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Likud MK: Palestinians Can’t Even Pronounce ‘Palestine’

A Knesset plenary got heated after Likud MK Anat Berko called pronunciation into a discussion about a two-state solution

Jonathan Zalman
February 11, 2016
Anat Berko. Facebook
Anat Berko. Facebook

A discussion in the Knesset got heated on Wednesday—like family squabble-heated—leading one MK to ask another MK: “Are you an idiot?”

It all began during a discussion on Wednesday about a two-state solution. During this time, Likud MK Anat Berko called into question—and made an argument against—Palestinian claims to a regional territory because Palestinians cannot even pronounce “Palestine,” reported Haaretz.

“I want to go back to history,” said Berko. “What is our place here, about Jerusalem, about Palestine, when like we said, Arabic doesn’t even have “P,” so this loan-word also merits scrutiny.” (In fact, there is no sound for the letter “P” in Arabic, only a sound for the consonant “F,” for Fah-lah-steen.)

“What? Did you hear that?” Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg chimed in. “Are you an idiot?”

Said Berko: “These are the facts. I’ll send it to you, everything’s alright. There is no “puh” sound!”

This prompted MK Osama Sa’adi from the Joint Arab List to leave in protest.

And, to make sure readers are awards of the merit to Berko’s argumentation, the Times of Israel lays it out thusly:

While the absence of the letter “P” in the Arabic alphabet has been used as an occasional point of ridicule by those who oppose Palestinian self-determination, it is not generally considered a serious political argument.

So there you have it.

Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.