Ahmad Tibi: Ilan Ramon’s Name on Aerospace Center Insults Arabs

Ahmed Tibi, the MK who is known for visiting countries Israel is still technically at war with and rhetoric that echoes that of MK Hanin Zoabi, demanded that the new aerospace center in Taibe not carry Ilan Ramon’s name.

According to reports, Tibi objected to Ramon’s name being used in conjunction with an aerospace center because of the fact that Ramon was an air force pilot who bombed parts of Lebanon during the 1982 Lebanon War.  Ilan Ramon was Israel’s first astronaut who died in 2003 when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.  Tibi said that Ramon’s past having bombed Iraq’s Osirak reactor makes his name on a building “An insult to all Arabs”.  However, Tibi attempted to cover up his offensive comments by expressing condolences over Ramon’s death and that of his son Asaf who was killed in a plane crash in 2009 while flying an F-16.

Since the fatal accident in 2003, most of the aerospace centers in the country have carried Ilan Ramon’s name due to his status as being Israel’s first astronaut.  Tibi said in a letter that he would prefer the aerospace center in Taibe be named for a Muslim astronomer or not have any name on it.  He insisted that Ramon’s name would “hurt the Arab public”.

Tibi’s comments are his latest that have offended large sections of Israeli society, both Arab and Jewish in its content and circumstances.  During the Second Lebanon War, Tibi expressed his support of Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on northern Israel.  He also expressed his outrage at the Israeli government for the Mavi Marmara incident.

Science Minister Daniel Hershowitz responded to Tibi’s statements by saying that the Arab lawmaker is acting out of line.  He said that the Ilan Ramon Center and the Israeli Science Ministry are funding the centers that will open in Taibe and Yarka and therefore Israel can give the center any name it chooses.  Hershkowitz also said that Tibi has crossed “Red lines” with this statements and that the “Arab sector cannot enjoy state funding while disrespecting the state and its heroes”.