rejects the idea of Israel as a Jewish state, which she describes as "inherently racist." She has argued that this is the only way to combat Avigdor Lieberman's demand that Israeli citizens take loyalty oaths: "Balad's concept, which rejects the 'Jewish state' idea, is the only idea that can remove [Avigdor] Lieberman from the circle of political and moral legitimacy...When you agree with the 'Jewish state' idea, you necessarily agree with the idea of loyalty to this state. Rejecting the 'Jewish state' concept will block the road for anyone who demands our loyalty to such a state."

Zoubi sees no difference between Lieberman and more mainstream Israeli politicians, saying that Lieberman, Tzipi Livni, and Benjamin Netanyahu are "all a bunch of fascists pure and simple."

At the 18th Knesset swearing-in ceremony on February 24, 2009, she left the Knesset plenum before the singing of Hatikva, Israel's national anthem. "'Hatikva' doesn't represent me", she later said. "I preferred to leave the room, because I don't appreciate hypocrisy." She has voiced support for Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons, saying “I need something to balance its [Israel’s] power.”

Zoubi rejects any form of national service on the part of Israel's Arab citizens. In an interview with Jonathan Cook, Zoubi said: "It is frustrating and exhausting having always to be on the defensive about why I identify as a Palestinian, why I am not a Zionist, why the Jewish state is not democratic and cannot represent me, why I am entitled to citizenship. It is a Sisyphean labor."

Gaza flotilla raid

On May 31, 2010 Zoubi participated in the Gaza Flotilla. She spoke to Israeli media, from aboard ship. She was on board the MV Mavi Marmara, the ship of the flotilla where violence broke out between IDF commandos and international activists, which left 9 activists dead and 60 activists and 10 IDF soldiers wounded. Zoubi described the Israeli raid as a "pirate military operation". She was interrupted as she addressed the Knesset, by Jewish lawmakers shouting, "Go to Gaza, traitor!"

During her address she said: "Israel spoke of a provocation, but there was no provocation. Why does the government of Israel oppose an investigation?" Later in a press conference she elaborate: "It was clear from the size of the force that boarded the ship that the purpose was not only to stop this sail[ing], but to cause the largest possible number of fatalities in order to stop such initiatives in the future."

Following the raid, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai requested that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein revoke Zoubi's parliamentary immunity and authorize Yishai to strip Zoubi of her Israeli citizenship. Yishai accused Zoubi of engaging in a "premeditated act of treason", as she used her immunity to protect her from prosecution, even though she assisted activists and was "undoubtedly aware" of their preparations to attack IDF soldiers. Israeli Likud MK Yariv Levin also accused Zoubi of betraying the State of Israel, and called for her to be prosecuted.

She was released on NIS 150,000 bail, and house arrest for five days, and banned from leaving the country for 45 days. Two security guards were assigned for her protection as some death threats have been made against her. There is also a Facebook group entitled "execute the MK Haneen Zoubi".

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