From Israel: “Please! Let’s Get It Straight!!”

Distortions about Israel’s right wing are so common and so perverse that it’s impossible to challenge all of them.  I think we can be most effective if we focus on the most serious of those misrepresentations.


National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (chair, Otzma Yehudit) has taken more than his share of attacks. He is the MK the left loves to hate.  But what happened last week merits particular attention.

Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon

Following the terrorist murder of Batsheva Nigri in a drive-by shooting in the Hebron Hills, Ben Gvir said, in the course of an interview (emphasis added):

“My right, the right of my wife and my children to move around Judea and Samaria is more important than freedom of movement for the Arabs. The right to life comes before freedom of movement.”


I concur with him fully.  In fact, I have made similar comments in my writing.  When there were protests about checkpoints – checkpoints that were ultimately taken down because they allegedly deprived Arabs of their “right” to move about on the roads freely – my response was that my right to not be killed takes precedence.  If the Arabs are inconvenienced, delayed on the road because they must be checked for illegal weapons, that is, in the vernacular, “tough.”

But, of course, I am not Ben Gvir.  What I write passes without notice, while his comments cause a furor.

What transpired, in the main, is that his last point – his main point – was passed over and he was labelled a “racist” who thinks Jews have more rights on the road than Arabs do.

It was particularly irksome that the US had to get into the act.  Again.  The State Department condemned Ben Gvir’s comments as “inflammatory” and “racist rhetoric.”


Prime Minister Netanyahu came to Ben Gvir’s defense (emphasis added):

“Israel allows maximum freedom of movement in Judea and Samaria for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists take advantage of this freedom of movement to murder Israeli women, children, and families by ambushing them at certain points on different routes.

In order to prevent these heinous murders, Israel’s security forces have implemented special security measures in these areas. This is what Ben-Gvir meant when he said the right to life precedes freedom of movement”.

“Israel will continue its policy of maintaining security while affording freedom of movement for both Israelis and Palestinians.” 


Credit: Olivia Fitusi


It is good that Bibi spoke up.  

I would have made the statement stronger still.  But then, I am not the prime minister, seeking to present an image to the world of Israel’s “fair” treatment of Arabs.  

It was a grievous error to remove checkpoints some while ago in order to show the world how nice we are to the Arabs. They must be reinstated.  I have written recently about the importance of our leaders having spines of steel, and I think it applies here.

We do not need to apologize to the world for limiting the mobility of the Arabs.  When they stop trying to kill us, we can visit this issue again.  

There was criticism of Ben Gvir for saying what he did because it presents a “bad image” of Israel.  A bad image.  Our people are being murdered, and we have to justify actions taken to protect lives.    


Jonathan Tobin, editor of JNS, put it superbly (emphasis added):  

“The U.S. State Department condemned recent comments by Itamar Ben-Gvir.

But the real problem is not what the controversial cabinet member said; it’s support for a Palestinian right to terror.”


Credit: Linked-in


I applaud Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (chair, Religious Zionists), as well, for his forthright comments regarding this incident.  He is another one who has no interest in being politically correct (emphasis added):

No nation has been fighting an existential war against terror for decades more cleanly and carefully than the Jewish nation. I’m not even talking about the Americans and how they acted in Afghanistan and Iraq. They won’t preach to us about human rights, not to the IDF, and not to us on a government level. That is top-level hypocrisy.”


Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP


Smotrich has been involved in recent days in another controversy regarding the Arabs of Israel, which appears to be close to resolution now.  Large sums of money were promised to Israeli Arab communities during the previous administration.  This was in agreement with Mansour Abbas, head of the Ra’am party (the political arm of the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement), which was then part of the coalition.  The coalition needed the support of Abbas, and Abbas needed to look good to his Arab constituency.  The fact that Ra’am was strongly suspected of having Hamas connections – see https://jcpa.org/raam-and-the-israeli-islamic-movements-interaction-with-hamas-and-the-muslim-brotherhood/ – and that some portion of the promised funds was likely to end up in the wrong hands was ignored.  I recall my own deep unease at what had transpired then.


Enter a new, right-wing, government with Smotrich as Finance Minister. No funds to the Arabs communities, he declared, without proper oversight as to how that money would be utilized.  This did not play well, shall we say, although he had valid reasons for taking that stance.

His concern was with money going to terrorists and to criminal cartels.  These cartels dominate the bidding process for projects in Arab areas, he explained: “…so far there is no mechanism in place to track these bids.” 

Smotrich recently held a five-hour meeting with the leaders of 13 Arab municipalities, director of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar, and Interior Minister Moshe Arbel (Shas). Now he has announced that in a few weeks funds will be released, provided that mechanisms for tracking the money are in place.

A total of 200 million shekels will go to the Interior Ministry, which will establish mechanisms for the distribution of the funds.



Smotrich’s stand is a valid one, but that does not make it popular.  It is more politically correct to accuse him of being anti-Arab, in spite of the fact that he made the point – which should be obvious – that money in the hands of Arab criminal cartels hurts the Arab community.

Let me remind my readers that Arab citizens are begging for the government to protect them from the criminal element in their communities.


Most people do not begin to grasp the enormity of the power of the Arab criminal cartels. A long-standing situation that has been allowed to fester, it has increased in severity of late.  

