A State Dept. spokesman went out of his way Thursday night to condemn a statement that was made by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on News12: “We condemn any racist statement. Such messages are especially harmful when they resonate with people in leadership positions.” Except… that’s not what Ben-Gvir said.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
It started in early August when Likud MK Avichay Buaron blamed IDF Central Command Commander Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs for the August 1 shooting attack in Ma’aleh Adumim by a PA Arab who had been awarded a work permit by the IDF civil administration.
Buaron accused Fuchs: “It is more important to him to allow freedom of movement for the Palestinians than to maintain the security of the Israelis.”
Needless to say, the statement was not received well, and even the Likud Coalition Chairman condemned it. In Israel, you just can’t say things like that about an IDF general who spends his days and nights defending the citizens of Israel. You can’t even say it when you think he’s defending them wrong.
Everybody piled up on the MK who had just joined the Likud faction last April. The IDF spokesman said: “The Chief of Staff strongly condemns the statement of MK Avichai Buaron toward the commander of the Central Command.” And former Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned: “This will end in nationalist terrorism or, God forbid, with Jews harming IDF soldiers.”
You get it? Buaron was suggesting there was something wrong in letting a PA Arab get a job in a Jewish settlement where he would go on a killing spree and blamed the man in charge: the highest IDF commander in the area who was responsible for the error. Gantz took away from it a hallucinatory notion about Jews murdering IDF soldiers in response.
The proper response should have been, if I may be so blunt, for the general to state, I messed up, we let a bad apple through the gate, and we will investigate to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
But in the Jewish State which prides itself on being the only democracy in the Middle East, with the most moral army in the world, you’re not allowed to criticize the army and its generals because, let’s face it, they can do no wrong.
Let’s move on: On Wednesday, Ben Gvir entered the News12 lions’ den and announced (among many other things): My right, my wife’s right, my children’s right to travel on the roads of Judea and Samaria supersedes the right of movement for Arabs.”
And he turned to News12 Arab reporter Mohammad Magadli and added: “I beg your pardon, Mohammad, but this is reality. This is the truth. My right to live takes precedence.”
Here’s the entire interview, which began with Ben Gvir uttering an even more unpopular truth, namely that many of the Israeli Arab victims of rampant violence have been themselves criminals who in some cases were about to murder their murderers.
I recommend to those of you who speak Hebrew to sit through these 13 minutes to get the provocative assaults by the hostess, Yonit Levy, and Ben Gvir’s gallant pushback. He definitely stuck to his guns. Even if your Hebrew is not great (with all the money your parents poured on your Hebrew school), watch it for the tones and body language. It was a rage match.
The State dept. spokesman said: “We condemn any racist statement. Such messages are especially harmful when they resonate with people in leadership positions.”
That’s for the “I beg your pardon, Mohammad.”
Ben Gvir’s English language staff (he hired a few, thank God, not a minute too soon) posted this in a tweet by the National Security Minister:
“This is how fake news is spread: I said yesterday on a TV broadcast that the right of Jews to live and not be murdered in terror attacks prevails over the right of Arabs in Judea and Samaria to travel on the roads without security restrictions. That is why checkpoints should be placed on roads where regular terrorism and shooting by Jihadists are committed against Jews.
“But the Israeli radical Left selectively cut a section out of my statement, purposefully misquoted even that, and removed the context in order to slander me as if I had made a racist declaration that Jews deserve more civil rights than Arabs.
“This is exactly how the Left continues to fan the flames of incitement in the world against the Israeli government. Because of their cynical strategy, we are now witnessing a surge of Israel haters attacking me and the State of Israel. The Left continues to cause harm to the State, just as they have hurt the economy, our social cohesion, and the IDF over the last 8 months.”
Here’s what Hans Christian Andersen would have tweeted after Buaron and Ben-Gvir called out the naked emperor:
“Two swindlers arrive at the capital city of an emperor who spends lavishly on clothing at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to supply him with magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, and they set up looms and go to work. A succession of officials, and then the emperor himself, visit them to check their progress. Each sees that the looms are empty but pretends otherwise to avoid being thought of as a fool.”
“Finally, the weavers report that the emperor’s suit is finished. They mime-dress him and he sets off in a procession before the whole city. The townsfolk uncomfortably go along with the pretense, not wanting to appear inept or stupid, until a child blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all. The people then realize that everyone has been fooled. Although startled, the emperor continues the procession, walking more proudly than ever.”
And I have it on good authority that Hans Christian Andersen was not personally familiar with either Ben Gvir or Buaron.