We always hear that the Netanyahu government is beholden to rightwing settlers. Here is another proof: a rightwing Facebook campaign funded by an Australian Zionist and targeting far-right cabinet ministers stopped the Netanyahu government in its tracks last month on a plan for East Jerusalem.
The story was told by Aryeh King, a far-right Jerusalem settler and politician, who spoke in New York on Tuesday night to a gathering of the pro-settler group Americans for a Safe Israel. King bragged of his project of expanding Jewish neighborhoods in Palestinian areas of the city because the bible says Jerusalem belongs to Jews. “We want maximum Jews to own maximum land,” he said; but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was trying to put up walls that would block Jewish expansion.
King illustrated his point with an anecdote.
Six weeks ago, during the wave of stabbing attacks, King was at a city council meeting when Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat showed a plan to put up a concrete wall to cut off four Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem from a Jewish settlement. In fact, our own Allison Deger reported this plan and photographed the beginning of the wall below, aimed at separating Jabel Mukaber, a Palestinian neighborhood, from Armon Hanetziv, an illegal settlement built on Jabel Mukaber’s land.
It was a decision of the government without elections, without nothing– just an order to put a wall between Armon Hanetziv, a 30,000 people neighborhood in Jerusalem– people don’t consider it even as East Jerusalem. And next to it is Jabel Mukaber…
And Bibi gave the order. I was sitting in the municipality, I am a city council member, and I was in the middle of a security meeting about what is happening in Jerusalem. The mayor was saying, We are going to put a wall. He had a picture. He put the line of where the wall was going to be. I was shocked. I said nothing. But immediately I started sending SMS to check to see if it was real. And I got approval [confirmation] from Naftali Bennett adviser, that this is correct. It was Sunday, the government decided they were going to put a wall. Nobody talked, nobody asked, they were just going to put it. De facto.
So what I did? What happened was, I called a guy– I went to a guy, he was at the Waldorf Astoria, a wealthy Jew that thinks about Jerusalem like I think. I told him, look what’s going to happen. I [showed him] a picture of Barkat going to put a new wall. He told me “Aryeh, you have now half a million shekels [about $125,000], do a campaign on Facebook. Do whatever you want, stop it.”
We didn’t spend half a million, we spent just 150,000 shekels [$38,000]. In 2 1/2 hours– it was 6:30, at almost 9 o’clock, the government stopped. [Applause from King’s audience] What we do? We took people and we attacked– not me, it was a campaign on Facebook, on four Facebook pages– all the right wingers [in the Netanyahu government]: Bennett [minister of education], Uri Ariel [minister of agriculture], Ze’ev Elkin, minister of Jerusalem, and Ayelet Shaked [justice minister]. All the attack was against the right wing: How can they be in the government when this wall was going?
And it was in the news, 7, 8– a quarter to 9 more or less the prime minister office declared they were stopping. ‘It was misunderstand. They didn’t meant it!’ They already put up six blocks of the wall!
It is evident that the wealthy Jew King referred to was the Australian high-tech mogul and Zionist Ken Bermeister; King explained that the man who funded the Facebook campaign was also behind Jerusalem 5800, a plan King came up with to grow Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem over the next 24 years so as to lower Arab population ratio. Bermeister has written proudly that he started the 5800 initiative with King. And Bermeister and King played a central role in building Nof Zion, another illegal Israeli settlement also on Jabel Mukaber’s land.