The Delegation of the European Union in Israel he cancelled a diplomatic reception scheduled in Tel Aviv for 9 May, the day on which the Europe Day, due to the participation, representing the Israeli government, of Itamar Ben-Gvir, leader of the far-right Jewish Power party and Minister of Public Security. On the afternoon of Monday 8 May, the delegation wrote on Twitter:
“Unfortunately this year we have decided to cancel the diplomatic reception because we don’t want to give space to someone whose opinions contradict the values with which the European Union identifies itself”.
The EU Delegation to 🇮🇱 is looking forward to celebrating Europe Day on May 9, as it does every year. Regrettably, this year we have decided to cancel the diplomatic reception, as we do not want to offer a platform to someone whose views contradict the values the 🇪🇺 stands for. >
— EU in Israel 🇪🇺🇮🇱 (@EUinIsrael) May 8, 2023
Ben-Gvir, who was also supposed to give a speech at the reception, is 47 years old and has been a minister since December 2022, after Jewish Power entered the right-wing coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He only entered parliament in 2021 but for years he has been one of the reference figures of the Israeli far right. Born into a secular family, as a boy he became close to the religious and nationalist extreme right during the First Palestinian Intifada between the 1980s and 1990s, a popular uprising that caused clashes and violence between 1987 and 1993.
Ben-Gvir is known for his drastic stances on security issues and for some controversial statements on Israeli Arabs. He was part of an extremist organization that was later outlawed and in 2007 was convicted of inciting racism. Although not an ultra-Orthodox, in the last elections he obtained many votes from the ultra-Orthodox community, which largely supports his nationalism. «Today Ben-Gvir is the most important figure on the Israeli right after Netanyahu», He said al New York Times Nadav Eyal, Israeli political commentator and journalist.
In Israel, Ben-Gvir’s participation in the reception for Europe Day (which celebrates the signing, on May 9, 1950, of the Schuman declaration, the founding document of the European Union) there was discussion for a couple of days and the Times of Israel he wrote that some European Union officials had asked the Israeli government to send a different representative to the reception.
Ben-Gvir wrote on Twitter that “the European Union claims to represent multiculturalism but practices censorship instead.”
It’s a shame that the EU, which claims to represent multiculturalism instead practices silencing.
It is an honor for me to represent the Israeli government, the heroic IDF, and the people of Israel in every forum. Real friends know how to voice criticism & how to hear it as well.
— Itamar Ben Gvir (@itamarbengvir) May 8, 2023