Raja Zaatra, a public relations official for the Joint Arab List political party in Israel, said the Islamic State terror group learned its actions from Zionism and refused to define Hamas as a terrorist organization.
During a panel discussion about Israel’s upcoming March 17 election at Bar-Ilan University on Tuesday, Zaatra said, “Where did ISIS (Islamic State) learn all these things? Look at what the Zionist movement did in 1948, the acts of rape, murder, plunder, and mass slaughter that were committed.”
Turning to Hamas, Zaatra said that the Gaza-based group is “not a terrorist organization. A people under occupation have a legitimate right to resist.”
After drawing condemnation from across the panel’s political spectrum for his comments, Zaatra told Israel Hayom, “I believe in every word, and I certainly don’t regret what I said.”
MK Hanin Zoabi, a Joint Arab List member, was initially banned from the upcoming election over her history of anti-Israel comments—including remarks that the Hamas kidnappers and murderers of three Jewish teens last summer were “not terrorists,” and that the Israel Defense Forces and Islamic State are “both murderous armies that lack red lines.” But Zoabi’s candidacy was later reinstated by the Israeli Supreme Court.
“The High Court justices who permitted the horrible things that Zoabi has said and done in recent years have led to this Zaatra allowing himself to say things that in any other country would cause his citizenship to be revoked,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday.
The Joint Arab List—an alliance of the Israeli Knesset’s Arab political parties—said in a statement, “We have come out with a strong official stance against ISIS’s crimes, and the Joint Arab List condemns them regardless of any historical events.”
Islamic State issued its latest execution video on Tuesday, identifying the victim as 19-year-old Mohamed Said Ismail Musalam, an Israeli Arab from eastern Jerusalem who the terrorist group called a “Mossad spy.” Islamic State also released the names and photos of 13 other individuals the group claims were part of an Israeli Mossad network trying to spy on its operations.
Musalam’s father, Said, told Army Radio, “Mohamed was against Islamic State, seeing what he saw on TV, what they were doing, he was against them. … Everyone who knows Mohamed loves him. … The Mossad? What are you talking about? Why would the Mossad recruit a clueless 19-year-old kid?”