The only response that MK David Amsalem is worthy of, in the wake of conversation with Twitter users last week, is his disqualification from running in the next Knesset election.
According to Article 7A of the Basic Law on the Knesset, “A candidate's list shall not participate in elections to the Knesset, and a person shall not be a candidate for election to the Knesset, if the goals or actions of the list or the actions of the person, expressly or by implication, include one of the following: 1. Negation of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state; 2. Incitement to racism; 3. Support for armed struggle by a hostile state or a terrorist organization against the State of Israel.
This was the basis for the disqualification of Michael Ben-Ari and Benzi Gopstein.
Disqualification does infringe on one of the most fundamental democratic rights – the right to vote and to be elected – but it is grounded in the rationale of defensive democracy: laws and ruling meant to protect democracy from forces that seek to exploit the democratic process in order to abuse democracy and its principles. There is no doubt that Amsalem indeed intends to use the democratic process to abuse democracy and its principles. He says so openly and proudly, and refuses to recant.
“Soon they’ll pass a law saying the residents of development towns can’t vote – they’ll tell Moroccans that the Ashkenazim from Tel Aviv are smarter,” Amsalem tweeted. This statement is a bald lie, and also incitement against Ashkenazi Jews. Amsalem insists on calling Benjamin Netanyahu “prime minister” and to view him as “the emissary of the Holy One, blessed be He.” He has the right to view Netanyahu as God’s emissary, but he doesn’t have the right to call him prime minister. In doing so, he’s embarking on a process of denying Israel’s existence as a democracy.
- Is Likud Still the Party of Israel's Mizrahi Voters? These Experts Say Otherwise
- Going by the Incitement Targeting Him, You'd Think Bennett Was Rabin
- Shin Bet Head Warns: Online Incitement, Calls for Violence May Lead to Physical Harm
“If I become Knesset speaker,” vowed Amsalem, “I won’t let them onto Knesset grounds. Let them go to their High Court of Justice. We’ll also replace the justices right away, on the day we win.” With this vow, there is a blatant negation of Israel as a democratic state. Regarding the “judges in Jerusalem,” so highly regarded by former Likud leader Menachem Begin, Amsalem had this to say: “We’ll trample them. In order to rule, we’ll delete the word ‘justice,’” he emphasized.
A promise to replace Supreme Court justices immediately after an election victory is a clear cause for disqualification according to the principles of defensive democracy. If that isn’t a clear cause, then what is? A promise to deny entry to the Knesset to members of the current coalition and to deny them legal defense by “trampling” the rule of law is the mother of all causes for disqualifying a person from running for the Knesset. The same applies to Amsalem’s promise to “lock up” government legal advisers and senior police officials, who represent the rule of law in a democracy.
In the words of political analyst Daphna Liel on Channel 12 News Saturday evening, “This revenge scheme will end democracy as we know it.” Amsalem cannot claim in his defense that this was a slip of the tongue. On Saturday night he wrote on Facebook that he had indeed said those words and did not regret doing so.
“Just as the left is trampling us now, in [Knesset] committees and [on the floor of] the Knesset, we’ll trample them when we return to power.” In other words, after being given an extension of a few days to think about his remarks, he still clings to these opinions (“I won’t bow my head before anyone. ... I’ll present the truth and the justice of the national camp.”)
As noted, after his election victory Amsalem promises to erase all “justice” that isn’t the justice of the national camp. He must now pay the price of uttering these words, as appropriate in a democracy that is determined to defend itself. Whether the lockup he mentioned is metaphorical or actual, Amsalem is the one who should be placed in it.