‘Death to Arabs’ defamation: Ben-Gvir sues ex-minister for podcast remarks

Ben-Gvir and his Otzma Yehudit party sue former left-wing politician who said they promote violence against Arabs.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and his Otzma Yehudit party filed a defamation lawsuit against left-wing former politician and one-time defense minister Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon, seeking 200,000 shekels ($53,000) in damages.

The lawsuit focuses on remarks Ya’alon made on the Haaretz podcast against the right-wing lawmaker, in which he claimed that Ben-Gvir promotes an extremist agenda and insinuated that he has an army of thugs supporting him.

“I see the ‘Death to Arabs’ slogans of Itamar Ben-Gvir, and the group that follows him,” Ya’alon said during the podcast.

In a media statement shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Ben-Gvir’s attorney, Yishai Gifman, said that Ya’alon’s words constitute defamation.

His statements were made “with the intention of harming the plaintiff,” Gifman said. “The remarks imply that [Ben-Gvir] supports the idea of ‘death to Arabs’ and that he has actually supported these chants, and that he has a ‘gang’ of followers [promoting this phrase], and that’s based on a lie.”

Gifman acknowledged that Ben-Gvir has taken a hard line against Arab terrorism and crime in Israel’s Arab sector, but stressed that the minister does not believe in discrimination towards the entire community.

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It must “be made clear that [Ben-Gvir] repeatedly emphasizes at every opportunity that he does not include all Arabs, and that he advocates the death penalty for terrorists as opposed to all Arabs,” Gifman added.

Ben-Gvir and the Otzma Yehudit party “were directly harmed by the defendant’s advertisements, which aimed to harm the plaintiffs, blacken their names and bias public opinion against them. [Ya’alon] did this in a systematic way, with thought and intent to [do damage.]”

“If the failed former MK Ya’alon thinks that the immunity granted to him by the Knesset is eternal, he is bitterly mistaken,” Ben-Gvir said in a media statement.

“Ya’alon’s collection of lies and defamations will have a price. The days are over when the extreme left tells lies about the right-wing elected officials and they remain silent. We will meet in court.”