OPINIONS

Mon 26 Feb 2024 4:13 pm - Jerusalem Time

Hebrew Newspaper: We are on the road to "Ben Gvir State"

By Sima Kadmon

What we saw on Saturday evening in the streets of Tel Aviv is only the beginning. Over time, it will look more natural. Like everything else that is difficult in the country, we will manage to get used to it, and this will also happen to police violence.

The police have been acting violently for a long time. For many years, this violence is mainly directed at vulnerable groups in society, such as Arabs, Haredim, and even Jews of Ethiopian origin, and sometimes, at people with special needs in wheelchairs. Does anyone appoint violent people to the police? Otherwise, how can we explain what was done by the policeman who, from the back of his horse, aimed a blow with the reins at the head of an elderly person, or how can we explain the injury of a woman because of the horse, while she was blocking the road, or the injury of many people because they only demonstrated and were taken to hospitals, after they were hit in the eyes with water cannons.

Even family members of the hostages who arrived at Kaplan Square, raising torches, were hit by water cannons. According to a demonstrator in Kaplan, things looked “like the dark regimes we see in the movies, and we are afraid that there are police who act like this.” She added, "The horses swerve from the road to scare elderly women who do not threaten anyone. 20 policemen surrounded 5 people, including an elderly former military man, and blocked the road. Everything that happened was violent and offensive. Women fell on the edge of the road, for fear of being trampled by the horses. In an instant, I felt like I had gone from being an ordinary citizen to being in a position where I had to submit to the system. It was an unjustified display of force and violence."

Police violence seems to be widespread throughout the world. The "Black Lives Matter" movement in America has reflected this matter remarkably, and in other countries, we can see the police's tendency to practice violence and sadism. But only in Israel, and especially during the Ben Gvir period, the police are not punished, and sometimes an investigation is not even opened. On the contrary, they are promised a promotion. Or as Ben Gvir said: “If they write about you in Haaretz, come and let us talk about a promotion for you.”

It must be clearly stated that the police were violent before Ben Gvir was appointed to the position. This position changed, from the position of Minister of Police to Minister of Homeland Security, all the way to Minister of National Security, but he is still Minister of Police. The agency, which calls itself the “Police Investigations Department,” is composed mainly of police personnel, and considers its primary function to be to cover up police work that borders on criminal violations. The Public Prosecution Office, which has been suffering since handling the Netanyahu case, is far from addressing the problem.

Since the formation of the current government, and under the auspices of the active minister, the rate of violence has increased, and the groups targeted by this violence have expanded. Opponents of the regime have become a legitimate target for violence that knows no bounds. Anti-government demonstrators - from senior officers in the Army Reserve, to the elderly and young women, to high school students, parents of Hamas hostages, bereaved families, and anyone passing by on the road by chance - are all legitimate targets of the police. Even someone who publishes a post against the regime on social media is summoned for investigation at the nearest police station.

Currently, the majority of detainees who are easily arrested and brought to court are released without restrictions. But it is a matter of time until the Minister of Justice succeeds in including judges in the circle of evil. This will also be the beginning.

In the coming weeks, protests will escalate. The reserve soldiers will return to their homes and take to the roads. The hesitation of the protest leaders about going out to the streets, and if the time has come - will be resolved. The continuation of the war, and the current authority’s refusal to agree on the date of the elections - will increase anger. As the roads fill with demonstrators and demand elections - the demands of the Minister of Police for increased force and increased violence will increase.

Groups of armed thugs, wearing clothes that say “alert lines,” are spreading in some towns. So far, they mainly annoy the Arabs, but it is only a matter of time before they start confronting anyone who seems left-wing to them.

All of this is happening while the war in Gaza continues, the escalation in the north continues, the West Bank is on fire, and in the center of the country, the police are attacking demonstrators. Is there a more accurate description of a country we didn't want to look like?

We expected to hear from the Prime Minister criticism of what the police are doing. For example, to rebuke those who have lost control of themselves, clearly. But did we really expect that? How can we have expectations from someone who refrained from directing any criticism of the extremist parties in his government, verbally or practically, due to fear of losing his coalition, which consists of 64 seats? How can we have expectations from a person, everything he does is political, and he is motivated only by personal interest in survival. Among those who gave up his seat, once to Yariv Levin, and once to Itamar Ben Gvir. Let the state burn.

And really, this is just the beginning. After a while, they will start knocking on the doors of everyone who put a “like” on any post on Facebook or Twitter, enter his house, and arrest him after searching his closet.

Soon, they will arrest journalists who oppose them and invite them to investigate the basements.

Soon, too, they will close museums and theaters that are not in line with Ben Gvir's state. Does anyone doubt that this is what we are, or that we will become Ben Gvir's state? Or at least, are we on our way there?

For anyone who seems surprised, the answer is yes. We're on the way there.

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Hebrew Newspaper: We are on the road to "Ben Gvir State"

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