Rabbi Deri Warns Growing Incitement May Lead to Political Assassination

YERUSHALAYIM -
A huge campaign poster of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Shas leader Rabbi Aryeh Deri during the run-up to the September 2019 elections. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri (Shas) on Sunday called on Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman to increase the protection afforded to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his family, Yisrael Hayom reported. Rabbi Deri said that the growing incitement and threats made against Netanyahu personally “could herald a catastrophe.”

In his letter Rabbi Deri wrote, “As a former member of late Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin’s government, I cannot sit idly by vis-à-vis these alarming incidents of incitement and the calls to physically harm Netanyahu and his family.”

The weeks leading to Rabin’s assassination in 1995 were ridden with protests against the Oslo Accords, with many far-right activists saying the prime minister had to be stopped “by any means possible.”

The current public atmosphere is very troubling, Rabbi Deri wrote, stressing, “We can never again say we didn’t know; that our hands are not stained with blood. … I’m aware of the fact you and the Shin Bet are making great efforts to protect the prime minister and his family, but I will be remiss in my public duty if I do not warn of what may come and do everything to ensure we spare no effort to prevent such a catastrophe.”

Freedom of protest and expression “are fundamental principles of democracy and we must preserve them,” the interior minister continued. “Leveling scathing criticism is legitimate, but incitement to violence against the prime minister and his family cross a red line.”

Netanyahu has filed several police complaints over the past few weeks over threats made against him and his family members.

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana warned last week that the level of incitement currently being directed at Netanyahu “dwarfs what was seen in the lead-up to Rabin’s assassination.”