Opinion |

Jewish Racists Also Cry, but They Don't Condemn – Just Look at This 'Centrist' Lawmaker

Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann
Yesh Atid Lawmaker Merav Ben Ari at the Knesset, in May.
Yesh Atid Lawmaker Merav Ben Ari at the Knesset, in May.Credit: Danny Shem-Tov/Knesset Spokesperson's Office
Carolina Landsmann
Carolina Landsmann

Our Meravy was very insulted. Ahmad called her scum. And why, for heaven’s sake? What did she do to deserve that horrid slur? After all, she’s so polite, so correct, so Jewish and democratic.

All the Yesh Atid lawmaker Merav Ben Ari did was to appear on television – the day after the entire world saw officers from the Israel Police charge at mourners during the funeral of the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and disperse them with batons, nearly causing the pallbearers to drop the coffin – and to reiterate that she would express no regret over Abu Akleh’s death. For that, she deserved to be called scum? What’s the big deal?

To be shocked by Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi’s harsh description of Ben Ari – that gets the award of the year for taking something out of context. Yes, Tibi went to extremes, but in order to determine whether he was too hard on her the remark must be weighed against what Ben Ari said that provoked him.

Ben Ari’s performance was one of the most egregious ultra-right shows ever seen in Israel. Just for comparison’s sake, her fellow panelists were Erez Tadmor, a co-founder of Im Tirtzu, and Nadav Haetzni, a lawyer who has represented the far-right organization.

They were moderates next to her. I never saw them so comfortable before – and why not, with Ms. Center representing their positions and rightward (“an ultranationalist wave throughout the country”; “Palestinian flags all over the country”; “When other journalists are killed there are no demands for an international investigation,” and so on). Compared to Ben Ari, Likud MK Galit Distal Atbaryan, who preceded her on the panel, sounded like a left-wing extremist.

Journalist Mohammad Magadli was the first to notice Ben Ari’s hardheartedness (“It lost all proportion. If you enter a gunfight, you have to consider…”), and that for some reason she wanted everyone to see it. When he told her that he expected to hear her express regret or sorrow over Abu Akleh’s death, Ben Ari couldn’t figure out why he was bothering her.

“What for? Me? Excuse me, I can’t understand, like, what’s the issue?” Magadli asked again and she replied: “Are you asking me? I express sorrow over the death of Warrant Officer Noam Raz, who was killed” Rina Mazliah interrupted her: “What’s that have to do with it?” and Magadli continued to question Ben Ari as if he was possessed. And then she came out with it: “With all due respect, why do I have to? Do I know her? No.”

This was not a one-time performance. Ben Ari’s racism is a part of her. This is what the insulted and fragile lawmaker had to tweet after Tibi’s remark: “Ahmad Tibi, the saboteur of police work. … Disgusting, I’ve run out of words. He should go home.”

What a cheap trick. Like hidden advertising in some B-rated movie, Ben Ari coarsely inserted into her self-righteous tweet the genuinely racist content she wants to sell: Tibi is a saboteur – (Ben Ari wrote mehabel, commonly translated also as “terrorist.”)

And as if that was not enough, in an interview with Army Radio she slandered the Arab Knesset members when she asked when did an Arab MK ever express sorrow over the murder of Jews in a terror attack. As if she were not familiar with the ritual of condemnation that all Arabs are required to perform after every attack, and Magadli had the chutzpah to ask this from her, as if she were an Arab.

To adopt Merav Ben Ari’s style, I “do not express regret” over her sense of insult. This week we learned that racists cry too.

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