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Ben-Gvir praises Kahane, hilltop settlers in maiden Knesset speech

CM 26/04/2021

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 In his maiden speech to the Knesset, MK Itamar Ben-Gvir of the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionist Party gave praise to his ideological mentor Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose Kach Party was banned from the Knesset for racism, and praised “hilltop” settlers for their dedication. 

During his speech, Ben-Gvir denounced a recent High Court of Justice ruling recognizing Reform conversions performed in Israel for the purposes of citizenship; said he would work towards passing a High Court override law; “send infiltrators home” in reference to African asylum seekers; and work for the settlement movement. 
Labor MK and Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, in response, denounced Ben-Gvir as a racist and said it was “shameful” that he is a legislator in the Israeli parliament. 
Ben-Gvir started out by detailing his professional and ideological career, noting that he joined Kahane’s Kach movement and who he praised for “combatting antisemitism” and “his devotion to Soviet Jewry.”
The Kach Party that Kahane led before he was assassinated in 1990 also advocated for racial segregation in Israel, and was banned from running for the Knesset in 1988 for incitement to racial hatred. 
Ben-Gvir praised his colleagues in the far-right, Kahanist Otzma Yehudit Party, a constituent of the Religious Zionist Party, namely Michael Ben Ari, Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein, all of whom have been banned by the High Court from running for Knesset due to incitement to racial hatred.
The MK said his fellow Otzma members were “Zionists” and “lovers of Israel,” while lamenting that Arab MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi are allowed to enter the Knesset even though “they speak against the state, the army, the nation.”

The freshman MK denounced the recent High Court ruling on Reform conversion, and said one of his goals would be to work for reform of the justice system, including passing a High Court override that would allow the Knesset to reinstate legislation struck down by the High Court.
Ben-Gvir also praised “the heroic settlers who cling to all parts of our land,” and who described as “sacrificing themselves to settle the land.”
He said in particular that he would learn from “the people of the hilltops” in reference to the so-called hilltop youth who live in remote dwellings in the Judea and Samaria highlands without authorization from the state. 
The MK said “We all should learn from the dedicated people of the hilltops, who settle the land out of holiness and purity and Torah study.”
Ben-Gvir noted specifically that he would provide assistance to the ultra-Orthodox community, a notable inclusion in his speech due to the fact that the Religious Zionist Party received a significant number of votes from that sector. 
But he added that he would also work for “those who are not Jewish but are loyal to the State of Israel, and fight with us shoulder to shoulder,” pointing specifically to the Druze community with whom he said the Jewish people had “a pact of blood and a pact of life.”
Kariv said that it was “a great honor that the racist Ben-Gvir mentioned the fight against Reform conversion [and] a great honor that he mentioned the banning of Ben Ari, Marzel and Gopstein by the High Court in cases brought by the Reform movement.”
Added Kariv “It is a great embarrassment to the Knesset of Israel and to Zionism that this man is a legislator in the State of Israel.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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