Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, number eight on the United Right List, is on a “suing spree” this week. On Wednesday, he filed papers suing Labor MK Stav Shafir for NIS 500,000, after she called him a “Nazi” – and on Thursday, he threatened to sue Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, who said that he might be a Shin Bet agent.
About that latter accusation, Ben-Gvir said that the Yisrael Beytenu head was “getting desperate. I feel bad for Liberman – he is trying to sell the public on his ‘fake-tough’ persona, but he was the worst defense minister in the history of the state.”
Ben-Gvir made those comments in response to Liberman’s interview on Reshet Bet Thursday. Liberman said that “I am not at all sure that Ben-Gvir is who he presents himself to be, or a type of ‘Champagne’ agent. I have doubts about his type.” The reference to “Champagne” is to Avishai Raviv, the undercover Shin Bet “handler” who surreptitiously worked with Yigal Amir. Many on the right believe that Raviv was instrumental in pushing Amir too far, eventually goading him into killing Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
Ben-Gvir said that there was no truth to the accusation, which has also been made in the past. Ben-Gvir sued that time, too, and won, he said. “If I am a Shin Bet agent, Liberman is a KGB agent. If there is anyone who fights the Shin Bet about how they treat the hilltop youth, it is Ben-Gvir, while Liberman supported what the Shin Bet did. If he does not apologize within 48 hours I am going to sue him for libel on Sunday. The last person who made statements like that fled the country rather than pay the settlement ordered by the court.”
Also set to find herself in court is Shafir, to whom Ben-Gvir tried to present a summons to a libel suit on Wednesday during a stormy meeting of the Knesset Elections Committee, which was discussing banning Ben-Gvir’s running mate in Otzma Yehudit, Michael Ben-Ari. Shafir refused to accept the documents, but Ben-Gvir said the suit would go on anyway. “This is a person who runs around calling me a Nazi all over the country. We will not allow leftists to compare Jews to Nazis, who tried to destroy our people. MKs who do this should know that their Knesset immunity will not protect them, and they will have to take responsibility for their disgusting comments.”
In response, Shafir said that “the followers of Meir Kahane like attorney Ben-Gvir use threats to get what they want, but this time they will not succeed. They will no longer threaten me, or any other Israeli.” Also named in the lawsuit is Labor MK Michal Biran, who said that “I feel honored that Ben-Gvir considers me enough of a threat to his Kahanistic activities that he would sue me. Besides the evidence against them, the Kahanists are the last ones who can complain of incitement against them, when all they do is defame the 20 percent of the Israeli population who are Arabs.”
Last week, Ben-Gvir called out public figures who had used the term against him and Ben-Ari. In a sermon to his congregation in Yerushalayim, Rabbi Benny Lau, a prominent Religious Zionist Rabbi, called Ben-Gvir and Ben-Ari “Nazis,” accusing them of driving voters away from the religious right. In a statement, Ben-Gvir named him, as well as others, including Shelly Yechimovich of Labor, Meretz MKs Tamar Zandberg and Zehava Gal-on, and others as “people who may find themselves in the defendant’s chair in court. They can criticize all they want, but they can’t cross the red lines and libel anyone.”