'The Palestinians are engaging in Nazism, in murdering Jews'

Coalition MK calls Palestinians ‘Palestinazis,’ urges TikTok ban in East Jerusalem

As Itamar Ben Gvir’s far-right Otzma Yehudit reiterates disappointment with government’s policies, faction MK Almog Cohen says Palestinians have ‘Nazi culture,’ urges harsh steps

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen attends a right wing counterprotest against a demonstration by Arab Israeli students and left-wing activists against Israeli army operations in Jenin, at Tel Aviv University, January 30, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen attends a right wing counterprotest against a demonstration by Arab Israeli students and left-wing activists against Israeli army operations in Jenin, at Tel Aviv University, January 30, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s extremist Otzma Yehudit party continued Thursday to rail against the coalition, of which it is a member, for its policies toward the Palestinians.

One party member warned of a real threat to the government, advocated a “chokehold” on East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and repeatedly likened Palestinians to the Nazis.

Ben Gvir declared his disappointment Wednesday with the right-wing government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after it uprooted trees planted illegally by a settler near Shiloh in the West Bank. He said the policy “cannot continue,” while also decrying an incident in which his party MK Limor Son Har-Melech said she was sexually assaulted by a police officer.

Ben Gvir’s threat regarding the continued cohesion of the coalition is “serious,” Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen told Radio 103FM on Thursday. “We joined the government on the basis of a promise that it will be a fully right-wing government, and this policy can’t continue.

“If we don’t get the relevant tools to restore personal safety, we won’t be part of the mission,” he said. “We don’t prefer the scenario of a left-wing government, but… we didn’t come to get lucrative jobs, but to create a change.”

On Wednesday, when Cohen was being interviewed by the Kan public broadcaster about the incident in the Shiloh settlement, he casually used the term “Palestinazi villages” when referring to Palestinian towns in the area.

“Had I known [the tree uprooting] was happening I would’ve been there myself and protested against the selective enforcement,” Cohen said. “It’s important to understand, this is an enclave between many Palestinazi villages, which come there and grab the land.”

When the interviewers asked him why he had used the term and whether he was likening the residents of those towns to Nazis, Cohen doubled down on the comparison.

“Right now, the Palestinians are engaging in Nazism, in murdering Jews. There is a Nazi culture there,” he said, citing Friday’s ramming terror attack in Jerusalem, in which three Jewish Israelis were killed, including two brothers aged 5 and 7.

When one of the interviewers noted that in the case of the Nazis the murder of millions of Jews in the Holocaust was systematic and organized, Cohen replied: “It is systematic and organized here too.”

“So, all Palestinians are Nazis?” asked the incredulous interviewer.

“No, God forbid, not all of them are Nazis,” Cohen said. “There is currently incitement — whoever wants to see it on TikTok is welcome — Nazi incitement to the murder of Jews. Thirteen-year-old teenagers who go out to murder Jews are no better than the Nazis who murdered Jews. There is no difference.”

View of buildings in East Jerusalem, February 1, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In a separate interview Thursday with the Ynet news site, Cohen advocated blocking the entire TikTok social network for all of East Jerusalem, calling it “a crazy incitement zone that is creating the next terrorist.”

In addition, Cohen said, Israel should impose “a chokehold around the neighborhoods — intensive activity every night and isolation of the neighborhoods [prone to produce attackers].”

He lamented that with the current government policy, “we are getting a different product to what was promised to us — a trickling of rockets [from Gaza] and terror attacks. The response to the attacks should be much more crushing and decisive.”

On Wednesday, party leader Ben Gvir launched an attack on the Netanyahu government, saying: “We joined the government on the basis of a commitment that it would be a completely right-wing government, and this policy cannot continue.”

“There were serious incidents at Shiloh, including a shocking attack against my friend Limor Son Har-Melech,” the far-right minister said in a video posted to social media (police have insisted the MK was treated respectfully as she attempted to prevent them from carrying out their orders).

“A fully right-wing government is not supposed to refrain from demolishing Khan al-Ahmar due to diplomatic considerations or avoid touching [illegally built] buildings in East Jerusalem because of this or that policy consideration. A fully right-wing government cannot be a government that’s only strong against Jews,” Ben Gvir said.

View of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar, in the West Bank on January 23, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Last week the government, for the ninth time, delayed the evacuation of the illegally built Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, despite a 2018 High Court decision calling on the government to implement its own policy and raze the village.

The evacuation of the village has been pushed off repeatedly for four years, largely owing to the significant public interest in the affair from human rights activists, pro-Palestinian groups and the European Union. Multiple bodies have warned that moving it could constitute a war crime, as displacement of a population under military rule is forbidden under international law.

Ben Gvir also reportedly clashed with Netanyahu and police chief Kobi Shabtai on Tuesday after the pair refused his wish to demolish structures built illegally by Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

Ash Obel and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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