Feiglin boots MK from plenum for calling him ‘fascist’

Balad’s Jamal Zahalka forced off Knesset podium by ushers; earlier, Hadash lawmaker tells deputy speaker to ‘go choke’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Knesset member Jamal Zahalke was forcibly removed from the parliament’s podium Monday after he called Deputy Speaker Moshe Feiglin of the Likud a “fascist.”

The Balad party leader rose to the podium to argue against the controversial “Jewish State” bill. Early in his remarks, he referenced a 1941 article by Jewish intellectual and Holocaust survivor Hannah Arendt against the idea of a Jewish state. Zahalka claimed that Arendt had argued that a Jewish state could only offer Palestinians second-class citizenship.

“And she said the word ‘Palestinians’?” asked Feiglin, a hardliner from the ruling Likud party.

Zahalka said Arendt used the word “Palestine,” as she was writing in English. Feiglin responded that he would be happy to see the article in question.

“Good, I suggest you read it,” said Zahalka. “You are in the opposite universe from her.”

“I just asked you to show me the source,” Feiglin interjected.

“Because she had humanistic stances, against totalitarianism, and radical nationalism, so listen a little, learn a little…” responded Zahalka. “Come on, she was anti-Nazi, anti-fascist. You are a fascist. That’s not a curse for you; fascist is a compliment.”

Feiglin then ordered Zahalka to stop his speech, but he refused, at which point Feiglin summoned the ushers, who removed the struggling, yelling Zahalka from the plenum.

After that, the hall descended into a shouting match, with opposition MKs protesting Feiglin’s decision.

“If you think I intend to surrender to verbal violence such as this, you are mistaken,” the deputy speaker told them.

Opposition head Isaac Herzog (Labor) accused Feiglin of humiliating MKs and violating their freedom of speech.

The incident came after a similar one, also on Monday, in which Hadash MK Mohammad Barakeh was removed by Feiglin after telling him to “go choke.”

Among other nationalist positions, Feiglin is known for strident demands for increased Israeli control of the Temple Mount, the site of Judaism’s two ancient temples and a holy site for Islam.

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