Photo Credit: Cezary p
Europe Day parade in Warsaw, May 11, 2008.

First, the press release: “National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was assigned as the representative of the Israeli government on Europe Day, and confirmed his arrival. Among other things, the minister will speak about the importance of the joint war on terrorism, congratulate the European countries, call for the strengthening of cooperation, and stress the need to unite around the fight against jihad and terrorists, while suggesting that it is appropriate for the European countries to finance projects against IDF soldiers and Israeli residents. The minister believes that even if EU representatives “do not support his views,” as was noted in their announcement, they understand very well that Israel is a democracy, and in a democracy, it is allowed to hear different opinions as well.”

Intrigued? Let’s unpack. Europe Day, to be marked on Tuesday, May 9, by the European Union, celebrates “peace and unity in Europe.” It’s a good day to have any time, but especially when the potential precursor of WW3 is taking place, yes, in Europe.


Ben Gvir was assigned as the government’s representative on Europe Day by the government’s secretariat, which deals with placing ministers at receptions held on the national days held by the foreign embassies. The ministerial assignments are made weeks in advance, which was the case with Ben Gvir.

Somebody in the European Union embassy in Tel Aviv must have read the government’s decision to be represented at their festive event to which ambassadors from all over the world were invited, together with the right kind of Israeli celebs (and by right kind, I mean the left kind). So, the EU asked Israel’s Foreign Ministry to send someone else.

The Haaretz editorial response Sunday morning was packed with righteous ire, it was well worth the price: “The appointment is not random, of course. Of all the useless ministers in the 37th government, they picked the reddest muleta in stock. It’s not just a finger in the eye to Europe, it’s a triple finger in the eye. Although many Israelis already accept as a matter-of-fact Ben Gvir’s new public status, for the Europeans, he is still considered––and rightfully so––a man who is the symbol of Kahanist racism, and the name of his party, Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), sounds in translation to any European language as a throwback to the continent’s darkest days.”

This is so delicious: the problem with Ben Gvir is that he reminds the Europeans of their darkest days. It reminded me of the European writer Hans Christian Anderson, about the little boy who cried out that the emperor was marching naked in the city streets. The problem is not with the naked emperor in the Haaretz version of the fable, it’s with Ben Gvir.

“This is sad historical irony at its best: Europe is trying to hold on to the rest of its power in the world of democratic-liberal values that emerged as a counter-reaction to the horrors of WW2, and it’s the Jewish State that seeks to challenge these values head-on (and to claim afterward that its foreign relations with those countries are based on ‘shared values’),” Haaretz continues.

Haaretz concluded by calling on the EU to cancel the ceremony altogether, since every picture snapped at the event that shows Ben Gvir with any of the dignitaries (they anticipate the Hungarians and Poles to be on hand lavishly) would be a public relations victory for the national security minister.

Seriously? And what should they do with all the sandwiches and drinks, send them to Ukraine?

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