Communist Member of the Knesset Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash-Joint List) said Tuesday, April 19, that the Arabic word Intifada means “popular uprising” and is therefore legitimate. The statement from her office came in the wake of remarks the previous day by Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran on the rejected appeal by Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, against his conviction for inciting to violence.
A panel of three Supreme Court justices voted 2 to 1 against Salah’s appeal to reverse his conviction, but did agree to reduce his prison sentence from eleven to nine months. Justice Joubran cast the dissenting vote, explaining in his minority opinion that Salah’s call for an Arab-Islamic intifada constituted support for the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Joubran wrote that the fact that the sermon for which the Islamic leader was convicted “was not addressed to a specific, inflamed, political audience, but rather to a general audience around the world, [thus] decreasing the specificity of the call [to incitement] and, as a result, decreasing the chance that the call would lead to the commission of a violent act.”
The justice’s remarks, in response to Salah’s call for an “Arab-Islamic intifada,” were vociferously attacked on social media and news websites.
In relating to Justice Joubran position, Touma-Sliman noted that “Despite the violent “framing” that the word Intifada has received in Israeli society and media, in Arabic Intifada is an uprising, and an uprising by definition is a popular matter – a matter of struggle and in the case under discussion, a call to defend a holy site [Haram al-Sharif] that is under occupation.” Moreover, the Communist MK added in her statement, “Revolting against the occupation is a legitimate and natural position and action, according to universal moral standards, according to common sense and according to international law.”
Therefore, she argued, “There is nothing wrong with the opinion and position of Justice Joubran, as a senior jurist who is well-versed in international law. What is not natural is that the Israeli government and Israeli public opinion do not recognize that there is an occupation and that, as in any other place, a nation that is under occupation has a right to resist it and to rebel against it.” Touma-Sliman went on to warn against “any attempt to turn Justice Joubran’s remarks, which were made with the authority of his position, into an excuse for incitement against him.”