Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew language news service spoke on Sunday with activist Itamar Ben Gvir, one of the organizers of last Thursday’s incident in which Justice Minister Ya’akov Ne’eman was verbally assaulted by nationalists, as he participated in prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron.
The verbal assaults came from activists at the Cave who were angry at Ne’eman for not preventing the recent arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior.
“You should be ashamed of yourself, disgracing the Torah and offending rabbis,” they said.
The interview with Ben Gvir came after much public criticism was voiced in the media and elsewhere over the incident, including in an online survey by Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website, which found that most people did not find the incident appropriate.
Ben Gvir, while admitting that a protest against a government minister in the Cave of the Patriarchs is not ideal, emphasized that Minister Ne'eman was not attacked.
“We did not attack him, physically or verbally,” said Ben Gvir. “At the most he received a talk about morality from Noam Federman and I, but we addressed him as ‘honorable minister’ all along.”
Ben Gvir added, however, that since his appointment as Justice Minister numerous letters were sent to Ne’eman showing the double standard driven by Deputy State Attorney Shai Nitzan towards the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. He noted that Ne’eman has not responded to the letters.
In the interview, Ben Gvir reminded of incidents of teenage girls who were arrested while demonstrating while in other cases, university students protested but no investigation was opened against them. He also reminded of the differences in the way the State Attorney’s Office treats right-wing activists who demonstrate in front of homes of public figures and the way it treats similar protests from the left side of the map.
“He’s not taking us seriously,” said Ben Gvir of the response which has not yet been received from Ne’eman. He mentioned a common claim being made, that Ne’eman cannot control Nitzan’s actions, but said he does not accept a reality in which the Justice Minister who heads the system cannot control his own people. “The climax [of the actions Ne’eman allowed to take place] was hurting one of the greatest rabbis of our generation, Rabbi Lior,” he said.
Ben Gvir noted that he has received favorable comments about the incident on the street, nowhere near as critical as those heard in the media.
“We could not condone the honor of Rabbi Lior,” said Ben Gvir. “Look at what they did here, they took a Holocaust survivor, an old man, and humiliated him. It’s all about power, proving that the SAO is above them, teaching us what the law of the State of Israel is and why the prosecution is more important than the Torah. It’s like desecrating G-d and that cannot be ignored.”