European Jewish group's chief charges far-right minister Ben-Gvir with inflaming antisemitism

European Jewish group's chief charges far-right minister Ben-Gvir with inflaming antisemitism
Ariel Muzicant, president of the European Jewish Congress, has charged Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir with inflaming antisemitism.
2 min read
10 April, 2024
Itamar Ben-Gvir is an extremist Israeli government minister [AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty-archive]

A senior European Jewish leader has accused extremist Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir of inflaming antisemitism.

Ben-Gvir has called for reintroducing illegal settlements to the devastated Gaza Strip and encouraged Palestinians living in the enclave to leave.

Ariel Muzicant, president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC), said while in Israel last week that such rhetoric leads to increased antisemitism.

"Each time that Ben-Gvir makes these statements, you see a spike in antisemitism," Muzicant said according to The Times of Israel.

"Individuals from the government, such as Ben-Gvir and [far-right Finance Minister Bezalel] Smotrich, are not behaving responsibly at all.

"If you ask me whether I would meet Ben-Gvir, my answer would be no."

In February, Smotrich said freeing 130 hostages held captive in Gaza was "not the most important thing", prompting uproar.

Israel had settlements in Gaza until it withdrew its ground presence there in 2005.

Muzicant was rebuked by the European Jewish Association's Rabbi Menachem Margolin for his comments on Ben-Gvir, which came amid Israel's war on Gaza.

"It's unnecessary sanctimony to criticise and blame an Israeli cabinet minister, and publicly at that, even as Israel fights a just and existential war against Hamas terrorism," Margolin was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.

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Israel continues to be the occupying power in the enclave, whose airspace, land, and waters it controlled even before the Gaza war broke out in October.

The EJC's website says it "federates democratically elected national Jewish community organisations in over 40 European countries, uniting 2.5 million Jews across the continent".

Israel's brutal war on Gaza has so far killed 33,482 people and injured 76,049, according to the strip's health ministry.

The International Court of Justice found in January that Israel was plausibly breaching the UN's Genocide Convention in Gaza.