ꟷArab crime groups operate extortion rackets: all businesses pay protection money in certain areas, particularly in the Negev.  This practice, which is not new, has only intensified over time.  I’ve heard stories of business owners who pay protection money to two different competing cartels.

ꟷOn Saturday, six members of the same family were injured in a shooting in the Israeli-Arab town of Kafr Kanna in the Galilee. “Preliminary investigations by the police suggest this was a calculated criminal act, potentially an assassination attempt, rooted in an ongoing family feud in Kafr Kanna.” (emphasis added)


ꟷLess than a week ago, the police uncovered a tunnel tens of meters long near Nazareth, which they believe was used by the dangerous Samir Bakri Arab crime cartel. It served as a hideout during police raids and when members of the cartel were being pursued.  There is also suspicion that it was used to smuggle arms.



I wish fervently that I could predict a better time for Israel in the near future, but that is not likely.  

We may be headed to a constitutional crisis within a month as the government and the High Court face down. Needless to say, I will be following this.


We are, as well, still dealing with the so-called anti-judicial reform protestors coming out on the street.  It is wearisome in the extreme, indeed demoralizing.  They cry about winning for democracy, but their behavior is anything but democratic.

Recently, opposition leader Yair Lapid (chair, Yesh Atid) addressed a large gathering in Tel Aviv, at which time he said (emphasis added):

“…Netanyahu has no control over anything. This is a dysfunctional government, and it needs to go home. This is our plan…Fight them until they go…to fight until this government falls.

“It’s not far away. This the government will fall, and we will go to elections and come back with a true unity government.”


Credit: Anadolu Agency

The truth is out, exposed unequivocally by Lapid.  The opposition consistently claims that their actions are meant to block judicial reforms that would destroy democracy.  But the reality, as Lapid makes crystal clear, is that they are about power and taking down a democratically elected government.       

While they maintain that they are saving democracy, they are actually undermining it.

I and many others have been writing about this, but here you have it in Lapid’s own words.  

The democratic way would be to plan vigorously for the next election, doing grassroots work, promoting their agenda in public forums, etc.

And so please, my friends, share this broadly!           


There is another way in which the protestors are behaving undemocratically: having segued from legitimate protest demonstrations into harassment. They cross the line of what is permissible, all the while claiming it is their right to behave thus. It is not, and it is very ugly, very unseemly.

I wrote recently about the manner in which Prime Minister Netanyahu and his family were harassed on their vacation.  But what has been done to MK Simcha Rothman (RZ, chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee) is worse still.  

Rothman went with his family, wife and young children, to take a badly needed vacation in the beautiful Majrase Nature Reserve north of the Kinneret.

Protesters got wind of this fact and established a WhatsApp group to alert people to his whereabouts so they could go and unendingly harass them.

One message read:

“Are you around [the Majrase river]? Let’s tell him that fascists who destroy democracy like him are not welcome anywhere!”


“We created a silent [WhatsApp] group where we will post messages related to the visit of the democracy destroyer and play the lovely game of ‘Where’s Simcha?’: we’ll tell you where he is throughout the day – and you will take a flag and a zamboorak and simply show up to make his visit delightful.”



Rothman sought a restraining order against the 400 “activists” (the Jewish Press calls them “anarchists,” while I might call them idiots) on the WhatsApp group.

“Demonstration is an important and sacred right, but persecution, disruption and harassment are violations of the law,” Rothman said.


On Sunday, Jerusalem Magistrates Court ruled to restrict the ways in which anti-government protesters  could harass Rothman’s family during vacation.  

Rothman then tweeted: “I’m happy that the court saw fit to draw a clear line that differentiates between freedom to protest and the right to demonstrate – which are very important – and harassment, bullying and harm to the family of an elected official.

“Even if I believe the line should be moved elsewhere, the very drawing of the line is very important. Civil lawsuits will follow in accordance with the Privacy Protection Law and the judge’s recommendation.”


I speak of leaders with spines of steel.  That’s Simcha, for certain.

Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Jpost


I don’t want to leave the impression that all is somber, for that is not the case.  And so, I close with just a few good news items to provide perspective:

[] Two weeks ago, the US credit evaluation firm Fitch Ratings reaffirmed Israel’s A+ score with a “stable” outlook.  Said the firm: the current judicial reform measures “are unlikely to trigger a material exodus of talent and capital in the high-tech sector.”


[] Amazon.com, announcing that it is planning to invest about $7.2 billion through 2037 in Israel, launched its Amazon Web Services (AWS) data centers in the country.


[] The Ministry of Defense has announced that its new spy plane, Oron, is entering its testing stage. Said Lt. Col. Yoed, head of the Defense Ministry’s Research and Development Missionized Aircraft Branch:

“The unique capabilities of the ORON ISR System include the ability to accurately track multiple targets across a wide area of coverage, in all weather and visibility conditions, with high precision over great distances and in real time, enabling a decisive and timely response to all threats.”


Credit: Ministry of Defense

[] “A revolution in heart health is seemingly imminent as an Israeli startup has invented a machine that diagnoses heart problems at a patient’s bedside within minutes – with a success rate of over 90%…

“’While the accuracy of diagnosing heart failure through a physical examination alone, using a stethoscope, is 35%, the accuracy with AISAP testing is over 95%,’ said Prof. Robert Klempner, the director of Sheba’s Heart Rehabilitation Institute.”



© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.