Editorial |

Israel Must Prevent Ultranationalists From Starting Another War

Haaretz Editorial
Right-wing Israelis marching in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
Right-wing Israelis marching in Jerusalem on Wednesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Haaretz Editorial

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was right to accept the recommendation of the public security minister, the head of the Shin Bet security service and the police commissioner to prevent MK Itamar Ben-Gvir from coming to the Old City of Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate as part of the Flag March.

That is the minimum necessary in light of Wednesday’s provocative announcement by the three groups organizing the march – Mechaat Kav Adom, Noar Ha’ir Ha’atika and Im Tirtzu. They said they would hold it on the originally planned route through Damascus Gate – right in the Palestinians’ faces – even though the police forbade it. But at least the chief pyromaniac has been barred from participating.

The police rightly feared that the march would spark a wave of violence that would spread to other cities. They remember quite well what happened at the Flag March on Jerusalem Day last May, which coincided with the end of Ramadan.

A rocket was fired at the city during the march, and afterward, Israel launched Operation Guardian of the Walls in the Gaza Strip and interethnic riots broke out throughout Israel. “We don’t want a Guardian of the Walls 2,” a senior police officer said.

The problem is that some people in Israel actually do want a Guardian of the Walls 2. Words are insufficient to describe the disgrace known as the Flag March. It’s an aggressive display of Jewish supremacy whose goal is to incite, provoke quarrels and strife and set Jerusalem, Israel and, if possible, the entire Middle East on fire.

This ugly march has absolutely nothing to do with sovereignty. Sovereignty entails comprehensive responsibility, whereas this ultranationalist march, which every year threatens to embroil Israel in a war, is the epitome of irresponsibility by a racist, benighted, privileged group that has no regard for anyone else. How ironic it is that these self-appointed experts on sovereignty are the first to ignore and to thumb their noses at the police.

Let’s remember that this march isn’t even taking place on its official date, Jerusalem Day. Last year, a new custom was started of repeating this dangerous ritual every time an opportunity arose to set the region on fire. Last year, it was after Operation Guardian of the Walls. This year, it was because Palestinians stoned buses carrying Jewish worshippers on Sunday. The only way to demonstrate sovereignty in Jerusalem is to prevent its “lovers” from carrying out their schemes.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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