I am utterly at a loss for words to convey my embarrassment over having someone like Itamar Ben-Gvir serve as our national security minister.
Ben-Gvir is a liability for Israel and a gift for international entities hell-bent on Israel’s destruction. His racist remarks have been recycled by anti-Israel groups like Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) and NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, all of which falsely depict Israel as a racist state.
It is so saddening that the essence of our nation is tarnished by such a figure in a position of power.
In the past week, Ben-Gvir caused an uproar after publicly stating that his right to freedom of movement is “more important” than the freedom of movement of Arabs in an interview with Israel’s N12 channel. Ben-Gvir was initially asked about the government’s failure to fight the wave of terrorism, where 34 Israelis have been murdered in terror attacks since 2023. Ben-Gvir responded by blaming the former Lapid-Bennett government and critiquing Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, before making racist comments.
In Ben-Gvir’s exact words: “My right, the right of my wife, of my children to move around on the roads in the West Bank is more important than the right to freedom of movement of the Arabs – sorry, Mohammed [to Channel 12 journalist Mohammed Magadli] this is the reality, this is the truth. My right to life precedes [their] right to freedom of movement.”
While it is indisputable that Jews are indigenous to the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, ignoring the current political context is foolish – and does nothing to advance the lives of Israelis.
Over 3,000,000 Palestinians live in the West Bank, and just like us Jews, they are not going anywhere. In 1967, when Israel made the decision not to annex the West Bank, it accepted the complex and controversial reality that exists there today.
Yes, protecting life should override ease and mobility. Still, Israel took on the responsibility of the Palestinians in the West Bank and is legally obligated to provide them with certain protections. Today, 80% of IDF soldiers stationed in the West Bank are there to protect Israelis in settlement communities, and only 20% are deployed to combat terrorism. Today, the West Bank is a militarized war zone, so if IDF soldiers must be stationed there to protect the Israeli residents, it has to be done in parallel with Israel’s requirements towards Palestinians as the ruling power.
Yet our security minister failed to grasp these concepts and narrowed it down to the different freedoms allotted to Jews versus Arabs, erasing the complicated situation in the West Bank.
After the public erupted against Ben-Gvir for his comments, he published a statement where he blamed the Israeli Left and media for “misquoting” him and clarified that he meant that “the right of Jews to live and not be murdered in terror attacks prevails over the right of Arabs in Judea and Samaria to travel on the roads without security restrictions.”
Israelis have been targeted and ruthlessly murdered in multiple terror attacks, especially in the West Bank, but the way Ben-Gvir communicated this is deeply problematic.
Instead of explaining that these security measures are unfortunate – but necessary to protect civilian life (including Palestinian civilians), his rhetoric echoed Kahanist extremism and showed his blatant racism.
The sentiment that life trumps all is ironic from the man who ignored what happened in Huwara, where (after a Palestinian gunman from Huwara shot dead two Jewish brothers earlier in the day) over 200 Jewish Israelis from settlement communities stormed the Palestinian village, setting ablaze 30 homes and vehicles, causing 350 people to seek medical attention and the death of a Palestinian man.
In fact, not only did Ben-Gvir ignore what happened in Huwara, he invited the families of the perpetrators to the Knesset and vowed to release them.
We already know that Ben-Gvir is a racist and supports Jewish supremacy, but now the rest of the world knows it, too. Almost every anti-Israel public figure jumped to share the clip of Ben-Gvir, including Palestinian-American model Bella Hadid (who shared it with her 65,000,000 followers) and British-American MSNBC anchor Mehdi Hasan.
Ben-Gvir’s own partners in government have called this a “PR and diplomatic terror attack.”
The public conversation surrounding Ben-Gvir and his supporters has been toxic and alarming in its level of aggression. His main base of support is the claim that only Ben-Gvir will restore order, and he alone will take the harsh actions required to deal with terrorism.
How has Itamar Ben-Gvir benefited the Israeli public in any way?
What has Ben-Gvir done to stop terror attacks?
How have his efforts benefited the Israeli public in any way?
His words have done the opposite and have incited hatred and normalized extremists from Israeli society to commit acts of violence.
A man who hates Arabs will never be able to stop terrorism and will never keep Israelis safe. Cooperation between both communities is our only chance at peace and security, and will never be achieved by the man most associated with the Kahanist far-Right. His words only incited anger and inflamed tensions within and outside of Israel.
Ben-Gvir, as our national security minister, is nothing short of an unbearable affront to our nation’s integrity.
While the security of Israeli citizens is paramount, so are the rights and safety of Palestinians who live alongside us. His divisive rhetoric alienates us from the world and fuels our society’s animosity. We cannot entrust safeguarding our nation to a man whose ideology promotes hatred and discrimination.
The path to peace and safety lies in unity, not in the divisive ideology that Ben-Gvir embodies.
The writer is a social media activist with over 10 years of experience working for Israeli and Jewish causes and cause-based NGOs. She is co-founder and COO of Social Lite Creative, a digital marketing firm specializing in geopolitics.