Itamar Ben-Gvir, who described a Jewish extremist who massacred 29 Palestinians as his “hero”, could be elected to Israel’s parliament next week thanks partly to right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Ben-Gvir’s political life has had many incarnations, including the leader of the Jewish Power party and his current candidacy for the Religious Zionism alliance, which polls show could win four seats in Tuesday’s election.
But amid shifting alliances, key aspects of Ben-Gvir’s ideology have remained constant.
Itamar Ben-Gvir is leader of the extremist/racist Otzma Yehudit party, an offshoot of Kahane Chai, which has been designated by the State Dept as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. This is who Netanyahu is trying to bring into the Knesset as part of his far-right coalition. https://t.co/eMAvbanAwG
— Khaled Elgindy (@elgindy_) February 6, 2021
He was inspired by the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach movement wanted to expel Palestinian-Israelis from the state. Kahane was elected to parliament in 1984 but was disqualified from running again in 1988 due to his party’s racism.
Kahane, assassinated in New York in 1990, provided ideological inspiration for Baruch Goldstein, who massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (Al-Khalil) in 1994.
Ben-Gvir has on multiple occasions voiced admiration for Goldstein and hung a portrait of the convicted mass-murderer in his home.
His Jewish Power party also backs Israel’s annexation of the entire occupied West Bank, which is home to some 2.8 million Palestinians.
Ahead of the upcoming Israeli elections, Netanyahu has aligned with some of the most violent and extreme-right politicians in Israel, including Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted of incitement to racism and support for a terrorist organization. https://t.co/D3QpGOv1iC pic.twitter.com/nNUMB9L3A9
— IMEU (@theIMEU) February 23, 2021
Netanyahu is facing his fourth re-election battle in less than two years and polls show he could again struggle to secure a majority in the 120-seat parliament.
Seeking to make up a potential loss of seats to the New Hope party formed last year by prominent defectors from his Likud movement, Netanyahu helped orchestrate a new alliance of far-right religious nationalists.
If this new bloc, Religious Zionism, crosses the minimum threshold required to sit in parliament, it would likely provide the pro-Netanyahu camp with four desperately needed additional seats.
(The New Arab, PC, Social Media)