Opinion: The religious Zionist public initially dismissed the far-right lawmaker as a radical, but once they understood he could get them power in the Knesset, they began claiming he is simply a victim of misconception

The religious Zionists, I mean the actual people and not the party, have always believed they must respond to a calling.

It is their calling to be religious Jews, Zionists and the vanguards for the people of Israel in a life of service that includes settling the Land of Israel. But, such a sense of calling has its price, and it is often heavy.

גבעת ארנון
A Jewish settlement in the West Bank (Photo: AFP)


With the intent to do good, religious Zionists often blindly did very bad, and legitimizing Itamar Ben-Gvir and turning him into the brand he has become, is one o.

This time the culprit was no other than Benjamin Netanyahu, who turned to his long-time allies in the religious right for a lifeline to save his political career.

It was just a “small favor” Netanyahu was asking for when he urged the party representing most of the religious Zionist public to partner with the far-right lawmaker, so that the Likud leader could increase his chances in the November 1 elections and ensure his power.

Now, Netanyahu continues to be mired by his criminal trial for corruption and his political antics, while Ben-Gvir has become the essence of religious Zionism – even his party is called The Religious Zionist Party. He transcended from the parasite on the back of the political representatives of that public to the very agent of its message.

הפגנה בשייח ג'ראח
Itamar Ben-Gvir flanked by police at right-wing demonstration in east Jerusalem (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)


In Jewish law a person’s agent is regarded as the person himself. It is therefor immoral to act as agents, and the responsibility for any wrongdoing lies in the agent as much as in his sender.

The same religious Zionist public that was disgusted with Ben-Gvir at first, later excused his behavior and rhetoric in service of a technical alliance, and had within mere months allowed him to overtake it, using his media saviness and personal charisma.

Ben-Gvir admired Baruch Goldstein – the mass murderer who shot dozens of Muslim worshipers to death at the Cave of the Patriarchs in 1995 – so much so that Goldstein’s photo adorned Ben-Gvir’s living room wall, until it became politicly inconvenient.

According to testimony of Yigal Amir, who assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, Ben-Gvir himself had plotted to kill the Israeli leader after the signing of the Oslo Accords. He was always the first to appear at scenes of various terror attacks, inciting violence and riots.

ברוך גולדשטיין
Baruch Goldstein (Photo: PR)


This is now the face of the religious Zionist movement, and it has made the party that had assumed that name the third in size in the new Knesset following the latest national ballot.

Some tried to claim that Ben-Gvir rose on the wings of dropout youth, the periphery of our society and the extreme minority, but he was embraced by the spiritual and political leadership of religious Zionists. Rabbi Haim Drukman and the Religious Zionist Party Co-chair Bezalel Smotrich tried to present him as a bitter pill to swallow at the worst and a victim of misconceptions at the best.

I do not believe democracy is now lost and Israel’s future is sealed.
But, I do feel pain, and my pain is felt around the muscle we all once valued, called morality.

As reported by Ynetnews