Netanyahu relative says Israel government 'promoting facism, racism'

Netanyahu relative says Israel government 'promoting facism, racism'
The niece of Benjamin Netanyahu's wife has accused the Israeli prime minister and his government of promoting racism and fascism in Israel. 
2 min read
25 March, 2023
Benjamin Netanyahu re-took power in Israel late last year [Mark Kerrison/In Pictures via Getty]

A relative of Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly slammed the Israeli prime minister's government for promoting 'violence, racism, nationalism and fascism'.

Ruth Ben-Artzi, an Israeli political scientist and niece of the prime minister's wife Sara, railed against Netanyahu and his government – widely perceived to be the most right-wing the country has ever seen – in an interview with Haaretz.

"I am ashamed, sad and angry. Ashamed that my relatives have no shame. That they are in a position of power that promotes and encourages violence, racism, nationalism and fascism," Ben-Artzi said.

The 51-year-old is an associate professor of political science at Providence College in Rhode Island in the United States, and the subjects of her research include Israel and Palestine.

In the interview published Saturday, Ben-Artzi criticised Israel’s historic policy of oppressing Palestinians, and said the state had made it difficult for Israelis to understand their history.

"My generation did not have the tools to understand the history of the Palestinians, or the possibility to talk about the occupation openly. No one taught us about the Nakba or told us, 'The Palestinians lived here before us, before our families came here,'" she said in the interview. 

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Ben-Artzi's immediate family have a record of standing up against the Israeli state. Her father Matania – Sara Netanyahu’s brother – refused to serve in the Israeli military in the occupied Palestinian Territories in 1980 after seeing the "humiliations and the oppression" the Palestinians were subject to, for which he was tried in a military court. 

Her mother Ofra is a prominent activist, who advocated on behalf of Palestinian residents being evicted from Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem.

Ben-Artzi’s younger brother Yonatan served two years in prison for refusing to be conscripted into the Israeli army. 

Her uncle by marriage Benjamin Netanyahu took power in Israel late last year and appointed extreme-right political leaders to senior government roles.

At least 90 Palestinians have been killed this year by Israeli forces, many in the near-daily raids Israel conducts in the occupied West Bank. 

Netanyahu’s government is currently facing widespread protests against a judicial reform bill that would give the parliament more control over Israel’s Supreme Court.