Yair Lev

Taking a stand for history: Oppose the government of hate

Dear Rabbis, the sermons of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur resonated with profundity and sincerity. They captured the essence of Israel, its joys and its pains. Yet, 50 years after the bloody Yom Kippur war of ’73, a new existential threat looms, perhaps even darker and more perilous than that terrible war. While many of you passionately address Israel’s divides and fervently champion compassion, unity, and forgiveness, we must confront the immediate crisis:  A deceptive, incendiary, indicted prime minister leading a government deeply rooted in racism and hatred.  In his desperate bid to dodge jail, Bibi relentlessly stirs chaos, desperation, hatred and division among the people of Israel.  Today, as I voice my concerns, the Supreme Court is addressing one of Bibi’s sly maneuvers to dodge justice. He’s backing an amendment to Israel’s Basic Law, seemingly crafted to his exact needs, which would allow him to remain as prime minister despite evident unfitness, shielding him from legal accountability and potential imprisonment.

Rabbis, raise your voices and let them echo through the annals of history! In your silence, you inadvertently side with a government drenched in malice and destruction. Each moment of inaction, every paused breath, empowers this regime further. I urge you, Rabbis, to act decisively. Let not history remember you as bystanders. Align yourselves with the courageous who speak out for truth. Gaze inward, setting aside the clamor of politics, donations, and external pressures, focusing solely on the present situation in Israel and its implications for all Jews, including those in the United States.

A few days ago, tensions surrounding Yom Kippur were palpable in Tel Aviv. The city’s residents simply supported the court’s decision against illegal gender segregation. Bibi’s response, however, seemed designed to fan the flames of division. He declared, “It seems that there are no limits, no norms, and no exceptions from hatred for the left-wing extremists.”

Hatred Bibi dares say!

Yet again, his lies are obvious. His blatant manipulations, driving Israelis against one another for sheer political power, are as glaringly evident as daylight through shattered glass. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, even on Yom Kippur, the most sacred day for Jews, dedicated to deep reflection, atonement, and unity, he shamelessly perpetuated division and strife among Israelis.

Hatred Bibi dares say!

Bibi, the orchestrator of the most racist, hateful, and extreme government Israel has ever witnessed. Surrounded by opportunistic zealots who exploit his evident vulnerabilities, they behave with an insatiable greed and exhibit unchecked power-driven frenzy.

Hatred Bibi dares say!

In the past week, an alarming 14 Knesset members, close to 1/8th of the Knesset’s entirety, including those from Netanyahu’s own party, endorsed a petition. They clamored for the release and improved prison conditions for one Amiram Ben-Uliel. MK Son Har Melech, not just a silent endorser, orchestrated a conference championing Ben-Uliel, where she audaciously branded him as “righteous and holy.” This cause, inexplicably, garnered over a million shekels in support for Ben-Uliel. So, who exactly is this Ben-Uliel, the “righteous and holy” man, drawing such unwavering support from significant factions of the coalition and government?

In the tranquility of 2015’s dawn, in the West Bank village of Duma, a sinister figure emerged. Ben-Uliel maliciously set the Dawabsheh family’s residence on fire while they lay unsuspecting in their beds. This fire, ignited by virulent hatred and radicalism, mercilessly stole the lives of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh and his father Saad. The mother, despite battling vehemently, succumbed to her near-total body burns after five excruciating weeks. A sole survivor emerged from this inferno, 4-year-old Ahmed, bearing burns over 60% of his innocent body. The gut-wrenching visual of a burnt toddler crib alongside Ahmed’s disfigured visage stands as a testament to a malevolence that is unbridled and unchecked. Ben-Uliel’s actions were no accident but a cold, calculated endeavor to seed dread and horror in Palestinian families’ hearts.

Despite this chilling history, a staggering amount of support, admiration, and endorsement is heaped upon him by numerous present coalition and government members.

Hatred Bibi dares say!

Bibi, in an alarming move, elevated Ben Gvir to the influential role of senior minister within his government—more astoundingly, as the minister of national security. Ben Gvir- a convicted Jewish Terrorist.  He’s recounted with a disconcerting fondness about his romantic first date with his future wife—a visit to the “hallowed” grave of Baruch Goldstein. Not merely a distant admiration, Ben Gvir took it upon himself to display a large portrait of Goldstein prominently in his living room for all to see.

And who exactly is Baruch Goldstein, the figure revered in the very heart and soul of Ben Gvir?

In February 1994, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Goldstein, an Israeli physician, entered the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, a site revered by both Jews and Muslims. Dressed in his army reserve uniform, he unleashed a hail of bullets on unsuspecting Palestinian worshipers as they were deep in prayer.

