Ben-Gvir lashes out at supermodel Bella Hadid over Palestinian rights

Al-Jazeera  /  August 25, 2023

Hadid criticized the far-right minister’s comments, who said Israeli rights trump Palestinian freedom of movement.

Israel’s far-right national security minister has sparred with US supermodel Bella Hadid over comments this week that Palestinians condemned as racist.

In an interview with N12 News on Wednesday, Itamar Ben-Gvir said that the right to life and movement for Jewish settlers in illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank trumped the right to movement for Palestinians.

Palestinians have long railed against travel restrictions, including checkpoints, imposed on them by Israel in the occupied West Bank, an area where they exercise limited self-rule.

Ben-Gvir, who lives in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba near the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron/Al-Khalil, said in the interview the curbs were needed to protect his family’s security.

“My right, my wife’s right, my children’s right to travel on the roads of Judea and Samaria is more important than the right to movement for Arabs [Palestinians],” he said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical Hebrew name.

Supermodel Bella Hadid, whose father is Palestinian and who has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights, criticized Ben-Gvir’s comment on Instagram, where she has close to 60 million followers.

“In no place, no time, especially in 2023 should one life be more valuable than another’s. Especially simply because of their ethnicity, culture or pure hatred,” she wrote in a post on Thursday.

She also posted a video from leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem showing Israeli soldiers in Hebron telling a resident that Palestinians are not permitted to walk on a certain street because it is reserved for Jews. “Does this remind anyone of anything?” she wrote.

Ben-Gvir responded in a statement on Friday calling Hadid an “Israel hater” and said she had shared only a segment of the interview on her social media account in order to portray him as a racist.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday condemned Ben-Gvir’s remark as “racist and heinous” and said it “only confirms Israel’s apartheid regime of Jewish supremacy”.

The international community, along with the Palestinians, considers settlement construction illegal. More than 700,000 Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem – territories captured by Israel in 1967 and sought by the Palestinian leaders for a future state.

Palestinians in Hebron, where Jewish settlements eat up a significant proportion of the centre of the city, are particularly vulnerable to state-sponsored settler violence as well as Israeli surveillance.

Settler attacks against Palestinians and their property are also a regular occurrence.

Israel has rejected any suggestions that it maintains an apartheid system over Palestinians, despite reports by leading rights organizations – including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – otherwise.

The West Bank has been rocked by violence since early last year, especially with repeated deadly raids by the army.

According to the United Nations, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed this year, the highest number of fatalities since 2005.

Ben-Gvir, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition, has been convicted in the past of inciting racism and of supporting a terrorist organization.



Israel’s Ben-Gvir lashes out at Bella Hadid over Palestinians rights comment

Ayah al-Khaldi & Tamara Khoury

Middle East Eye  /  August 25, 2023

Far-right politician calls supermodel ‘Israel hater’ after she rebukes him for his ‘inflammatory’ remarks.

Supermodel Bella Hadid rebuked Israel’s national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir for saying his rights were more important than those of Palestinians, prompting a jeering response from the far-right politician. 

“To the Israel hater Bella Hadid, good morning,” Ben-Gvir said on X, formally known as Twitter, on Friday. 

He then proceeded to double down on controversial comments he made earlier this week in which he said his rights were “more important” than those of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. 

Bella Hadid, who is of Palestinian origin, took to Instagram on Wednesday to condemn the far-right politician’s remarks.  

“In no place, no time, especially in 2023 should one life be more valuable than another’s. Especially simply because of their ethnicity, culture, or pure hatred,” she wrote on her Instagram story.

Responding to the post, Ben-Gvir accused Hadid of trying to portray him as “racist and backward”. 

“I don’t apologise or take back my comments. I will repeat them 1,000 times,” he said. 

Speaking in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12, Ben-Gvir on Wednesday said that he and his family’s right “to get around on the roads” in the West Bank was “more important than the right to movement for Arabs”.

“That’s the reality. That’s the truth. My right to life comes before their right to movement,” he said. 

His comments have sparked backlash and condemnation inside and outside of Israel.

The United States State Department called them “inflammatory” and said it condemned “all racist rhetoric”. 

Ben-Gvir lives in a settlement in the West Bank near Hebron/Al-Khalil and has invited Hadid to visit Kiryat Arba “to see how we live here”. 

Nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers live in more than 250 Jewish settlements and outposts across the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law.

Hadid, born in the United States to a Palestinian father, has been a vocal critic of Israel.

Her advocacy for Palestinian rights on her Instagram account, which boasts nearly 60 million followers, has previously drawn the criticism of members of the Israeli parliament and even the official Israeli account on X.

‘Backwards racist’

The exchange between the model and and minister has garnered ​​widespread reactions from within Israel and beyond.

Many Israeli social media users rallied behind Hadid against Ben-Gvir, underscoring his “extreme views”. 

TWEET  :  Translation: “If you don’t want to be a backward racist, you won’t come out a backward racist. Just saying.”

One user mockingly stated “don’t forget to take her to Baruch Goldstein’s grave in Meir Kahane Park,” referring to a settler who massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994 while they stood for prayer in Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. 

Ben-Gvir has in the past expressed his admiration of Goldstein. 

Another user called on the minister to focus on “doing his job” instead of responding to models on social media.

Ben-Gvir, who has a long track record of expressing racist, anti-Palestinian views, joined the extremist Jewish Kach party at a young age and was arrested and charged multiple times over his violent activism against Palestinians.