'I never dared to speak out. He had the courage'

Mohammad Zoabi’s mother defends son, scolds critics

‘Everybody has a right to say and feel what they want,’ says mom of Israeli Arab teen who identified with kidnapped youths

Mohammad Zoabi (screen capture: YouTube)
Mohammad Zoabi (screen capture: YouTube)

The mother of Mohammad Zoabi, an Arab Israeli teen who posted a video on YouTube expressing solidarity with kidnapped Israeli youths, defended her son Wednesday and castigated those who criticized and threatened him for expressing his views.

“You know what?” she said on Tel Aviv Radio. “Maybe I taught my son to fight for justice, my son got up and had the courage to speak. In my life, I have never spoken like this. Maybe I felt it inside, but I never dared [to speak out]. He had the courage.

“Ultimately, he is a child, not quite 17, and he feels this and wants to broadcast it; he has hope that he can [make a difference], change things,” she said. “It’s truly unfortunate that he thinks he can make a difference. He doesn’t know that he lives in a world that is so cruel that it won’t let him say what he wants and what he feels.”

Police arrested three relatives of Zoabi Tuesday for threatening him after he called for the release of the three teens, affirmed his own identity as an Israeli, and urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop negotiating with Palestinian terrorists. Those arrested were his father, an aunt and a grandmother, who are suspected of planning to take him to Jenin in the West Bank and to harm him.

Another relative, the controversial MK Hanin Zoabi (Balad), distanced herself from his comments Tuesday and said that, contrary to his assertion, the kidnappers were “not terrorists.”

Mohammad Zoabi’s mother said that those people had “let her son down” by threatening and criticizing him solely for speaking his mind.

“He didn’t say something horrible, he didn’t make threats, didn’t blame or betray [anybody]; he said free our boys because that is how he feels, because he has Jewish friends,” she said.

“Everybody has a right to say and feel what they want,” she added.

She also recounted a time their landlord had come to the apartment and told her to have Mohammad take down the Israeli flag hanging in his room.

“Excuse me?” she recalled saying. “‘It’s my right to put up whatever I want; this is the flag of my country.’ He told me, ‘It breaks my heart that I have to see this flag. [Shame on you].'”

Gavriel Friske contributed to this report.

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