In the early hours of January 1, 2013, by Bolivian Time, I began a frantic search for an item that had been published roughly at the same time, but by Israeli Time. Due to the distance, I had lost valuable hours.
A website of Likud fans, a related Facebook page, and apparently also the main Israeli online newspapers had published a Likud elections campaign ad that was removed soon afterwards. I could read outraged commentaries, which showed only a low-resolution image that didn’t allow one to see the offensive text.
Images with Hebrew text are seldom well-indexed; thus a thorough web-search left me with nothing. Refusing to surrender, I turned to obscure Hebrew portals.
After wasting valuable time at tapuz.co.il, I reached walla.co.il, where a long article on the issue featured the original ad. It took some effort, but it was justified. Netanyahu had deployed the Holocaust Weapon against one who had turned out to be his main opponent: Naftali Bennet, leader of the Jewish Home party.
Containing the equivalent of weapon-grade plutonium, the ad had not been financed directly by Likud, but by the 96th member on its list to the upcoming elections, Moshe Ifargan. Despite his irrelevant position, he is a veteran and well known Likud member, who didn’t get a better place due to his extremist opinions. The perfect candidate for the event.
Moshe Ifargan The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror, 1940-1949
Ifargan Ad | “The Jewish Ghetto”
The Jewish Ghetto
Mocking Bennet’s party, the ad was titled, “The Jewish Ghetto, led by Naftali Bennet.” Next to the title, Bennet’s picture appears behind barbed-wire; at the center of the title a yellow Star of David patch appears. In other words, Bennet was placed within a Nazi concentration camp.
Likud’s attack was well directed; in recent weeks, Likud has been losing votes to the Jewish Home. The latter may become the second largest party in the next Knesset, and almost for sure, a senior member of Netanyahu’s next coalition. The Jewish Home was founded in 2008, mainly over the hot ashes of the National Religious Party (Mafdal).
A Religious Zionism party, it is a real alternative to secular Zionists and ultra-orthodox Haredi parties. A new reality placed at the center of old, extremist ideologies.
Accordingly, Likud presented the Jewish Home in the ad as part of the past, linking it to the Holocaust. “60 years it took to the ‘kipot srugot’ (handwoven skullcaps, euphemism for Religious Zionists) to break out of the sectorial ghetto that enclosed them within the National Religious Party.
60 years before we finally managed to assimilate within the Israeli society and saved ourselves from the isolated ghetto created by the leaders of the past, who jailed us.
And now, Naftali Bennet wants to put us back in the Old National Religious Party. ‘To the party of the religious.’ We are sorry, Naftali, but we prefer to be part of Israeli society and not to be apart. Handwoven skullcaps influence from inside. Likud has more religious Knesset Members than the Jewish Home.”
The last claim is obvious propaganda; Likud has in the current Knesset 27 members while the Jewish Home only 3 (but it may reach 20 after the elections).
Settler Leaders Support Likud ad The Case for Sanctions Against Israel
The ad was removed after the Jewish Home complained to the police due to the use of the yellow Star of David patch. Likud claims that it was an independent initiative of Ifargan, but subsequent events make this claim questionable. Likud Knesset Member Karmel Shama-Hacohen republished the ad in his Facebook page claiming that it was not his party that published it, adding truly offensive claims against Bennet.
The issue is simple; the ad may not be published as it is, but it is legal for articles and pages to comment on it. Likud published it, retracted it, and now is free to republish it. A brutally legal and utterly illegitimate tactic used by Benjamin Netanyahu. In parallel, Likud published the ad reproduced next to this paragraph, which claims that settler leaders support Likud and not the Jewish Home.
The Israeli Ghetto
After I saw the ad for the first time, I couldn’t decide what would be the best approach for this article. I could comment on the verbal violence of Israelis, or on Israel having become a new ghetto.
Touching the issue of verbal violence without inflicting it is difficult, especially since the translation from Hebrew often demands lengthy comments. I didn’t fully explain the offensiveness of Ifargan’s ad; it is related to his specific ethnic background and to common Hebrew racist insults that cannot be reproduced here. Doing so will give the ADL a legal opportunity to close the website. I won’t play into their hands.
As claimed in Warsaw Ghetto, Israel Ghetto, Israel is nothing more than an isolated island surrounded by a wall of terror; its denizens are kept captive with the help of a physical wall surrounding their country and with a cultural wall in the form of a language that few comprehend. Mr. Ifargan was offensive, but also correct in the wider sense of his claim.
The new Judenrat, better known as the Government of Israel has created the Israel Ghetto, the legal successor of the Warsaw Ghetto. The new ghetto is surrounded by state-of-the-art fences; Moshe Ifargan baptized it the Jewish Ghetto. Were its walls designed to block the entrance, or to stop the escape?
Mr. Tov Roy is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.