Methodically, if Not Quietly, Miri Regev Is Changing the Israeli Consensus

Wherever there is an absence of initiative, vision or policy, the Likud MK creates her own - and others are compelled to follow.

A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el
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A photo of Dr. Zvi Bar'el.
Zvi Bar'el

Israel’s most important political leader today is Likud MK Miri Regev. She is the only Israeli politician who has managed to learn the secret of how the country is run.

Wherever there is an absence of initiative, vision or policy, she creates her own, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to act like a eunuch.

Regev is like a female terrorist walking around with a hand grenade held in her clenched fist and the safety ring between her teeth. If the need arises, she will initiate a law for the annexation of the Jordan Valley or force the government to get rid of the African asylum-seekers who have come to Israel’s shores - or at least imprison them in an “open” concentration camp. It's also her duty to declare the moral borders of the Jewish state and define the identity of its citizens.

At least once a day, as befits this self-appointed national public diplomacy spokesperson, her nerve-grating screams can be heard on one of the country’s radio or television stations. Her chauvinistic-racist populism is as lethal as the point of an arrow and no one, not even the prime minister, would dare criticize it. The only option is “If you can’t beat them, join them” and therefore you can only join her or bow low as you pray that she will quickly pass over your head.

On the surface, Regev strikes one as a ludicrous figure. Although she has an undergraduate degree in informal education and a Master’s degree in business administration, the most memorable words in her vocabulary are the command she shouts out at almost every audience, “Okay, everyone, now clap your hands!” Her intonations are reminiscent of a pack of hyenas in heat and her sense of humor is about as funny as a kitchen chair. However, with those intonations and that sense of humor, she is a one-woman traveling show and it's impossible to know where she will pop up next or what surprises she will pull out of her magician’s hat.

Her latest stunt is to propose a bill for the annexation of the Jordan Valley. The explanation she offers for this legislative initiative is the height – or nadir – of banality: The law is intended, she claims, “to protect Israel’s national security interests, the Jewish character of the settlements in the Jordan Valley and the safety of the Jewish settlers.” After all, what could be more acceptable to the national consensus than Israel’s retention of the Jordan Valley and what could be more natural than a mechanism for preserving the valley’s Jewish character?

If one seriously considers Regev’s proposed law – and it should be considered seriously – one cannot help but wonder why she has not included other Jewish settlements in the West Bank or blocs of settlements where there is a Jewish majority. Why should a distinction be made between the need to protect the “Jewish identity” of the Jordan Valley and the need to protect the “Jewish identity” of Hebron, the Gush Etzion region or the Ariel bloc? But have no fear, gentle reader, their turn will come. The rationale that Regev presents for the annexation of the Jordan Valley applies to those areas as well.

A second inconsistency can be found in the phrasing of the proposed law: Regev talks about annexing “only” the Jordan Valley. But what about the Jordan Valley highway? What about its airspace? And what are the Palestinians who live in the valley supposed to do? Go through 20 checkpoints and iron gates in order to go from one village or town to another? After all, it is obvious that the entire Jordan Valley would be annexed under Regev’s proposed legislation, as well as the broad expanse that connects Jerusalem with the valley, because you cannot annex the Jordan Valley without also annexing the roads leading to it and the isolated settlements scattered along the Jordan Valley.

Even the security argument behind this proposal is rooted in falsehood. While Netanyahu fears the prospect of missiles being fired from the West Bank at Ben-Gurion International Airport – missiles that would not take into account the principle of “strategic depth” – Regev fears the prospect of tanks emanating from the territory of the Kingdom of Jordan and racing up the Jordan Valley toward Jerusalem, which is only a stone’s throw, after all, from the southern city of Kiryat Gat, Regev’s hometown.

However, to prevent that kind of scenario, the Israel Defense Forces need only position forces at strategic crossing points along the western bank of the Jordan River, because what possible benefit could be offered by the annexed Jordan Valley settlements (should Regev’s proposal become law,) which would become a burden on the shoulders of the Israeli troops holding back the enemy’s advance? And, if the IDF is unable to block the enemy’s advance, do not the Jewish settlements of the Hebron hills deserve to be protected? Obviously, according to Regev’s logic, they should be annexed as well – and the sooner the better.

Here lies the secret of Regev’s various stunts. Initially, they appear so simplistic and transparent, real museum pieces. But make no mistake, gentle reader, most of those ostensible museum pieces quickly become part of the national consensus. Behind Regev’s façade of a haggling Middle Eastern merchant lurks a shrewd mind that knows how to identify the loose brick in the wall that will enable the entire structure to fall on the heads of Israel’s citizens. If Israel has no prime minister, it can at least be grateful that it has Miri to defend it.

Miri Regev, now minister of culture and sport, waving the flag at a women's panel.Credit: Amir Avramovich

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