In a meeting last week of the ministerial committee on national security, known as the Political-Security Cabinet, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) made the following combative statement: “Settler violence is a national strategic threat, planned actions aimed at causing bloodshed,” Army radio reported Sunday morning.
This is not just a slogan, a flippant comment at a political rally. When a member of the country’s most important government forum says it, in the presence of the prime minister and defense minister, it’s a call for policy change.
According to the report, PM Bennett did not respond to Horowitz’s harsh remarks, maybe because they weren’t followed by a suggestion for policy change. But an Army Radio asked the PM’s office and they responded that there’s no room for generalizations against the settlers, but still, violence should be addressed.
Two Political-Security Cabinet members – Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev – have been involved in both talk and action against “settler violence,” at a time when Arab violence in Judea and Samaria as well as inside Green Line Israel, has been soaring.
Horowitz added that “the army needs to do more in this regard,” at which point, Gantz was outraged and said that “the IDF is doing a lot and is working to reinforce the police in these arenas.” Gantz also said that “IDF soldiers are responsible for preventing many incidents.”
Bennett said something similar in response to yet another attack, By Barlev, on the same issue, differentiating between good and bad settlers. General (res.) Gershon HaCohen, who was in charge of the 2005 Gush Katif expulsion, told Kan 11 that “Bennett’s reaction to Barlev’s remarks is incorrect. He shouldn’t have said that there’s no need to generalize. He should have praised, not attacked even the few individuals in question. If we had 2,000 hill youths in the Negev – our situation would have been better.”
Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, reacted sharply to the Meretz Minister’s wild attack:
“Nitzan Horowitz is infected with a strain of post-Corona severe hatred of Jews, a strain that probably affects not only the heart but also the eyes. The shame is not in the things he said, for we have become accustomed to words of delusional hatred from the people of the radical and insane extreme left. The shame is that such a person is a minister in the Israeli government and a member of the cabinet.”
“Everyone knows that the citizens of Judea and Samaria are the number one law abiders in the State of Israel,” Dagan continued. “According to Israel Police, there’s the least amount of crime in Judea and Samaria, including the so-called price tag, compared to every other district in the State of Israel. No public is more law-abiding than the public in Judea and Samaria. But for Nitzan Horowitz, the most important thing is to defame and slander and spread hate, this is the content of the people of the extreme left, this is what fills them.”
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, chaired by MK Gilad Kariv (Labor), convened last Wednesday for another special debate on violent Israeli citizens in Judea and Samaria. The chairman invited extreme left-wing NGOs to report on “settler violence,” including Breaking the Silence, Rabbis for Human Rights.
This got a rise out of MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism), who told the chairman:
“One of the leading figures of our nation, Natan Sharansky, established a criterion for distinguishing between antisemitism and legitimate criticism of Israel—the 3-D test: Delegitimization, Demonization, and Double Standard. What’s happening here is a double standard, because in the Constitution Committee, whose agenda is supposed to address discrimination, equality, preservation of constitutional values and law enforcement in ‘little’ Israel and Judea and Samaria—this is already the second debate within two or three weeks that you are holding on an issue that is very marginal numerically, in terms of the number of victims and harm.”
“…yesterday evening there was something that does fall under your purview—the Israel Police does not let Jewish citizens enter and says that Jews cannot walk around freely in Eretz Israel. Isn’t that an infraction of constitutional values? You hold discussions on harm that maybe happens, and the number of victims from it over the years can be counted on the fingers of one hand, by organizations that are a group of dirty hypocrites. All their actions are aimed at committing harm and doing the three Ds to the citizens of Israel, and they are the ones you invite here. No one is interested in what you’re doing here now, the people who paid your salary until you entered the Knesset are the ones who are interested. You’re using your power in the most radical way possible. What you’re doing today is the three Ds, and that is the difference between criticism aimed at making a change and criticism that is a modern form of antisemitism.”
MK Kariv responded: “I refuse to get excited by the blatant language and by the fact that you accuse me of antisemitism. I say to you: Get used to it.”
For a while, anyway, until a broad, right-wing coalition dumps Kariv and Labor in the trash bin of political history.