Monday night, approximately 50 supporters of Yisrael Beiteinu, the right-wing political party headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, demonstrated in Jerusalem outside an exhibition at the Hansen House that featured a video by dancer/choreographer Arkadi Zaides. The fury of the demonstrators was directed at B’Tselem, the Israeli organization that documents human rights abuses in the occupied territories. Zaides’ video included footage from a B’Tselem project titled “Armed with Cameras.”
The demonstration was organized by Mothers of Soldiers Against B’Tselem, a group whose mission is “working with legal tools to weaken human rights organizations,” according to the group’s Facebook page.
Tensions were extremely high as an Israeli soldier and a settler had been stabbed to death that day in separate incidents. At the demonstration, at least one person was physically assaulted. “Somebody hit me over the head with a flag pole. They called us Nazis and said ‘May you burn in the gas chambers,’” Zafira Stern said. Three protesters were arrested after they cut the electricity.
Over a speaker, one man threatened Nir Barkat, the right-wing mayor of Jerusalem, for allowing the event to take place. “Nir Barkat, remember the best of your people in Jerusalem that have fought and are fighting for the city — and this is just the beginning. All of this will be in spite of you and we will settle the score with you one of these days,” he yelled.
The same man urged rioters to attack a woman who was attempting to enter the premise of the Hansen House. “Listen up, don’t be trannies! One of the organizers for B’TSelem is standing over there. Don’t let her go inside at any cost,” he shouted.
A few rioters entered the event and threatened attendees. Guy Butavia, who works with the non-governmental organization Tayush, was hounded with threats which he discreetly filmed and uploaded in a series of Youtube videos. They have been translated into English below.
“They [Nazis] peeled their [your fathers’] skins off and made soap out of them! We will make soap out of you! The Arabs will make soap out of you!”
“May your son be killed by Arabs. The Jews will dominate here — get out of here, seed of Amalek.”
“Son of King David… What the prophet Samuel did to you, the day will come… David the king of Israel is alive… We’ll slaughter all the Nazis. Every woman that fucked with Nazis and her kid came out Nazi, Kapo, Kapo, it time to call the child by its name. This is what a Kapo looks like. Ey, like this? They tried to hide themselves, look them in the eyes… Look hard at their eyes, Germans, you see? This isn’t a place of Jews, look, Germans, you see the German on him? Look at that one, German, you see? Totally German, that’s actually Hitler’s grandson, look at him, like two peas in a pod, the same moustache, too. Carries himself the same way, yes, look… And I salute Hitler, did a fine job, granted he didn’t finish the job properly, but hey, that bit with the train was bitchin’. The day will come and we’ll adopt it!”
Settler leader and member of Knesset Aryeh King attended and was reportedly inside the event.
Outside, demonstrators chanted “B’Tselem is Hamas” and “Kahane lives” between speeches by various figures.
Moshe Leon, who ran for Jerusalem mayor and lost against Nir Barkat spoke. “We came here to say ‘stop the incitement against the Israel Defense Forces.’ In the past few days the municipality is trying to deny their part in the event,” he said. “For Jerusalem, we will not be silent and for Zion, we will not fail.”
Revital Moshiach, the founder of Mothers of Soldiers Against B’Tselem spoke at length.
Identifying herself as an “anonymous woman who loves the State with every bone in her body,” she railed against the Nir Barkat and Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat.
“I accuse Nir Barkat that he chose to turn a blind eye to the fact that this is an organization that creates films and exhibitions all across Europe which sparked a wave of anti-Semitism the like of which have not been seen since the last century. I accuse Limor Livnat, the Minister of Culture, that she refuses to stop the funding to the B’Tselem exhibition, together with the artist Arkadi Zaitz that defames and slanders the IDF and the State of Israel. I accuse Limor Livnat, the Minister of Culture, that she chose the easy way to hide behind bureaucracy instead of taking a moral and right decision to cancel the funding of artists who defame the soldiers of the IDF and the State of Israel. I accuse Limor Livnat because she fell asleep while guarding our home.”
Yet according to a statement by B’Tselem, the event took place despite the efforts of members of the Jerusalem municipality to prevent it.
Moshiach then used language commonly associated with the Holocaust to portray Israeli soldiers as helpless victims.
“Along with me here today are 176,000 IDF soldiers who are prohibited from taking part in protest actions. The soldiers are our sons. The soldiers did not decide to go into the horrors. They were sent by us and they meet the horrors every day. The horrors of the showers of stones and the molotov cocktails and recently also live ammunition — like sheep to the slaughter,” Moshiach said.
Despite just 50 demonstrators, the endorsement of the protest by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman — a possible future prime minister — reflects the rising fascism in Israeli society.
It is these sentiments that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reflecting when earlier on Monday, he made a statement telling Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who demonstrate against the State of Israel to “move to the Palestinian Authority or Gaza.” This language — “Go to Gaza” and “Leftists to Gaza” — is commonly heard at right-wing Israeli demonstrations. Indeed, Netanyahu is considering expelling Palestinian Jerusalemites to the Gaza Strip. As Netanyahu increases his war on Palestinians throughout Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank, the hard-right continues to push for heavier violence and to strip away any remaining veneers of democracy in Israel.