A leading Arab member of the Israeli parliament is threatening to sue the Israeli ambassador to the United States over an article the diplomat wrote that portrays him as a supporter of suicide bombers.
“Mr. Oren attacked me, distorted my words, and claims that I support suicide attacks against Israeli citizens, which is the absolute opposite of my position,” Mr. Tibi wrote in a letter to Raffi Barak, director-general of the Foreign Ministry.
He demanded that the ambassador retract the offending remarks.
“Israel has tolerated acts that would be deemed treasonous in virtually any other democracy. Ahmed Tibi, who … recently praised Palestinian martyrs - a well known euphemism for suicide bombers - serves as a member and deputy speaker of the Knesset,” Mr. Oren wrote.
He added that “discrimination, unfortunately, is common to virtually all countries, and Israel also grapples with it.”
However, Mr. Oren noted that Israeli Arabs serve in parliament, on the Supreme Court, in the diplomatic corps and in the military, although they are exempt from service in the Israel Defense Forces that is compulsory for most other Israelis.
In his article, Mr. Oren also noted that Mr. Tibi once served as adviser to Yasser Arafat, the late chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization that long waged a terrorist campaign against Israel.
Mr. Oren was referring to a widely quoted statement attributed to Mr. Tibi earlier this year when he addressed a ceremony organized by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to honor “shahids,” or martyrs.
Mr. Tibi said the martyr is the “symbol of the homeland.”
“They are shahids who the occupier calls terrorists, and we say are fighting for the homeland,” he said, referring to Israel as an occupation force in Palestinian lands.
WARLICK NOT LEAVING
U.S. Ambassador James B. Warlick Jr., a lightning rod for anti-American criticism in Bulgaria, on Thursday denied press reports that Washington plans to recall him before the end of a normal three-year diplomatic tour.