The Shmooze

Ahmad Tibi and Michael Oren Duke It Out

By Nathan Jeffay

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Ahmad Tibi, one of the liveliest, not to mention most controversial, lawmakers in the Knesset, is squaring up to Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren.

Oren penned a piece in Foreign Policy praising Israel’s democratic nature, in which he wrote:

Israel has tolerated acts that would be deemed treasonous in virtually any other democracy. Ahmad 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.

Tibi has now demanded that Oren retract his comments. “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,” he wrote in an official letter of complaint to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

As Tibi told the Forward back in January, he claims that his comments about “martyrs” were misrepresented by people who wanted to slur him by giving the impression he supports terror.

Here at the Shmooze, we’re disappointed at the way this argument has panned out. Articles in Foreign Policy and letters to the Foreign Ministry? Last time Tibi got offended, he responded with an x-rated poem which he read out in Knesset — Philologos’s excellent column on the subject will refresh your memory. Maybe it’s time for a poetic exchange between Tibi and Oren. And if either of them find it difficult to talk politics via poetry, Günter Grass could always lend a hand.


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