The storm generated by Knesset member Zuhair Bahloul of the Zionist Camp for refusing to label the stabber of an Israeli soldier in Hebron a “terrorist” is yet another lesson in the complex reality of Arab society in Israel. The bloody conflict between their fellow people, the Palestinians, and their fellow citizens, the Jews of Israel, traps Israel’s Arab citizens between a rock and a hard place: solidarity and empathy on the one hand, and denial and repression on the other. In June 2014, Knesset member Haneen Zoabi of the Arab Balad Party dared argue that the killers of three Israeli youths in the West Bank were not terrorists. The agonized shrieks of Israel’s elected officials reverberated at the time through the halls of the Knesset.
Bahloul was decrying the fact that for Israelis, “anyone struggling for his liberty and his independence is a terrorist.” Zoabi voiced her solidarity in cruder terms. She said that her occupied people will keep resorting to violence “until Israeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other." Similar comments have been made for decades by Israeli Palestinians.