What racist laws did MK Ben Gvir propose in the 24th Knesset?
Convicted in 2007 of incitement to racism and supporting a terrorist organization (Kach), it is legitimate to see MK Itamar Ben Gvir as a racist or at least it was once legitimate. He was found guilty on the basis of having held signs that read: “Expel the Arab enemy” and “Rabbi Kahane was right: The Arab MKs are a fifth column.” He was 31 years old then, not a youth. He claims that now, at the age of 46, he has changed. He is not against Arabs, he declares, but against terrorists and those who do not accept Israel as the Jewish state. There are those who do not believe he has really changed.
Ben Gvir has recently loudly risen to prominence and, to the chagrin of many, will potentially hold an important ministry in the coalition that Bibi Netanyahu will likely establish. Believing him to be a racist and perhaps even willing to incite violence, his popularity among a sector of the population is feared by many In fact, there has been a rumour that Israel will suffer serious international diplomatic consequences should he become a member of the government.
Only in the Knesset since April 2021, as a member of the opposition under the Bennett-Lapid coalition, he has had little chance to show the electorate how he will handle himself in a position of national responsibility. Will he continue as a firebrand, or will he settle into the serious work that will be required of him?
Naturally, as such a new MK, he has not had much time to engage in parliamentary activity. This activity includes proposing bills — amendments to current laws more often than suggesting totally novel legislation — and participating in Knesset committees. With less than two years as an MK, most of which appears to have been spent at demonstrations or at his makeshift office in Sheikh Jarrah protesting the Arab refusal to accept the court decision to vacate property owned by Jews, or at least to pay them rent, did he have enough time to do anything parliamentary? And if so, what was the nature of such activity?
Being a legislator certainly could not have been more exciting or newsworthy than pulling a gun on Arab guards at a parking lot in Jerusalem or getting into a fist-fight with MK Ayman Odeh at Kaplan Hospital where the hunger striking Palestinian terrorist was being treated.
Thus we may ask: what laws did Ben Gvir initiate in his short time in the Knesset? Surely any laws he initiated would be viewed as problematic for those who would not countenance any whiff of racism or anti-Palestinianism.
I decided to take a look at the Knesset website and search for the laws that have his name on them as initiator. I included all laws he raised regardless of how far they got toward being added to the legal statutes.
You can decide for yourselves what kinds of laws these are.
As sole initiator
- Law of Return — suggests the addition of the words “according to Halacha” to define the kind of conversion that would be acceptable for someone to be regarded as a Jew for the purposes of immigrating to Israel. He explains that the Knesset has, for many years, avoided dealing with defining the kind of conversion that makes one eligible under the Law of Return
- Cars Provided to Officials — puts into law the requirement that tenders must be held before selecting the cars to be provided to elected officials
- Judge Selection — changes that reflect the value that elected representatives of the people (MKs) should be those who comprise the majority of committee members selecting new judges; the prospective judges will have a hearing before the Knesset and current judges will be on the selection committee and advise MKs as opposed to the situation today whereby MKs advise the judges who make the final decision.
- Social Media Law — to apply the same rules to social media firms operating in Israel as are applied to other kinds of public service providers — this will give recourse to Israeli individuals or businesses who are discriminated against in various ways
Ben Gvir listed as first of a number of co-initiators
- Discount on Public Transportation for the Disabled — with three Likud MKs
- Death Penalty for Terrorists, defines the conditions under which the death penalty can be applied to terrorists — with May Golan (Likud)
- Requirement to have Epinephrine on hand, in order to save lives of those with food allergies, epinephrine needles must be held by all public places serving food — with Orit Strook (RZ), two Shas and five Likud MKS
- Senior Citizens’ Allowance will not be deducted from the amount of compensation they get for having been victims of the Nazis — with Betzalel Smotrich (RZ) and three Likud MKs
- Reduced electric bill for parents raising children with disabilities – with three Likud MKs
- Children needing protection will not be kept at home because of budgetary restraints, the budget must be provided for children who need out-of-home placement — with Betzalel Smotrich and three Likud MKs
- Hebron Massacre Memorial Day — with Orit Strook and six Likud, four Shas, and two UTJ MKs
- Reduced electric bill for elderly disabled — with Betzalel Smotrich and three Likud MKs
- Obligation to build a hospital in Dimona — with Betzalel Smotrich
- Prohibition against Neo-Nazis from entering Israel — with two other RZ MKs, one Likud and one UTJ
- Automatic immunity from prosecution for soldiers on duty, and only while they are on duty; it includes criteria for removing immunity (committee will investigate) if it appears that the soldier acted improperly — with five other RZ MKs and six Likud, five Shas and one UTJ
- Delete paragraphs prohibiting parties or individuals from running in elections if they promote terrorism against the state, and more, since the Supreme Court voids the elections committee’s decisions on this, there is no more point to having these paragraphs in the Basic Law-The Knesset — with May Golan (Likud)
- Educators who support terrorism will be fired and no pro-terror propaganda allowed in the schools — with one Likud and two Shas MKs
- Automatic Immunity for MKs serving in the government, in other words, a reinstatement of this law that was deleted in 2005, it harms the functioning of the government — with three Likud, four Shas and two UTJ MKs
- Expand the definition of racism, currently the law prohibits incitement to racism based on skin colour and nationality (i.e., Arab/Palestinian) and this amendment seeks to also define racism based upon religious sector (eg., Haredi) and ethnicity (eg., Mizrachi) – with two other RZ MKs, five Likud MKs, three UTJ, and five Shas MKs
If you want to see any of these laws, I can send you the complete text (Hebrew).