Itamar Ben Gvir spoke earlier this week, as he does every year, at the annual memorial for Meir Kahane. The latter is the pioneering spirit of Judeo-fascism, who was assassinated in New York in 1991. Every year his disciples gather to commemorate him. Normally, one would say this is nothing new and there is hardly anything especially newsworthy about it. But last week’s election changed all that. Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power party became the third largest in the Knesset and offered Bibi Netanyahu the majority he needed to win.
Ben Gvir is lobbying for the Internal Security portfolio. It is responsible for all public security functions including the police, who are responsible for investigating political corruption, including the cases facing Netanyahu. If he does become minister, he will have the power to stall or prevent his prosecution.
His ministry (if he becomes minister) also oversees the Border Police, tasked with suppressing Palestinian protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is the nation’s most brutal law enforcement force, which routinely beats, maims and even kills routinely.
Just to offer a single example, an incoming MK from Ben Gvir’s party is a former Border Police officer who boasted that he tortured a Bedouin father and his two sons for having the chutzpah to protest a proposed law which would steal their lands.
All this means, Ben Gvir has suddenly become the man of the hour. Israel’s leading fascist. The election shocked the world more than it shocked Israelis. Because most of them have essentially become Kahanists. And even if they aren’t avowed fascists, they support much, if not most of Meir Kahane’s agenda. One might say that Israeli politics have been kidnapped by Kahanism. But this is a kidnapping in which the victim participated in his/her own abduction.
The only thing standing in the way is the response of foreign governments, especially the US and UK, the world’s leading apologists for Israeli apartheid. Will they finally say they’ve had enough and that outright fascism is a bridge too far? Or will they continue their pusillanimous support for Israel, despite its being a nation so tarnished, so brutal, so genocidal, that it would make even Kim Jong Un blush?
Foreign governments should take notice of this memorial event and Ben Gvir’s adoration of an avowed Judeo-terrorist who, until recently was listed on the US Treasury terror blacklist. Though the Biden administration didn’t know it at the time they removed him, they surely wish they hadn’t done so now, given the Kahanist election triumph.
Ben Gvir’s speech, translated below, should give such governments pause and persuade them to declare Ben Gvir and his sidekick, Bezalel Smotrich, persona non grata in their respective countries. There are reports that US officials are considering boycotting them, meaning they would refuse to meet them in Israel or the US. But this is not enough. A boycott isn’t strong enough. Foreign nations must take a stand against rising fascism. They must refuse to permit them entry. Ostracize them completely.
The following remarks should strengthen their resolve, if they’re listening. He begins by welcoming Rabb Dov Lior, the most extremist of all settler rabbis:
קריאות בוז מהקהל בזמן שבן גביר אומר שהוא לא נגד כל הערבים ולא מסכים עם כל דבר שמאיר כהנא האמין בו pic.twitter.com/QCeBlQAxJ5
— בנצי רובין (@bentzi_r) November 10, 2022
Today, we mark 32 years since the murder of Rav Kahane, may God arise and avenge his blood.
“I was once a youth and then grew up.” Since I was a 16 year old, I have attended his memorial service to pay my respects to someone who gave his life to sanctify God’s name. Who led the fight for Soviet Jews [Kahane was charged with a bombing protesting a Soviet cultural event, which murdered a women working for the event’s producer], opening the Iron Curtain; who fought against anti-Semitism in the US, and for the death penalty for terrrorists.
I am grateful to Rabbi Kahane for my “conversion” to Orthodox Judaism, when I began to study at his yeshiva, though it was after his murder. To my sorrow, I never had the privilege of meeting him. But I did have the privilege of reading his writings, his sermons, and to study at a yeshiva which offered love to all, a great ingathering of exiles [a traditional belief that all Jews will eventually return to Israel].
As with most of us, Rabbi Kahane did a great many things in his life. There were times in his life, and activities [of his] which today, I agree with less [a chorus of boos from the audience]. There was a time when he entered politics. There was a time when he spoke about most of the Arabs, and times when he only spoke about some of them [he’s trying to make a distinction between a maximalist Kahane, who believed in expelling all Arabs, and a less radical Kahane, who believed in only expelling some of them]
There was a Rabbi Kahane in the yeshiva, in sermons, in study. Then there was the “public” Rabbi Kahane speaking to the masses.
It’s no secret that today, I’m not Rabbi Kahane and don’t agree with the expulsion of all the Arabs [more catcalls from the audience]. Nor will I propose legislation which calls for separate beaches for Jews and Arabs.
Nevertheless, we will fight for the expulsion of all terrorists from the country, on behalf of the Jewish character of the state, and on behalf of settlement and Jewish identity [Kahanist code-word for Jewish supremacism].
But it seems to me that the hallmark of Rabbi Kahane was love, love of Israel without reservation, without compromise and without any other consideration.
Yes sir, Kahane’s hallmark was “love,”unless you were talking of “Arabs” or really anyone who wasn’t a member of the tribe. And even we weren’t safe. Only the good Jews, the right Jews were permitted to share of this “love.” Everyone else had a target on their back in his quest for a non-existent Davidic monarchal past.
Ben Gvir’s attempt to thread the needle, claiming there was a good Kahane and a bad Kahane; a maximalist Kahane and a tempered Kahane; is a distinction without a difference. Just as his claim that he’s not as extreme as Kahane, because he doesn’t agree with his mentor’s support for the death penalty for terrorists–but rather favors expulsion–is hollow. Ben Gvir’s game is essentially a political Ponzi scheme: he borrows from Kahane when it suits him. And when he seeks to enter the mainstream, he pretends that he’s no Kahane. But rather, a nicer, calmer, Kahane: let’s call it Kahane-Lite.
I just read a wonderful tweet parodying Ben Gvir’s speech, He tweeted a summary here:
אשתתף באזכרה לזכר 77 שנים למותו של אדולף היטלר.
זה לא סוד שכיום אני לא מסכימה עם כל דעותיו אבל אני לא שוכחת לו את התרומה האדירה שלו לאיחוד האומה הגרמנית ושיפור חינוך המדעים בעולם.
— עוקבת ללא עכבות (@nofel_al_oznaym) November 10, 2022
I will join a memorial [ceremony] on the 77th anniversary of the death of [my mentor and idol], Adolf Hilter. It’s no secret that today I don’t agree with all of his views, but I will not forsake the enormous contribution to the unity of the German people and improvement of science education throughout the world [a reference to eugenics]
Ben Gvir, who himself has been convicted of racist incitement over 50 times and convicted of support for Jewish terrorism, glosses over some of the worst of Kahane’s excesses. As James Zogby wrote:
He [Ben Gvir] joined Kach in the 1980s and quickly became a devoted student of Kahane and his racist ideas. Those ideas were spelled out in a set of proposed laws Kahane introduced to the Knesset after he won a seat in 1984. One of the laws stipulated, “Non-Jews [i.e. Arabs] will be obliged to assume duties, taxes and slavery. If he does not agree to slavery and taxes, he will be forcibly deported.” Another declared, “A non-Jew will not live within the jurisdiction of the city of Jerusalem.” He also called for strict separation between Jews and Palestinians, with draconian penalties including 50 years imprisonment for gentiles [Arabs] who have sexual relations with Jews.
Ben Gvir is a dumpster fire of hate and violence. He seeks to incite the equivalent of a race war between Muslims and Jews. And if he has his way, he will get one. The question is: will the rest of the world stand by and watch it happen as they did in 1938? Or will it grow a spine and take decisive action to stop this slow-moving train wreck?