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Israel’s Transportation Minister works for God

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“I work for God”, said the newly appointed Israeli Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich upon his appointment last week. 

Smotrich made it clear that he does not work for Netnayahu as such, but for God, and for the “people of Israel,” codified Hebrew language for “Jews”:

I am not the prime minister’s man, I am a man of the people, I am a man of the public who sent me, and — I hope I’m not starting an outrage here — I work for God and do what I believe is good for the State of Israel and the people of Israel, according to my worldview.

Smotrich is co-leader of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, the merger which got the Kahanist Jewish Power party elected in April. Subsequently, Netanyahu’s failure to assemble a governing coalition led to a vote to dissolve the Knesset in late May, and new elections are set for September 17th.

In the meanwhile, Netanyahu has been firing ministers and appointing new ones. When Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was fired early this month, Smotrich, 39, threw his hat in the ring. His pitch was that Israel should “operate according to the Torah”, as he said in a radio interview:

The State of Israel, the country of the Jewish people, with God willing, will go back to operating as it did in the days of King David and King Solomon… I want the State of Israel to operate according to the Torah in the long run. That’s how it should be, it’s a Jewish state.

It was widely thought that those statements were enough to lose Smotrich the opportunity of becoming Justice Minister, something he’d been vying for in the elections. Since the failure to create a government was largely due to a spat between Netanayhu and Avigdor Lieberman concerning draft of ultra-orthodox Jews– Lieberman is an avowed secularist, demanding tougher draft measures– such biblical advocacies would only have added petrol to the fire.

Bezalel Smotrich, from his twitter feed.

So Netanyahu appointed Likud’s Amir Ohana for Justice Minister. Ohana is a loyalist, one of the only senior members of Likud to have publicly backed Netanyahu’s drive to secure immunity from prosecution in the corruption cases against him, so his placing is strategic.

But Smotrich had to get a ministerial spot, at least for the while until a new government is formed. Thus he got the Transportation Ministry, replacing Israel Katz, who had been named the Foreign Minister before the election.

Smotrich’s partner in leading the URWP is Rafi Peretz, who got the Education Ministry instead of Naftali Bennett who was fired simultaneously with Ayelet Shaked. Peretz was vying for this ministry anyway. Peretz appears to be a slightly cooler character than Smotrich, but let that not deceive you. He is a major supporter of the Yeshiva and religious military prep-school in the illegal settlement of Eli, where the rabbis were secretly caught on tape praising Hitler. When a leading rabbi there, Yigal Levinstein, called gays “perverts” in 2016, Peretz was a supporter. As Smotrich did the next year when Levinstein said that female soldiers were not Jewish and that the army has “driven our girls crazy.” Smotrich fought for his right to free speech. Defense Minister Lieberman condemned the remarks, suggesting the resignation of the rabbi, and Smotrich responded: “There is no chance that he can carry out his threat. Enough of this silencing.”

Smotrich is himself openly homophobic, and has also supported segregation between Jewish and Palestinian citizens in maternity wards. Back in 2016, when the practice was widely exposed, he tweeted:

It is natural that my wife would not want to lay down next to someone who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby in another 20 years. 

In 2017, Smotrich announced his “Decision Plan”, laying out a way for Israel to annex Palestinian territory, officially so, and to coerce the population to either live under apartheid, explicitly relinquishing “national aspirations”, or be expelled.

Of course this is not very different from Danny Danon, Israel’s UN Ambassador, in his recent piece in the New York Times, calling upon Palestinians to “surrender” and commit “national suicide”. Smotrich is perhaps a touch more explicit, but let’s not fight over these shades of gray.

Smotrich may not be Justice Minister, yet. But he is now a cabinet minister, and his power is growing. He is a relatively young politician, who seems to have a sense for survival, and a huge ambition. He is of the religious-nationalist generation which is replacing the old guard. And yes, he works for God.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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12 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on June 29, 2019, 12:39 pm

    RE: “Bezalel Smotrich with Nikki Haley and her husband Mike in Jerusalem, June 27, 2019.” ~ photo caption

    MY COMMENT: I’m not surprised to see Nikki Haley yukking it up with an Israeli neofascist like Bezalel Smotrich.

    P.S. I guess the Haleys were part of Bolton’s entourage.

  2. Mooser on June 29, 2019, 2:00 pm

    ” I want the State of Israel to operate according to the Torah in the long run. That’s how it should be, it’s a Jewish state.”

    He should try reading it through to the end.

  3. RoHa on June 29, 2019, 10:00 pm

    “I work for God.”

    I presume God pays him. I’d like to see one of his pay cheques.

    • lonely rico on July 1, 2019, 9:31 am

      … I’d like to see one of his pay cheques.

      No cheques, He does direct deposits in Smotrich’s account.

