As the only Israeli lawmaker aboard a vessel steaming toward an Israeli blockade, Hanin Zoabi spent a fair amount of her time on the Mavi Marmara talking to the media. Or trying to. The Turks understood only Turkish, and a good many of the Arab reporters were flummoxed by what they found before them. A petite, apparently sane Palestinian woman serving in Israel's parliament had no place in the story they had been telling one another for decades.
"The Arabs didn't understand why I am in the Knesset," says Zoabi, 41. "They didn't of course like the fact that I am giving legitimization to Israel. I sent a message to the whole world that Israel is a democracy."
Zoabi was below decks when her country's commandos descended to the Mavi Marmara, found themselves in over their heads and opened fire, killing nine civilians. But she saw her share of action back in the Knesset, which as a representative body had absorbed the events at sea with all the equanimity and quiet self-reflection of the Israeli public at large.
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