In his Foreign Policy piece, Israel’s ambassador to Washington repeated the false claim that MK Tibi expressed support for suicide attacks. Tibi has now sent an official letter to the Foreign Ministry, demanding a retraction.
Of all the factual errors, omissions and half-truths in Ambassador Michael Oren’s piece at Foreign Policy, titled “Israel’s Resilient Democracy,” perhaps the most troubling was this paragraph, which regurgitates a long-debunked lie about the Deputy Speaker of Oren’s own parliament, MK Ahmad Tibi (Raam-Taal / United Arab List):
…In fact, Israel has tolerated acts that would be deemed treasonous in virtually any other democracy. Ahmed Tibi, who once advised PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and recently praised Palestinian “martyrs” — a well-known euphemism for suicide bombers — serves as a member and deputy speaker of the Knesset.
As I wrote in my review of Ambassador Oren’s piece, the accusations against Tibi resulted from an edited video distributed by a rightwing watchdog group. Reporters in the Israeli daily papers that broke the story later retracted and apologized before Tibi; yet Ambassador Oren had no problem repeating those lies against his own deputy Knesset speaker. The irony is that Oren was trying to prove how well Israel treats its Palestinian citizens, but ended up doing just the opposite.
Today, Tibi sent a letter of complaint to the director general of the Foreign Ministry, Rafi Barak, demanding that Ambassador Oren retract the accusations. “Mr. Oren attacked me, distorted my words, and claims that I support suicide attacks against Israeli citizen, which is the absolute opposite of my position,” Tibi wrote. Oren’s response is yet to come.