ZOA: Arab MK Tibi’s Condemning Naming Space Center After Israeli Hero Ilan Ramon Shows Hatred of Jewish State
June 20, 2012

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has pointed to Israeli Arab Member of Knesset (MK) Ahmed Tibi’s recent condemnation of plans to name a new space center in in the north-central Arab village of Taybeh after Israeli Air Force (IAF) hero and astronaut Ilan Ramon as underscoring the fact that Tibi is not merely a critic of some Israeli policies but a hater of the country in whose parliament he sits as the Deputy Speaker.


Ilan Ramon was an IAF pilot who participated in the 1981 successful destruction of Saddam Hussein’s unfinished nuclear reactor at Osirak. He was killed in 2003 onboard the space shuttle Columbia when it exploded during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.


In a letter to the Science and Technology Ministy, Tibi said Ramon served in the IAF as a fighter pilot, which could offend the Arab community. He wrote, “Upon receiving my invitation to the space center’s opening ceremony, I was very surprised to see that it was being named after Ilan Ramon … Although I admit the circumstances of his death were tragic, I don’t think it is appropriate to name a space station in an Arab village after him.”


Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkovitz responded that the center would be named “after an Israeli hero who was instrumental in fighting Islamic terrorism both inside

Israel’s borders and outside … I do not accept these ridiculous and provocative assertions that the name would be acceptable in Ra’anana (a predominantly Jewish city) but not in Taybeh.” Hershkowitz also said that all of Israel’s space centers were named after Ramon and if Tibi did not want Taybeh’s center named after him, Taybeh would not receive a space center.


Israel Beiteinu MK David Rotem said that Tibi “is willing to give up on a space center that would educate Arab children just in order to avoid honoring an Israeli hero … Apparently, instead of naming the center after Ramon, Tibi prefers to name it after the infamous terrorist who was known as the engineer, Yihye Ayash.” United Arab List leader Ibrahim Sarsur released a statement in Arabic defending Tibi and calling upon Taybeh to return the funding for the space

center to the ministry (Gil Hoffman, Yoni Dayan, ‘Tibi: Don’t name Taybeh space center after Ramon,’ Jerusalem Post, June 19, 2012).



Ahmed Tibi has a long record of disloyal actions towards Israel:


  • 2006: Tibi and other Arab MKs visited Lebanon, a country which maintains a state of war and non-recognition of Israel.


  • 2007: Tibi attended an a Fatah rally in Ramallah at which he said, “Fatah was the first group to launch the revolution, and Palestine and Fatah will remain. The liberation of Palestine is a long process, and the path is full of obstacles. The Palestinians will continue their struggle until the liberation of the land and the establishment of a Palestinian state.”


  • 2007: Tibi defended fellow Arab MK Raleb Majadele for refusing to sing the national anthem, ‘Hatikvah,’ saying he, too, never sings it.


  • 2008: Tibi attended a conference in Doha, Qatar, where he announced that he came as a representative of ‘Palestine.’ This apparently even shocked Kadima Minister, Majalli Whbee, who said, “It’s time for Ahmad Tibi to decide which country he represents… he cannot be a member of one nation’s parliament while representing another at international conventions.” Tibi also condemned Israel in his address at Doha, saying that “Israel discriminates against Arab citizens and has established an apartheid state in the occupied territories where Arabs have different roads and different laws.”


Additionally, other Israeli Arab MKs, including Azmi Bishara, Jamal Zahalka and Wasal Taha, have undertaken trips to countries that are in a state of war with Israel, like Syria, and declared their solidarity with Israel’s enemies. This has even occurred since a law was enacted in 2001 prohibiting such visit to enemy states and amendments to it to tighten its operation. However, no attempt has even been made to enforce the law since that date.


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We see here exposed the lie that certain Arab MKs are controversial because, allegedly, they are merely critical of existing Israeli policies. 


“Ahmed Tibi did not criticize any existing policy. His suggestion in this letter would do nothing to improve the lot of his constituency. Rather, he is opposed to honoring an Israeli hero because he is an Israeli hero, one who arguably saved Israel and much of the world the untold horror of the genocidal dictator Saddam Hussein obtaining nuclear weapons. Clearly, Ahmad Tibi would have been thrilled if Saddam had obtained a nuclear weapons capacity.


“Three years ago, I had my own experience of dealing with Ahmed Tibi when he started screaming at me and had me barred from entering the Knesset for two hours, where I was bringing a World Likud Organization delegation, when I asked Tibi, following his appearance in Doha where he claimed to represented ‘Palestine,’ if he, a paid Israeli legislator, represented Israel or Palestine. He also claimed, despite the plethora of witnesses present, that I had physically attacked him, then changed his story to say I had verbally assaulted him. It was two hours before I was allowed to enter the Knesset.


“Ahmed Tibi exemplifies the Israeli Arab without loyalty to the country in whose parliament he sits. It is simply intolerable that MKs like Tibi sit in the Knesset while consorting with terrorists and the leaders of Arabs regimes that harbor them. 


“The ZOA has long supported enacting a law that would ban MKs from the Knesset who support or identify with a terror organization.”

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