Democracy forever!

The cold-blooded massacre left 29 dead and scores injured, their blood soaking the very ground of this ancient site. The haunting screams of the wounded and bereaved, and the raw shock of such a heinous act transformed a place of worship into a nightmarish scene. This is Baruch Goldstein, the icon celebrated by Ben Gvir.

Hatred Bibi dares say!

Bibi, in his desperate bid to assemble a coalition that could shield him from impending imprisonment, appointed Bezalel Smotrich as the Minister of Finance, while also granting him a position in the Defense Ministry. Who, then, is this Smotrich?

Following a heinous murder of 2 Jewish brothers by an individual Palestinian murderer from the area of Huwara, numerous right-wing settlers clamored for vengeance and retaliation. Enter Smotrich, a convicted Jewish Terrorist, known for his blatantly racist and homophobic views, and extreme right-wing affiliations. Rather than defusing the volatile situation, he sent shockwaves with his outrageous statement: “I think that Huwara needs to be erased… I think that the state of Israel needs to do it, but God forbid not individual people”. This is a voice that sits in the Defense Ministry of Israel.

Smotrich’s incendiary remarks found support among other powerful figures, notably from a Knesset Member of the coalition named Sukkot. Echoing Smotrich’s sentiment, Sukkot ominously asserted that “Huwara’s killers’ nest needs to be taken care of.” As if to underscore his commitment to this sentiment, Sukkot posted a photo of himself standing side by side with settlers at the Tapuach junction, signaling their readiness to advance towards the town.

On a chilling night in February 2023, the town of Huwara became the epicenter of a nightmarish assault. In the haunting darkness, hundreds of Israeli settlers, fueled by rage and revenge, launched a relentless attack on the unsuspecting village. Homes were set aflame, many with people still trapped inside, their desperate cries merging with the roaring flames. The sky turned orange, illuminated by the fires that consumed dwellings, businesses, and vehicles. The streets echoed with the agonized screams of the wounded, the deafening blasts of gunfire, and the chilling sound of homes and dreams turning to ash. Israeli soldiers stood by, silent sentinels to a horror unfolding before their eyes. As dawn broke, the once-thriving Huwara was reduced to a haunting landscape of rubble and despair. It was chillingly labeled a “pogrom” by the Israeli military commander for the West Bank. In a tragic turn, Smotrich’s dark prediction materialized, effectively erasing Huwara.

Hatred Bibi dares say!

In the very heart of the ruling Likud party, there lurks a figure whose rhetoric drips with chilling animosity: Itzik Zarka. Embraced and celebrated by the upper ranks of Likud’s leadership, including Bibi Netanyahu himself, Zarka’s words strike a horrific chord in the collective memory of the Jewish people. Not long ago, in a burst of fury, he confronted pro-democracy demonstrators, hurling abuses such as, “Ashkenazim, whores, may you burn in hell”. But it was his following remarks that truly sent shivers down the spine of so many: “I am proud of the six million that were burned, I wish that another six million will be burned,” a grotesque invocation of the Holocaust. “Leftists are traitors, you are the cancer of the country,” he bellowed. Although his membership was momentarily revoked by the Likud party, the Likud internal court astonishingly decided to reinstate him a few days ago. Zarka, boasting of his ties to Bibi, parades photos of himself in close embraces with a majority of the Likud ministers and Knesset members.

Hatred, Bibi dares say!

Dear Rabbis, as we find ourselves amidst these sacred Holy days, it’s a call for introspection. It’s a moment where we must reach deep into our hearts, filtering the noise, to recognize the values that should guide us considering the present turmoil in Israel. There’s an urgency to this reflection. Embrace the inner wisdom and join the growing ranks of US Rabbis who are boldly addressing their congregations, voicing their concerns about a government seemingly on a course toward catastrophe. In a landscape of division and anger, Bibi stands out, orchestrating discord with a precision that is chilling. Bibi, unmistakably crowned the king of hatred, doesn’t merely fan the flames of division. He thrives on incitement, skillfully amplifying deep-seated animosity and distrust.

Now, more than ever, your voice holds power. Israel craves your guidance. The American Jewish community seeks your direction. Let us unite in our endeavor to shape a future illuminated by love, peace, and unity, distancing ourselves from the shadows of division and hate.

In the spirit of solidarity and unwavering commitment to democracy,

Yair Lev

About the Author
Dr. Yair Lev holds dual citizenship in Israel and the US. For the past 15 years he has resided in the US, first in New York City and now in the Philadelphia area. He lives in Lower Merion township with his wife and two children.
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