The Ugliness of Far-right Lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir

Carolina Landsmann
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Itamar Ben-Gvir (L) with Bezalel Smotrich at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem, Wednesday.
Carolina Landsmann

Siri, what is ugliness? Ugliness is Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir going to Kaplan Hospital to visit a Palestinian administrative detainee who has been on hunger strike for 90 days. Ugliness is what this lowlife wrote ahead of his visit: “I’ll come to examine the terrorist Qawasme’s hospitalization conditions up-close, the treatment he’s being given, and to see for myself the miracle of a man who hasn’t eaten for months staying alive.”

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Why don’t we be realistic and admit – on the right wing too – that the anniversary of Rabin’s assassination is a sort of independence day to many, certainly for Ben-Gvir. It’s like a national holiday. In the future it might even become a holiday among the religious Zionist camp. Why obfuscate? Now this admirer of Meir Kahane, who idolizes the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein, wants – rightly, by his own lights – to have some fun on this festive occasion, and there’s no way he’s getting stuck in the Knesset on this day, listening to the droning of a Settler-Tel Avivi reconciliation government at the memorial session. You’d think somebody died or something. He’d like to knock someone on the head with one of those inflatable Independence Day balloon mallets, and whose noggin would serve better than that of the dying “terrorist Qawasme.”

We’ll never know what he schemed to do in the patient’s room. Maybe to plant a snack bar there, like Prisons Service personnel did a few years in Marwan Barghouti’s cell, tempting him into breaking a security prisoners’ hunger strike. Or maybe he intended to eat the snack himself over the man’s bed, enjoying the sight of crumbs littering his chest and tormenting his nose, with the same expression of smug stupidity smeared permanently across his face.

Siri, what is ugliness? Ugliness is the police officers who that same day prevented a detained Palestinian woman from breastfeeding her baby for some four hours, sending an activist to buy her formula, which the baby naturally rejected, until she was released unconditionally. Had Ben-Gvir known, maybe he’d have made a beeline to the Shaar Binyamin police station to continue the celebrations, drinking a bag of chocolate milk in the baby’s face – a three-month-old future terrorist.

Let’s talk seriously for once, without the hairsplitting and sanctimonious distinctions that while you opposed Oslo with all your heart, and thought Rabin a traitor and moiser, you didn’t murder him.

Of course you murdered him. Not with your own hands of course. You had nothing to do with the assassination, yet you murdered him. Not because you didn’t like Rabin. Of course you liked Rabin; who didn’t? It wasn’t personal. You just wanted to stymie a historical process whatever the cost, and you succeeded.

You have not only murdered. You’ve murdered and inherited. Does anyone have any doubt that Religious Zionism has inherited the country? Wherever you look today you see Religious Zionism. They’re everywhere. With skullcaps, without skullcaps, on the right, on the left, in the government and the opposition, throughout the army’s command structure, in the police, the state’s attorney office, the media. Today everyone speaks of Religious Zionism. After all, who the hell is the prime minister?

Wait, this is an entire column about Ben-Gvir without a word about Ayman Odeh, the Arab Knesset member who pushed him? Yes, not a word about him. Only about us, who let this monster, Ben-Gvir, become a cultural hero, and let Ayelet Shaked, that Grand Dame of Jewish Supremacy, sully Israel’s history with her hatred of black people, and who sanctified Religious Zionism, and its greedy settlements, and all this vile muck with which we have been smearing the Palestinians, and Odeh too, for decades. We’ve managed to drive even Odeh to distraction. God help us.

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