‘JEWISH JIHAD’? Ex-Shin Bet heads’ wild incitement must stop – opinion

Former Shin Bet chiefs are demonizing the current government as terrorists and a threat to Israel’s continued existence. Here’s why that’s so dangerous.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

The former head of the storied Shin Bet security agency made incendiary comments against religious Jewish lawmakers at a recent left-wing protest, painting them as a major threat to Israel’s continued existence.

Speaking to anti-government demonstrators gathered at the Pardes Hana-Karkur junction on Saturday evening, Carmi Gilon castigated Israeli politicians who are religiously observant.

“The ultra-Orthodox and Religious Zionist politicians are the Jewish jihad, they are an existential and certain threat to the State of Israel,” Gilon, who once served as Israel’s ambassador to Denmark, was reported by Haaretz as saying.

“Bibi – you have gone your political way with a mark of shame on your forehead, and you will forever be remembered as the prime minister who almost succeeded in bringing about the destruction of Israel,” he added, addressing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The remarks referring to religious politicians as jihadis are particularly notable when coming from Gilon, due to his reputation as one of Israel’s most significant figures in fighting terror.

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But Gilon is not the only former Shin Bet head to equate the current right-wing government with Islamic terrorist groups.

Speaking to a crowd at a March anti-government rally in Tel Aviv, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said that the current coalition “is not a fully right-wing government, it is a fully terrorist government.”

The demonization of the current government, by both Gilon and Diskin, is particularly concerning due to the men’s standing as anti-terror experts who nobly battled serious threats to Israel during their time leading the Shin Bet.

Both men served as a critical line of defense safeguarding the Israeli public from Arab terrorism. Their remarks could be interpreted as suggesting that it would be appropriate to leverage anti-terror techniques to mitigate the “threat” posed by the current government.

Beyond serving as a potential justification for left-wing political violence, the comments serve to further escalate tensions among an already-divided public. That’s not to mention that such blatantly partisan remarks from establishment figures likely do little to restore trust in government institutions, which is at an all-time low among nearly all sectors of the Israeli public.

Following a highly politicized Memorial Day and the 20th consecutive week of anti-government protests, it’s clear that Israeli society is at a breaking point.

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Comments that further the “good guys vs. bad guys” narrative only serve to exacerbate an already untenable situation, and may pave the way for citizens to take the law into their own hands to “save” the country.

With political tensions so high and security agencies warning of internal divisions posing a security threat to the country, respected figures need to avoid fomenting hatred against specific groups within Israeli society.

Gilon and Carmi should know better.