Ben-Gvir is a danger to Israel and he is what the election is about - comment

He is a threat to the future of Israel’s fragile democratic character, and if he gets his way – and Netanyahu gets his 61 seats – these two men will have the ability to demolish the country.

 MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party surrouned visits in Beit Orot, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At-Tur, October 13, 2022. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party surrouned visits in Beit Orot, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At-Tur, October 13, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Every election is believed to be dramatic. It is an opportunity for politicians and the public to make history and to change the trajectory of a nation.

For the last three and a half years, Israel has lurched from one election to another, with the most significant result being the establishment of a government last year that was not led by Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time in more than 12 years.

While it is always risky to predict, I believe that the upcoming election on November 1 is one of the most important in Israel’s 75 years and, more specifically, potentially the most dangerous.

The reason is due to the rise in power of Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is a danger to the State of Israel. He is the modern Israeli version of an American white supremacist and a European fascist.

He is a threat to the future of Israel’s fragile democratic character, and if he gets his way – and Netanyahu gets his 61 seats – these two men will have the ability to demolish the country as we know it.

 A billboard of then-Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) , as part of Otzma Yehudit election campaign, in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat, February 28, 2020.  (credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90) A billboard of then-Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Strength) , as part of Otzma Yehudit election campaign, in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat, February 28, 2020. (credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)

Listen when he speaks

All you have to do is listen to what Ben-Gvir says. In an interview with Channel 13 last week, he stood in the city of Hebron and spoke about the need to establish a “Ministry to Encourage Migration” that will help convince Palestinian Arabs to leave this land. Europe, he explained when asked, needs “working hands.”

Imagine for a moment a European politician standing in a city in Europe with a Jewish majority and declaring the need to set up a government office that will encourage those Jews to migrate so they can work. Ring a bell? Would you not be outraged?

The interview was just days after he drew his sidearm during a visit to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and called on people to shoot Arabs who throw stones. “Guys, if they throw rocks, shoot them,” he told his supporters. He later yelled at the residents that he is “their landlord” and that he will “mow them down.”

Thankfully, the police were there to stop him.

How did it come to this?

How did this happen? How did someone who threatened Yitzhak Rabin as a teenager, who hung a picture of the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein in his house, who was a prominent member in an outlawed group and who was convicted of incitement become legitimate?

The answer is complicated and has to do with a number of social trends and factors, including a general turn to the Right when it comes to security in Israel, a smart campaign and a savvy media operation. But there is one reason that stands above the rest, and that is Netanyahu.

Israel’s former prime minister has legitimized Ben-Gvir in a way no one else in the mainstream political system ever would have imagined. Back when Yitzhak Shamir led Likud, he and the rest of the party would walk out of the Knesset when Meir Kahane went up to the podium to speak. Then, Kach was seen as illegitimate. Today, its de facto leader is on his way to becoming the most important politician in a future Netanyahu government.

A government with Ben-Gvir in it will undermine Israel’s standing in the world, and the country will take on the contours of a fascist state. Some friends in friendly governments around the world are quietly conveying this warning. Sadly, no one is listening.

You can run but you cannot hide

And while Netanyahu might try to avoid having his photo taken together with Ben-Gvir, as seen on Monday night in Kfar Chabad, everyone knows that the two are closely working together toward the same goal of destroying Israeli democracy.

Both want to do so for different reasons. Netanyahu cares about nothing but his trial. He wants to find a way to avoid a conviction and jail time. Ben-Gvir is a convenient partner. He will help Netanyahu pass the legislation needed so that, in return, he can have the power to pass the legislation that will change Israel.

A ministry to encourage migration is just the beginning of what he wants, and with a Netanyahu government completely dependent on Ben-Gvir, the Likud leader will have no choice but to capitulate to the extremist’s every demand.

I know that the above text reads extreme, but this sense of concern is needed to explain a danger.

And this is exactly what Israel faces – a grave danger from within. This is what the upcoming election is about.