Michael Ben-Ari

Israeli politician

2009–2012National Union2012–2013Otzma LeYisrael 22 Personal detailsBorn (1963-10-12) 12 October 1963 (age 58)

Michael Ben-Ari (Hebrew: מיכאל בן ארי, born 12 October 1963) is an Israeli politician, and former member of the Knesset. During the 18th Knesset, Ben Ari was a member of the National Union party, until it broke up as elections for the 19th Knesset approached and he co-established the Otzma LeYisrael party. He failed to be re-elected to the 19th Knesset. He was banned by the courts from running in the 2019 election. He was the first outspoken disciple of Rabbi Meir Kahane to have been elected to the Knesset.[1] He has a Ph.D in Land of Israel and Archaeology studies.[2]

Early life

Ben-Ari grew up in the Kfar Shalem neighbourhood in south Tel Aviv, born to Mizrahi Jewish parents from Iran and Afghanistan. He studied at the Bnei Akiva yeshiva at Kfar Haroeh, at the hesder yeshiva in Yamit, and at the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva. As part of his hesder army service, he was with the Nahal settlement at Neve Dekalim from 1982 to 1986.[3] He studied education at Bar-Ilan University, gaining a BA, before studying the Talmud for a Master's degree, and the Land of Israel for a PhD. He was a rabbi teacher at the Darchei No'am Yeshiva in Petach Tikva as well as the Bnei Akiva Yeshiva in Giv'at Shmuel.[4]

Political career

Previously a member of the banned Kach party, Ben-Ari still views himself as Meir Kahane's follower.[5][6] He ran with the Herut - The National Movement party in the 2003 elections,[7] and for the 2006 elections, he ran with the Jewish National Front party,[8] but both times failed to be elected since the parties did not pass the threshold. Leading up to the 2009 elections, the Jewish National Front joined a new party called Eretz Yisrael Shelanu. That new alliance then joined the National Union, and Ben-Ari was placed fourth on the combined list for the elections. He entered the Knesset as the party won four seats. Once elected, he appointed Hebron residents and Kahanists Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir as his aides in the Knesset.

In 2009, in an open letter to Israeli leaders and politicians, Ben-Ari stated that Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Israel would be an insult to the memory of Holocaust victims.[9][10]

Unlike his teacher, Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was marginalized and isolated as a member of Knesset, Ben Ari has succeeded in integrating himself into Israel's political arena. According to Uri Avnery his extremist perorations are listened to with 'rapt attention' by most factions in the Knesset.[11]

Ben-Ari's November 2009 United States visa application was denied on the grounds of his arrest during anti-disengagement protests in 2005[12] and his support for Kahanist ideology.[13]

Ben-Ari opened his external Member of Knesset office in the south Tel Aviv neighbourhood where he grew up. Throughout the 18th Knesset session, he struggled to bring attention to the growing number of Sudanese he blamed for increasing crime rates and other residents' problems. In June 2011, to draw attention to what he saw as the ever-increasing illegal alien problem, he bused 40 Sudanese nationals to a prestigious pool in northern Tel Aviv, provided them with new bathing suits and paid for their entrance.[14]

Ben-Ari's 2012 visa application to attend a conference in D.C. was denied on the State Department's "prerogative to ban terrorists from entering the country."[15]

In July 2012, all Members of Knesset were sent a copy of the New Testament by a missionary organization. Ben Ari called it provocative, and subsequently tore his copy, referring to it as a despicable book responsible for the murder of millions of Jews, and which should, including the senders, be put in "history's trash can".[16][17]

In November 2012, Ben-Ari and Aryeh Eldad left the National Union to establish Otzma LeYisrael. Ben-Ari and Eldad publicly burned Palestinian flags in response to the passage of United Nations General Assembly resolution 67/19.[18] The party failed to cross the 2% threshold in the 2013 elections and Eldad subsequently lost his Knesset seat.

Political arguments

In March 2010, in response to David Miliband's statement that the Israeli cloning of British passports is "intolerable", Aryeh Eldad commented: "I think the British are being hypocritical, and I do not wish to insult dogs here, since some dogs show true loyalty, [but] who gave the British the right to judge us on the war on terror?" The canine theme was taken up by Ben-Ari, who said: "Dogs are usually loyal, the British may be dogs, but they are not loyal to us. They seem to be loyal to the anti-Semitic establishment".[19]

Ben-Ari argues that most Arabs should be expelled from Israel.[20]

In May 2011, he equated 'leftists' with Hezbollah and Hamas, calling them "germs" and "enemies of Israel".[21]

During a protest demanding the government escalate the assault on Gaza, he repeated "Let the IDF kick ass!", before complaining, "Why is it that after 200 assaults only 15 were killed? It should be 15 assaults and 2,000 killed!"[20]

In July 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, he was cited as having argued that: "Those who pity their enemies end up being cruel to their own people. Those who are cruel to their enemies truly love their own people."[22]


