Likud MK David Amsalem’s plenary performance

Amsalem was arguing that it is not the Right that is inciting its members to attack the Left, the courts and the legal system, but the Left that is responsible for the incitement in the country.

MK DAVID AMSALEM arrives at the Jerusalem District Court on May 24. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
MK DAVID AMSALEM arrives at the Jerusalem District Court on May 24.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
On July 29, the Knesset debated a bill submitted by the Druze MK from Yesh Atid, Gadeer Mreeh, to amend Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, by adding an article that promises equal rights for all of Israel’s citizens, returns the status of Arabic as an official language, and caters to the settlement rights of all of Israel’s inhabitants – Jews and non-Jews alike.
Cyber and National Digital Matters Minister and Ministerial Liaison to the Knesset David Amsalem (Likud), was sent on behalf of the government to present the government’s position on the bill since Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White) preferred not to come, as he was allegedly preparing an alternative proposal on the same subject.
Amsalem used the opportunity to settle accounts with the Left in general, and with Nissenkorn, who in an interview that morning had called upon the prime minister, all ministers and all MKs to condemn rather than encourage the right-wing hoodlums who had allegedly attacked demonstrators in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and elsewhere during the previous week, some of whom ended up in hospital. Nissenkorn was referring to the demonstrations against the lack of government support for the victims of the measures taken by it to confront the current pandemic, which have left hundreds of thousands unemployed, and tens of thousands of small businesses on the verge of bankruptcy. 
Many of the demonstrators also demanded the resignation of Benjamin Netanyahu, both for his poor management of the crisis and because, according to them, a man who is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust is unfit to serve as prime minister.
Amsalem opened his speech by arguing, “With regards to the issue of violence, first of all one must understand: We are Betarists [members of the Revisionist Betar movement]. We are honest and decent people. That is the way we were educated. Unlike members of the Left... we are Betarists and grew up on different values... values of honesty, fairness... civil rights... human rights... we are certainly against violence of any sort....  
“We grew up in a reality in which the people of the Left always persecuted us, our parents... therefore we sanctify the basic democratic values, in our souls, not because we are trying to be sanctimonious, or live in a hypocritical world full of lies.... 
“So you must understand who the leftists in the State of Israel are, what the seed of their education is, where they came from, and how they look at the rightists.”
Referring to leftists, Amsalem added, “You are the most anti-democratic people that exist. You do not accept the decision of the people. You shall never accept it as long as you are not elected. You call the rightist public ‘grass eaters’... because you are arrogant, presumptuous, and believe your own bluff.” 
Later in the speech, he said, “You are liars, violent people. In fact you have a topsy-turvy world of values... all that really interests you is to change the regime, the prime minister and the Right.... Every day you shed the Prime minister’s blood and incite at levels that... if he were to go out to the street, someone would shoot him.”
Amsalem was arguing that it is not the Right that is inciting its members to attack the Left, the courts and the legal system, but the Left that is responsible for the incitement in the country. 
“YOU HAVE been inciting against the prime minister on a daily basis for four years,” he continued. “It is you who began this split in the State of Israel... you think you are allowed everything... look at the violence that you are causing de facto.... you are causing anarchy in the State of Israel, wherever you please.... Look at the sign posts that you uprooted, the stones, the physical blows against policemen. You are in breach of the corona law. You do not wear masks or take any other precautions. You spread the epidemic among the people of Israel.”
Incidentally, when Amsalem accuses the Left of not accepting the election results, he seems to forget that following three successive elections, Netanyahu did not receive a parliamentary majority that would have enabled him to form a right-wing religious government, and that it was Netanyahu, who refused to accept the results. 
Now, only two-and-a-half months after he formed an emergency unity government with part of Blue and White, Netanyahu appears to planning a fourth round of elections, with the hope that this time he will finally gain his illusive majority.
Amsalem also accuses the Left of wishing to bring down Netanyahu and the Right, refusing to accept the fact that in a democracy, opposition parties seek to replace the government in power, and trying to present this as somehow treasonous is scandalous. In Israel today there is a very heterogeneous majority – part of which actually serves in the current government – that believes the prime minister has been in power too long and is demonstrating worrying dictatorial inclinations. 
They believe he is corrupt and willing to do anything to avoid standing trial, beside the fact that his policies in many spheres are ruinous to the country. Amsalem and a majority of Likud voters believe that Netanyahu is the greatest, and is irreplaceable (Amsalem said as much in the course of his speech). However, they refuse to accept that there are many others – possibly a majority – who disagree, and they include opposition parties that are anything but left-wing.
Toward the end of his rambling speech, which was constantly interrupted by members of the opposition, Amsalem reminded the Knesset of something he had said a year ago, “The public does not accept the false, fabricated accusations against Netanyahu,” and that millions would go out to the streets to protest if the State Attorney’s Office would proceed with an indictment. 
He complained that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, and then-state attorney Shai Nitzan had admonished him for what he had said, saying Amsalem was speaking irresponsibly. 
“Today anarchy is spreading and we haven’t heard them [Mandelblit and Nitzan?] say a word. Why? Because they support [the demonstrators].”
Finally, a few minutes before his time ran out, Amsalem said a few words about Gadeer Mreeh’s bill, upholding the need for the basic law to continue to exist in its existing form, for fear the Left might cancel the Law of Return, and denying that Mreeh, as a Druze, does not enjoy exactly the same civil rights as he does. 
Needless to say, the bill did not pass in preliminary reading. Nissenkorn is preparing an alternative bill – or so he says.
I listened to the performance that Amsalem gave in the Knesset plenum last Wednesday, swallowed the insults hurled at me as a member of the Left, which I felt were sincerely meant, and just wondered how accurately Amsalem had conveyed “His Master’s Voice.”