‘The Most Antisemitic Police in the World’: Ben-Gvir’s Soon-to-be Chief of Staff’s Years-long Feud With Police

Chanamel Dorfman, Ben-Gvir’s pick to lead his office at the ministry of national security, has repeatedly expressed distrust towards the police, whose authority may be coming under his control soon

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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MK Itamar Ben Gvir and right-hand man Chanamel Dorfman arrive at a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu in November.
Credit: Moti Milrod
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

“Rotten,” “racist,” “mafia,” “organization of a culture of lies.” These are just a few of the epithets that Chanamel Dorfman, slated to be appointed chief of staff of the designated Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, used to describe the Israeli Police.

Dorfman, who has been the target of investigation by the Shin Bet’s department that investigates Jewish citizens, is considered Ben-Gvir’s right-hand man. Having clerked in Ben-Gvir’s law firm, he later served as Otzma Yehudit’s legal adviser, and is now a member of the team negotiating with Likud.

In conversations behind closed doors, Ben-Gvir says that he intends to appoint Dorfman as his chief of staff when he becomes national security minister. But Dorfman’s tweets in recent years show what he thinks of the police, which may be under its authority very soon, when he becomes a senior official.

In October 2021, for example, Dorfman tweeted about an interview given by a Border Police member after the latter was assaulted by a right-wing activist following the dismantling of an illegal outpost at Yitzhar in the West Bank.

“The most antisemitic police in the world,” he wrote. “Thousands of illegal homes of Arabs in Samaria,” referring to the northern West Bank by its biblical name, “and they go and dismantle a shade structure at Yitzhar. Bizarre.” Last June, he called the police “an organization of a culture of lies” for their change of stance regarding the route of the Flag March in Jerusalem.”

In addition, in response to a tweet by MK Ayman Odeh just before the outbreak of violence during Operation Guardian of the Walls, in which Odeh wrote “shocking” next to a photo of settlers dancing with a burning tree on the Temple Mount in the background,” Dorfman tweeted “pretty.”

Dorfman again criticized the police in April 2020 after a girl was injured by a stun grenade in the ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea She’arim during riots, calling them “violent and miserable.”

In response to another attack on a resident of Mea She’arim by the police, Dorfman tweeted: “Shameful. Racist police.” In November 2019, in response to a report on Kan Broadcasting Channel 11 News of a police ambush at a wedding of so-called “hilltop youth,” the man intended to head the ministry in charge of the police tweeted: “This is not police, this is a mafia and you are next in line, get ready.”

In July 2018, Dorfman also responded to a report that the commander of the national fraud squad had failed to pass a polygraph test by tweeting: “rotten police.”

Dorfman, 27, who lives in the unauthorized outpost Yishuv Hada’at near the Shiloh settlement in the West Bank, is well known to the Shin Bet and police. However, in recent years, like his patron Ben-Gvir, he has abandoned on-the-ground activism for a legal career, including representing Ben-Gvir himself in various cases. Among the ultra-right and hilltop youth, he was a target of the Shin Bet, but not the prime target, according to a former Shin Bet official.

As a minor, Dorfman twice received restraining orders from the IDF Central Command. As a result of intelligence transmitted by the Shin Bet, he was suspected of interfering with the evacuation of unauthorized settlement outposts. He wrote on Twitter in May 2021: “A few years ago, Avi Mizrahi, head of Central Command, administratively banned me without evidence, without proof, without a trial from Judea and Samaria. It didn't seem to matter to him that I was in 11th grade and attending Beit El school. I just remembered for no special reason a nobody who in my opinion signs administrative restraining orders only against Jews.”

Among the “hilltop youth,” Dorfman became known for his work around the outpost of Ramat Migron, as well as someone who was close to Ben-Gvir even back then. In 2013, he married the daughter of the Lehava chairman Bentzi Gopstein, an extremist nativist organization, and in a video of his wedding on Channel 12 News he was shown dancing with knives alongside his friends.

Haaretz quoted Dorfman, then 17, at a protest against African asylum seekers in south Tel Aviv as saying: “The only problem with the Nazis is that I was on the losing side,” and that he was exempted from army service “at the demand of the Shin Bet.” According to a report on Channel 13 News, he is also the legal adviser to an organization that raises funds for jailed Jewish terrorists, including Jack Teitel, the killer of Mohammed Abu-Khdeir, and Amiram Ben-Uliel, also Dorfman’s friend and the murderer of the Dawabshe family.

Despite being barred from the West Bank by a restraining order in 2012, Dorfman was arrested in Jerusalem on suspicion of disrupting the peace in Migron and using violence against security forces, according to the verdict in Dorfman’s lawsuit against the state following a body search he had undergone.

In addition, the verdict stated that he was in possession of tear gas at the time of his arrest. However, as a result of the unprecedented verdict, Dorfman was awarded 28,000 shekels ($8,182) after it was determined that the body search was illegal and compromised his dignity. Ben-Gvir himself, who represented Dorfman, said in the media after the ruling: “It was my mission to do this for our youth. The humiliating searches of girls and boys have been quite common in my office in recent years. I am confident that this verdict will be studied for years in universities.”

Three months later, when he was arrested again in early 2013, he sued the police and the Shin Bet, and he was awarded 10,000 shekels as compensation for harsh detention conditions, including sleeping on a mattress in a police station corridor.

When Dorfman was 18 years old, he was investigated for plotting to disrupt a visit by then-President Barack Obama. In exchange for his release, Dorfman had to leave East Jerusalem’s Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood during Obama’s visit. During his interrogation, Dorfman refused to cooperate with his interrogators, and his lawyer, Ben-Gvir, asked for the ban to be overturned, claiming it violated his right to free speech.

A representative of the Shin Bet’s unit that investigates politically motivated crimes presented the court with a confidential report noting: “The police believe this is not an innocent citizen who wants to express his opinion, but rather, he is an instigator who can harm the entire society.” Ben-Gvir asked the representative during the hearing: “Do you have evidence that he wants to hurt the President?” The representative replied: “It is before the court,” referring to the confidential report. Eventually, the parties reached an agreement that Dorfman would maintain a distance of 300 meters from Obama’s motorcade through Jerusalem.

Dorfman was interviewed on the Israeli investigative TV program “Uvda” about the Shin Bet unit that investigated Jews that year. In response to a question about how far he would go to prevent the eviction of West Bank settlements, he said he would pay a personal price – including prison sentence, he said, adding that it may also include the “sacrifice of one’s soul.”

The Otzma Yehudit party responded: “Haaretz is under pressure. The statements Dorfman is alleged to have made starting at the age of 15 are lies for which he is currently suing Yossi Eli and Channel 13 News. In any case, it will be interesting to see whether Haaretz will ever investigate the work of MK Ahmad Tibi as an adviser to Yasser Arafat and the true positions of MK Mansour Abbas. We will be glad to assist and not with materials from the time when Otzma Yehudit activists were minors.”

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