Opposition responsible for the Knesset’s toxic speech, physical threats

Last Wednesday I enjoyed several moments of optimism, as Deputy Moshe Arbel (Shas) presented a motion for the agenda in the Knesset plenum, in which he proposed that a parliamentary inquiry commission be formed to address the problem of the violence against deputies.

My optimism was caused by the fact that he linked the problem of violence against MPs to the toxic speech among MPs in the Knesset, which he said had to be dealt with as well.

I was also encouraged by the fact that Arbel is a member of the Haredi bloc in the Knesset, which is particularly active in toxic verbiage, as part of the opposition’s relentless and explicit refusal to accept the legitimacy and implicitly also the legality of the current government. and the coalition in general, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in particular.

The chairman of that Knesset deliberation, Vice President Eitan Ginzburg (Blue and White), expressed his appreciation for Arbel’s initiative, even though the coalition had decided to oppose the initiative.

As explained by Deputy Minister of Public Security Yoav Segalovitz (Yesh Atid), who responded to the motion on behalf of the government: The police, in cooperation with the Knesset sergeant-at-arms, are in charge of offering protection to threatened MPs. and face the violent ones. incidents against them, and the problem that needs to be addressed is violent and disrespectful speech in the Knesset, which encourages violence, and for which a parliamentary commission of inquiry is not the answer.

SHAS MK Moshe Arbel: We do not need to agree with everything, but we must disagree without hatred. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM / THE JERUSALEM POST)

Unfortunately, my optimism soon turned to despair. Already at the beginning of his speech, Arbel added his valuable contribution to an ugly attack by Shah MPs and non-Ashkenazi MPs from Likud on Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg (who is not a MP under the “ Norwegian Law ”), whom they accused of racism for not supporting the establishment of a hospital in the Arab city of Sakhnin, as proposed by the Joint List of predominantly Arab opposition, and cynically supported by Likud only to embarrass the coalition.

In the heat of the moment, Zandberg responded that the racists are the opposition deputies who refer to the Arab deputies in general and those of the Arab Party coalition, Ra’am, in particular, as supporters of terrorism who want to destroy the state. From Israel.

This superfluous “dialogue” continued, and MP Gadi Yevarkan (Likud) claimed that Zandberg had referred to him personally as racist (I read the minutes of the session several times and found no such reference). Later, when he tried to approach her with his cell phone to show her some “proof” of his “racism”, and she told him to stay away, he claimed that he did so because his skin is black (he is Ethiopian). origin), even though she hadn’t said anything about him personally or his skin color.

What Arbel said to Zandberg at the beginning of her speech (when she started to leave plenary) was “I must say that your conduct of silent racism is ugly behavior,” a statement based on nothing but unsubstantiated accusations made by Yevarkan. and other opposition deputies.

Therefore, Arbel directly added to the inciting references to Zandberg, which could turn into physical attacks on her later, the exact opposite of what he himself defended several minutes later in his speech.

The way in which Arbel presented the problem of violence against MPs in his speech was also quite strange.

First, he referred to coalition chairwoman Idit Silman (Yamina), who has been the target of many personal verbal and physical attacks in recent weeks, and last week claimed that she had been attacked near a gas station in Modi ‘ in when she was (thus claimed) thrown hard against his car.

It was difficult to understand from Arbel’s words whether he was genuinely concerned about what had allegedly happened to Silman (who is still under police investigation), or whether he was making fun of her, in the context of the opposition’s arguments (including the opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu himself) that she had made up the story “to defame an entire public.”

To show a “balanced picture”, Arbel brought up an example of an attack on an opposition MP: Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism), who was attacked a month ago by two men, who tried to cut off his beard.

According to Haredi sources, this strange story has nothing to do with the opposition-coalition relations, but with the internal disputes between the Hasidic courts, to one of which Porush belongs, in relation to the expansion of the light rail on Bar- street. Ilan of Jerusalem. .

THE TRUTH is that in the current situation, there is little or no balance between threats and attacks on coalition ministers and deputies, and threats and attacks on opposition deputies, and within the framework of toxic speech in the Knesset today. , the Jewish opposition (excluding the Joint List) is much more to blame.

It is true that things were a bit different when Netanyahu was still prime minister, and a certain group of protesters near the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street, who demonstrated against him, incited him, and acted shamefully.

If what they said and did ever constituted more than a nuisance to Netanyahu’s well-being, only the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) knows. One thing is certain: the most offensive and objectionable things said during the demonstrations near Balfour Street were never repeated within the Knesset, and if the Knesset deputies had said them, the offending deputies would have been summoned to the Committee on Knesset Ethics.

Today there is no Ethics Committee because the Likud refuses to appoint a member and, in practical terms, without the Likud, the committee cannot be formed.

A change in the behavior of the Jewish opposition in the Knesset will only occur if Netanyahu decides that since the chances of overthrowing the government in the near future are almost non-existent, the opposition should take a more cooperative and constructive approach to the work of the Jews. USA. Knesset, and he instructs his deputies to tone down and moderate the content of what they say.

This, incidentally, would lead the coalition to be more generous in its approach to the opposition, especially in important committees where the opposition is deliberately underrepresented.

However, as long as the opposition, including its leader, continues to delegitimize the government and its boss, and continues to do everything in their power to obstruct their plans, all their plans, not just those they object to on ideological or practical grounds , a The coalition cannot be expected to voluntarily put its head on the guillotine.

Last Saturday, before the 8pm news broadcasts, Likud MPs David Amsalem on Channel 13 and Galit Distal Atbaryan on Channel 12 made it clear that, as far as they are concerned, there will be no change in the Likud’s conduct to date. the government will fall; and that once that happens, today’s opposition will retaliate.

Hopefully, the voices of more moderate Likud members will prevail.

The writer was a researcher at the Knesset Research and Information Center until her retirement and recently published a book in Hebrew, The Job of the Knesset Member – An Undefined Job, which will soon be published in English by Routledge.


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