      The worst of it is, He jiggers the system, doesn’t even have an account.
      The bank manager doesn’t call Him out on the fraud,
      fear of the bolt of lightning I guess.

  4. Ellen on June 30, 2019, 2:56 am

    Isn’t the whole modern Israel thing built on stories from the Bible?

  5. lonely rico on June 30, 2019, 9:40 am

    … the country of the Jewish people, with God willing, will go back to operating as it did in the days of King David and King Solomon

    The God of the OT now back to lead and inspire the Zionist project –

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

    Richard Dawkins

  6. Misterioso on June 30, 2019, 6:24 pm

    “…the country of the Jewish people, with God willing, will go back to operating as it did in the days of King David and King Solomon.”

    The Jebusite/Canaanites were ancestors of today’s Palestinians and it was they who founded Jerusalem around 3000 BCE. Originally known as Jebus, the first recorded reference to it as “Rushalimum” or “Urussalim,” site of the sacred Foundation Rock, appears in Egyptian Execration Texts of the nineteenth century BCE, nearly 800 years before it is alleged King David was born. Its name “seems to have incorporated the name of the Syrian god Shalem [the Canaanite God of Dusk], who was identified with the setting sun or the evening star…and] can probably be translated as ‘Shalem has founded’.” (Karen Armstrong, Jerusalem, One City, Three Faiths; Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1996, pp. 6-7)

    No credible archaeological evidence, or more importantly, writings of contemporaneous civilizations, have been found that prove Solomon or David actually existed. (Nor has any real evidence been discovered to confirm that the Jewish exodus from Egypt ever occurred.)

    Renowned Jewish Israeli writer/columnist, and former member of the Knesset, Uri Avnery: “[David and Solomon’s] existence is disproved, inter alia, by their total absence from the voluminous correspondence of Egyptian rulers and spies in the Land of Canaan.” (“A Curious National Home,” by Uri Avnery, May 13/17

    To again quote Uri Avnery, “… most Israeli archaeologists have always been the loyal foot-soldiers of the official propaganda. Since the emergence of modern Zionism, they have been engaged in a desperate endeavor to ‘find’ archaeological evidence for the historical truth of the stories of the Old Testament. Until now, they have gone empty-handed: there exists no archaeological proof for the exodus from Egypt, the conquest of Canaan and the kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon. But in their eagerness to prove the improvable (because in the opinion of the vast majority of archaeologists and historians outside Israel – and also some in Israel – the Old Testament stories are but sacred myths), the archaeologists have destroyed many strata of other periods.” (Uri Avnery, “Three Provocations: The Method in the Madness,” CounterPunch,Febrary13/2007

    Eminent archaeologist, Mortimer Wheeler: “More sins have probably been committed in the name of archaeology [in Palestine/Israel] than on any commensurate portion of the earth’s surface….”(Mortimer Wheeler, Archaeology from the Earth, Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1956, p. 228 )

  7. RoHa on June 30, 2019, 7:18 pm

    On the Torah:

    “Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”

    “There are matters in that book, said to be done by the express command of God, that are as shocking to humanity, and to every idea we have of moral justice, as any thing done by Robespierre, by Carrier, by Joseph le Bon, in France, by the English government in the East Indies, or by any other assassin in modern times. When we read in the books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, etc., that they (the Israelites) came by stealth upon whole nations of people, who, as the history itself shews, had given them no offence; that they put all those nations to the sword; that they spared neither age nor infancy; that they utterly destroyed men, women and children; that they left not a soul to breathe; expressions that are repeated over and over again in those books, and that too with exulting ferocity; are we sure these things are facts? are we sure that the Creator of man commissioned those things to be done? Are we sure that the books that tell us so were written by his authority?

    …The Bible tells us, that those assassinations were done by the express command of God. And to read the Bible without horror, we must undo every thing that is tender, sympathising, and benevolent in the heart of man. Speaking for myself, if I had no other evidence that the Bible is fabulous, than the sacrifice I must make to believe it to be true, that alone would be sufficient to determine my choice.”

    “It is from the Bible that man has learned cruelty, rapine, and murder; for the belief of a cruel God makes a cruel man.”
    ― Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

    And I cannot help thinking that old Tom had a point.

  8. Marnie on June 30, 2019, 11:07 pm

    With so many murderers, conquerors, destroyers claiming they do god’s work, maybe god should consider using another employment agency to hire people to do his work? People need to stop pretending that the atrocious acts they commit are the works of anyone other than their lowly selves and stop attempting to elevate them by continually insisting it’s not their doing, it’s god.

  9. Kay24 on July 1, 2019, 2:13 pm

    Did God appoint him for the job? I thought they were all God’s chosen.

    Perhaps he should become a Rabbi.

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