Hadash MK Cassif: ‘They Want to Silence Us’

MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) is being threatened with expulsion from Israel’s parliament after he signed a petition supporting South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, accusing it of acts of genocide. Cassif says the impeachment is based on an antidemocratic law that suppresses free speech. “They want me and my friends to shut up,” he says of the far-right government’s persecution of dissenting legislators in an interview to Amy Goodman broadcasted by Democracy Now! “We’ve been against the war from the beginning because we are against bloodshed.”

MK Ofer Cassif during a demonstration against the war in Gaza held at Kaplan Street in Tel-Aviv, near the Ministry of Defense, January 6, 2024 (Photo: Zo Haderech)

According Cassif “I am not against Israel or anti-Israeli. I’m against the government of Israel, because the government of Israel is at the moment the most dangerous to the Israeli society and to the Israelis. So, my signature in support of this South African appeal to the International Court of Justice is not against Israel. It’s for Israel and against the Israeli government and its policies. I have been saying that. Already 85 members of the Knesset signed on this. Allow me just very, very briefly to explain the process of expulsion, of impeachment of members of the Knesset. It is based on a law that was enacted on 2016, which is an undemocratic law because, of course, it allows tyranny of the majority. It allows the majority to persecute and suppress not only the freedom of speech, but the very existence of a member of the Knesset as such that belongs to the minority, and one’s, you know, ideas are not exactly acceptable, popular.”

Amy Goodman: So, talk about their arguments, what — some have said your support for the South Africa case indirectly aligns with goals of Hamas and the attack on October 7th. There were allegations by the Israeli members in The Hague today that South Africa is serving as the political wing of Hamas. Your response to all of this, and what it means to you to talk as a Jewish member, an Israeli member of Knesset, being critical of the Israeli government and what they’re doing right now and Gaza, calling it a genocide?

Ofer Cassif: I’m very proud of my views and beliefs and of my friends’ and comrades’ views and beliefs and our activities, because we are the only ones who totally reject any kind of violence. Accusing us in supporting, implicitly or otherwise, the terrible carnage committed by Hamas on 7th of October is not only a sheer lie — that they are aware of — but it is also incitement, because they know perfectly well — I, personally, and my colleagues, we published time and again in the last 100 days since the massacre committed by Hamas took place, we published everywhere — I think that I said that to you also in one of our former interviews — that we are totally against, we totally condemn the terrible crime against humanity and war crime, this massacre, and the atrocities committed by Hamas. We are totally against it. Accusing me in supporting it, one way or another, this is a sheer lie, incitement, that has nothing to do with reality. But they want to silent us. They want me and my friends to shut up. They don’t want us to raise our voice against any kind of violence, because, as I said a million times, as someone who continuously for years object and oppose the Israeli occupation and siege against the Palestinian people, we said, I said, explicitly, that even the crimes of the siege and the occupation cannot and will never justify the massacre committed by Hamas. We added that the massacre, the criminal massacre by Hamas, cannot justify the massacre and assault of Israel on Gaza, in which around 30,000 people are already dead, were killed. The vast majority, more than 70%, are innocent civilians, around 10,000 children. So, raising voice against those things, supporting investigation of those things — and please bear in mind that in the petition that I signed on, there’s no categorical statement, let alone by me, that Israel is guilty in genocide. It does say that it deserves an investigation, impartial investigation. And the government of Israel, one way or another, branches of the government of Israel, cannot pursue an impartial investigation. It’s as if we were asking a thief to investigate oneself if it did steal something or not. That doesn’t make any sense. That’s one of the main things in supporting the appeal by South Africa: to investigate… So many Palestinians, thousands of Palestinians, who are killed. Israeli soldiers are killed. The hostages are at risk, because the government doesn’t do anything to release them.

The full interview:


Related: https://maki.org.il/en/?p=31532