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Shaked: He's 'tarring' a law-abiding, ideological community

Nettling ministers, Barlev invokes Rabin murder to condemn ‘danger’ in their remarks

Public security minister likens right-wing politicians’ criticism of him to Netanyahu’s actions ahead of 1995 assassination of PM

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev in Nazareth, November 9, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90) and (L) Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, October 31, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev in Nazareth, November 9, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90) and (L) Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem, October 31, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Right-wing ministers hit back on Tuesday after coalition partner Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said that their casting him as an “enemy” of the right wing was similar to what Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu had done in the run-up to the assassination of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Barlev’s comments came a day after he accused his fellow ministers of making out that he was “the enemy” of West Bank settlers. Barlev told a Labor party faction meeting on Monday that three ministers were to blame for the incitement against him, an apparent reference to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel.

Shaked of the right-wing Yamina party said Tuesday that Barlev was maligning an entire community.

“The burning tasks facing the Public Security Ministry are many,” Shaked tweeted. “Tarring a law-abiding and ideological community is not one of them.”

Hendel also pushed back. “It is my duty as a cabinet minister to criticize members of the cabinet when they are wrong. Omer has many merits but he is not immune from criticism,” Hendel tweeted. “I will fight against incitement with all my might and in favor of factual criticism. Always.”

Both Hendel and Shaked tweeted their statements along with a clip from the interview in which the comparison with Netanyahu was made.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel in Modi’in, December 5, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“I have no doubt that this was not [the ministers’] intention but in practice their response is that I am the enemy of all settlers, that I do not understand security, that I ignore threats from Palestinian terrorist organizations and that I spread a false narrative — the reactions are extreme and we have seen it on the [social] networks,” Barlev said, without naming the ministers.

“We all remember that former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-leader of the opposition, stood on the balcony in Zion Square and in the procession below him were images of the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin with SS uniforms and a coffin, and he did not condemn it,” said Barlev. “Netanyahu did not mean, God forbid, that it should lead to the assassination of an Israeli prime minister, but in the end his passivity did not stop these trends.”

When asked if he was directly equating the two situations, Barlev said: “I am making the comparison with politicians who do not want an extremist to interpret their words; however, if people do not consider their words then extremists could take it into their own hands. There is danger in what is being said.”

Barlev on Monday revealed that he had been given round-the-clock protection due to threats against him by Jewish Israelis. He did not specify the nature of the threats or who had made them.

“Starting this morning I am under guard 24/7,” Barlev wrote on Twitter. “Following my determined campaign against the Arab crime families, I hoped that the moment would not arrive when one of them would threaten me personally. But that is not the case. I am not under threat from Arab criminals — I am threatened by Israeli Jews,” wrote Barlev, whose ministry is responsible for the police.

The minister caused a storm earlier this month when he said he had discussed “settler violence” with a visiting American diplomat. Critics, including Barlev’s right-wing coalition partners, have accused him of generalizing from the actions of a few extremists to condemn an entire community.

Masked men, allegedly Israeli settlers, wield clubs during what eyewitnesses and police called an attack on Palestinians seeking to harvest olives near Surif, on November 12, 2021. (Credit: Shai Kendler)

While no official figures have been released, the Shin Bet has reported a 50 percent rise in extremist Jewish attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank over the past year. Palestinian rights groups say the assailants are rarely prosecuted, reporting that the vast majority of cases are closed without indictments.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had tacitly joined other right-wing coalition members and opposition lawmakers who criticized Barlev for the remarks.

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