“Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent.”
By World Israel News Staff
The U.S. on Thursday slammed as “abhorrent” the attendance of firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir, set to become a senior member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s incoming government, at a memorial event for Meir Kahane, despite being booed by other attendees for rejecting the late Jewish extremist’s call for the mass expulsion of Arabs.
“Celebrating the legacy of a terrorist organization is abhorrent. There is no other word for it. It is abhorrent. We remain concerned by the legacy of Kahane Chai and the continued use of rhetoric among violent right-wing extremists,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
“We’ve condemned incitement, violence and racism in all of it’s forms. There’s a good reason why Kahane Chai remains designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. We urge all parties to maintain calm, exercise restraint and to refrain from actions that only serve to exacerbate tensions. That includes in Jerusalem,” Price said.
Ben-Gvir, who was the runaway winner of last week’s elections when his Otzma Yehudit party won 14 seats on a joint slate with the Religious Zionism party, has demanded the Public Security ministry.
His inclusion in the next government has raised concerns across the world, from the Biden administration, Jewish progressive groups in the U.S., and Arab nations. As public security minister, Ben-Gvir would be in charge of Israel Police, which are entrusted with law enforcement on the flashpoint Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Ben-Gvir has been a vocal critic of the police for using their court-granted carte blanche to close the site to Jewish visitors. As a regular visitor there, he has advocated for strengthening Israeli sovereignty over Judaism’s holiest site in the face of repeated Arab violence.
He has also blasted Israeli authorities for arresting Jewish visitors for praying or even sitting quietly on the Mount, contravening the so-called “status quo,” even though Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld — at least in theory — freedom of worship at the holy site.
President Isaac Herzog was caught on hot mic Wednesday telling Shas representatives that the “entire world is worried about Ben-Gvir.”
At Thursday’s memorial ceremony, Ben-Gvir said he believed that “ultimately Rabbi Kahane was about love. Love for Israel without compromise, without any other consideration.”
However, he was met with jeering when he said he did not agree with Kahane’s call to expel all Arabs.
“It is no secret that today I am not Rabbi Kahane and I do not support the deportation of all Arabs, and I will not enact laws for separate beaches, although it is certain that we will act and do everything to expel terrorists from the country for the sake of the Jewish character of Israel, for the settlements and its Jewish identity,” Ben Gvir said.
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