On 1 June 2009, Ben-Ari was handcuffed and arrested after being involved in an incident near Yitzhar in the West Bank, and despite his parliamentary immunity as Member of Knesset. He climbed onto an army truck and refused to get off, demanding that the Israel Border Police and Israel Defense Forces soldiers explain to him why they had arrested and handcuffed minors at a roadblocking protest.[23][24] Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin called the police commissioner and clarified that the police has no authority to arrest an MK without his approval.[25] Yitzhak Aharonovich, the Internal Security Minister, justified the arrest, despite Ben Ari's parliamentary immunity, saying that he will not let MKs violate the law.[26] Ben-Ari's response was to suggest that Aharonovich first verify the facts before coming to conclusions.[27] The IDF Spokesman's office started an investigation into whether the IDF and Border Guard acted illegally in their treatment of Ben-Ari.[28] On 16 June, the Knesset Committee discussed Ben-Ari's arrest. While the semantics of the word 'arrest' were discussed, it was confirmed that Ben-Ari was not incarcerated. It was reported that a letter from the Chief of General Staff's office stated that the IDF expects elected officials and public representatives not to fan the flames and to abide by instructions from the security forces. Chairman of the committee, Ze'ev Elkin from Likud, criticized the Ministry of Defense for boycotting the meeting and not sending representatives.[29][30]

Banned from the 2019 election

After an appeal by the Meretz party, the Supreme Court of Israel banned Ben-Ari from running in the election due to his extremist political views. He had been a candidate of the Otzma Yehudit party.[31]

Personal life

Ben-Ari lives in the Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron.[32] He is married with nine children. His brother, Herzl Ben-Ari, is the former head of the Karnei Shomron Local Council.[33]


  1. ^ "The 18th Knesset presents: an MK originally from Kach" (in Hebrew). 14 February 2009.
  2. ^ "The Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology - Doctorate Graduates" (in Hebrew). Bar-Ilan University. Retrieved 13 June 2009.
  3. ^ "Knesseth profile of Michael Ben--Ari" (in Hebrew). Knesset. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  4. ^ "Biography" (in Hebrew). personal website. Archived from the original on 14 March 2010. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  5. ^ "Number 4 in the National Union: Everyone Understand that Kahane was Right" (in Hebrew). Yedioth Ahronoth. 2 February 2009.
  6. ^ "הח"כ "הכהניסט" התלונן על אריה גולן: הוא קטע". Nrg.co.il. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  7. ^ "Candidates for the 16th Knesset". Archived from the original on 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  8. ^ "List of Candidates : Jewish National Front". Knesset.gov.il. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  9. ^ title=Far-rightist
  10. ^ Fendel, Hillel (30 April 2009). "Protest Letter: 'Israel Going Too Far for Pope'". Israel National News. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  11. ^ Avnery, Uri (2010-07-17). "Home / Headlines / A Parliamentary Mob - Media Monitors Network (MMN)". Usa.mediamonitors.net. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  12. ^ "U.S. Denies Visa to MK Ben-Ari". Israel National News. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  13. ^ "In The Knesset". 2011-03-14. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  14. ^ "MK Ben Ari Brings Sudanese to Posh Pool". Israel National News. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
  15. ^ Lis, Jonathan (12 March 2012). "Israeli delegation cannot travel to U.S after MK Ben Ari denied entry visa". Haaretz.
  16. ^ "MP Tears Up Copy of New Testament". The Australian. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  17. ^ Jeffay, Nathan (2012-07-17). "Israeli Lawmaker Destroys New Testament – The Forward". Blogs.forward.com. Archived from the original on 2013-04-24. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  18. ^ "Settlers: Annex Area C in response to PA's UN bid - Diplomacy & Politics". Jpost.com. 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  19. ^ Prince, Rosa; Massie-Blomfield, Adrian (23 March 2010). "Israeli Cloning of British Passports Intolerable". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 March 2010.
  20. ^ a b Schechter, Asher (11 January 2013). "Michael Ben Ari, Bugbear of the Left". Haaretz. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  21. ^ Sofer, Roni; Altman, Yair (1 May 2011). "MK Ben-Ari: Eradicate treacherous leftists". Ynetnews.
  22. ^ Mualem, Mazal (14 July 2014). "'Intolerance becoming all too common in Israel,'". Al-Monitor.
  23. ^ Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (1 June 2009). "MK Ben-Ari Hospitalized after Police Kick Him at Protest". Israel National News. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  24. ^ גורם צבאי: ח"כ בן ארי ביקש ליצור פרובוקציה (in Hebrew). YNet. 1 June 2009.
  25. ^ [1][dead link]
  26. ^ "The minister against disturbances in the West Bank, we will consider MKs immunity" (in Hebrew). YNet.co.il. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 2017-07-21.
  27. ^ Uzi Baruch (2009-06-02). בן ארי: על המשטרה לערוך בדק בית (in Hebrew). Israel National News. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  28. ^ Fendel, Hillel. "Knesset Speaker: MK May Not be Detained Without My Approval". Israel National News.
  29. ^ Ezra Hezki (16 June 2009). מערכת הביטחון מזלזלת בכנסת (in Hebrew). Israel National News. Retrieved 16 June 2009.
  30. ^ פרוטוקול מס 15 מישיבת ועדת הכנסת. Knesset.gov.il (in Hebrew). 16 June 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  31. ^ "Analysis: Banning of Ben-Ari unprecedented and uneven". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2019-08-26.
  32. ^ "MK Ben-Ari Hospitalized after Police Kick Him at Protest". Israel National News. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  33. ^ "Minister Ariel Launches New Neighborhood in Karnei Shomron". Israel National News. Retrieved 2017-07-23.

External links

  • Official website
  • Michael Ben-Ari on the Knesset website
  • Hamered Hagadol book first published in 2016 on the Great Revolt
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Leader of Otzma Yehudit
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