Mohammad Barakeh

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Mohammad Barakeh
Mohammad Barakeh 2011.jpg
Date of birth (1955-07-29) 29 July 1955 (age 59)
Place of birth Shefa-'Amr, Israel
Knessets 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
Faction represented in Knesset
1999–2015 Hadash

Mohammad Barakeh (Arabic: محمد بركة‎; Hebrew: , born 29 July 1955) is an Israeli Arab politician who served a member of the Knesset for Hadash, of which he is the Secretary-General, from 1999 to 2015.


Born in Shefa-'Amr, Barakeh studied mathematics at Tel Aviv University. He first became politically involved whilst at university in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was head of the Association of Arab Students in Israel, and among the founders and major activists of "CAMPUS" (the Hebrew - קמפו"ס - acronym of "Student Social and Political Involvement Group"), which united left-wing Jewish and Arab students in a joint struggle against the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and for full equality of Israeli Arabs.

In that time, he had formed extensive political partnerships and personal friendships with Jewish fellow students, many of which continue up to the present. The rented apartment where he lived for many years on top of an old building at Rothschild Boulevard in downtown Tel Aviv was a well-known rendezvous for political meetings and also the venue of sometimes boisterous student parties lasting deep into the night. Among numerous other political actions, the first demonstration against the 1982 Lebanon War - held on the war's third day, 7 June 1982, dispersed by police with considerable violence, and still well-remembered by veterans of the Israeli peace camp - was planned at a dramatic meeting held in Barakeh's Tel Aviv apartment.

Following the end of his studies, Barakeh returned to his hometown of Shefa-'Amr, a place with considerable importance in the internal politics of Israel's Arab citizens, and took up political activity in the local Maki branch. The well-known record of his student days added to his prestige and standing in a party which - though most of its members and voters are Arab - has a high regard for joint Jewish-Arab action, as a supreme ideological as well as organizational principle.

He was first elected to the Knesset in 1999, and was re-elected in 2003, 2006 and 2009. Since 2003 he has served as a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset.

Extremist threats[edit]

In February 2005, Barakeh was threatened by Kahanist activist (and now-outlawed Kach party leader) Baruch Marzel over his pivotal support for Ariel Sharon's evacuation compensation bill, a move that paved the way for Israel's unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. In a letter, Marzel wrote to Barakeh: "the evacuation bill was passed with your backing, and now it is only a matter of time before it is implemented on other sectors of society, including you and your friends." Marzel wrote that Barakeh's vote "in favor of expelling Jews from their homes in Gaza and the northern Samaria" would result in "appraisers [being] sent to your home to estimate its value."[citation needed]

Barakeh appeared unintimidated by the threats, and issued a warning of his own in response to the letter: "In Israel we have freedom of movement, and Baruch Marzel may come to Shfar'am, but if he violates my privacy I cannot vouch for his well-being."[citation needed]


On 1 November 2009, Barakeh was indicted on four counts for actions taken at political demonstrations: assault and interfering with a policeman in the line of duty on 28 April 2005, assault on a photographer on 22 July 2006, insulting a public servant (police officer) on 5 August 2006, and for confronting an official (police officer) who was discharging his legal duty on July 7, 2007. The crimes are punishable by jail terms ranging from six months to five years. According to the Jerusalem Post, Barakeh was given one month to decide whether he wants to request using his parliamentary immunity or stand trial. At least one human rights group has posited that the charges are politically motivated, as also pointed out in the Jerusalem Post: "Adalah, the Legal Center for Minority Rights in Israel, declared that the indictment against Barakeh was based on false testimony which Barakeh completely denied."[1][2]

Visit to Auschwitz[edit]

Barakeh's decision to join an Israeli delegation visiting World War II-era concentration camps was opposed by two right-wing Israeli legislators led by Danny Danon, who claimed he will use the visit to attack Israel, and who lobbied unsuccessfully to have Barakeh barred from the commemoration.[3] The visit also drew criticism from Israeli Arabs who said the timing is inappropriate due to Israeli-Palestinian tensions.[4]

After visiting the extermination camp, Barakeh expressed great shock. "I knew exactly where I was going," He said and added, "But being here, faced with the embodiment of human evil on the one hand, and the unperceivable misery of the victims on the other hand, things take on a different meaning. Everything is mixed into a human catastrophe."

Barakeh also commented on the piles of children's shoes displayed at the museum and said, "Any such shoe was once worn by a baby. Children are a nationality of their own, a nationality of innocence, and I cannot grasp how human beings could do such an atrocious thing."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gil Ronen (1 November 2009). "Criminal Charges Against Arab MK Barakeh". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  2. ^ DAN IZENBERG (1 November 2009). "Hadash MK indicted for assault while demonstrating against state". Israel National News. Retrieved 1 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Arab Israeli's Auschwitz visit raises criticism
  4. ^ Arab Israeli's Auschwitz visit raises criticism
  5. ^ [1]

External links[edit]