Michael Ben-Ari

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Michael Ben-Ari
Michael Ben Ari.jpg
Date of birth (1963-10-12) 12 October 1963 (age 51)
Knessets 18
Faction represented in Knesset
2009–2012 National Union
2012–2013 Otzma LeYisrael

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 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]


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]

Ben-Ari lives in the Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron. His brother, Herzl Ben-Ari, is the head of the Karnei Shomron Local Council.

Political career[edit]

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 neighborhood in which he grew up. Throughout the 18th Knesset session, he struggled to bring attention to the growing number of Sudanese whom he blamed for increasing crime rates and causing other problems for local residents. In June 2011, to draw attention to what he saw as the growing 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[edit]

In March 2010, in response to David Miliband's statement that the Israeli cloning of British passports is "intolerable", Aryeh Eldad MP 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?".[19] The canine theme was taken up by Michael 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".


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.[20][21] Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin called the police commissioner and clarified that the police has no authority to arrest an MK without his approval.[22] 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.[23] Ben-Ari's response was to suggest that Aharonovich first verify the facts before coming to conclusions.[24] The IDF Spokesman’s office started an investigation into whether the IDF and Border Guard acted illegally in their treatment of Ben-Ari.[25] 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.[26][27]


  1. ^ "The 18th Knesset presents: an MK originally from Kach" (in Hebrew). February 14, 2009. 
  2. ^ "The Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology - Doctorate Graduates" (in Hebrew). Bar-Ilan University. Retrieved 2009-06-13. 
  3. ^ "Knesseth profile of Michael Ben--Ari" (in Hebrew). Knesset. Retrieved 2010-10-25. 
  4. ^ "Biography" (in Hebrew). personal website. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  5. ^ "Number 4 in the National Union: Everyone Understand that Kahane was Right" (in Hebrew). Yedioth Ahronoth. February 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ The "Kahanist" MK complained about Arie Golan: He Cut me Short in an Interview Maariv
  7. ^ Candidates for the 16th Knesset Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  8. ^ List of Candidates: Jewish National Front Knesset website
  9. ^ Far-rightist MK: Hitler Youth pope not welcome in Israel
  10. ^ Fendel, Hillel (2009-04-30). "Protest Letter: 'Israel Going Too Far for Pope'". Israel National News. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  11. ^ Uri Avnery July 17, 2010
  12. ^ U.S. Denies Visa to MK Ben-Ari Israel National News
  13. ^ https://www.5tjt.com/featured-news/7746-in-the-knesset[dead link]
  14. ^ "MK Ben Ari Brings Sudanese to Posh Pool". Israel National News. Retrieved 15 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Lis, Jonathan (March 12, 2012). "Israeli delegation cannot travel to U.S after MK Ben Ari denied entry visa". Haaretz. 
  16. ^ "MP tears up copy of New Testament". 
  17. ^ "Israeli Lawmaker Destroys New Testament". 
  18. ^ "Settlers: Annex Area C in response to PA's UN bid". 
  19. ^ Israeli Cloning of British Passports Intolerable The Daily Telegraph, UK, 23 March 2010.
  20. ^ Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (2009-06-01). "MK Ben-Ari Hospitalized after Police Kick Him at Protest". Israel National News. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  21. ^ וייס, אפרת (June 1, 2009). גורם צבאי: ח"כ בן ארי ביקש ליצור פרובוקציה (in Hebrew). YNet. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ וייס, אפרת (June 2, 2009). "The minister against disturbances in the West Bank, we will consider MKs immunity" (in Hebrew). YNet. 
  24. ^ Uzi Baruch (2009-06-02). בן ארי: על המשטרה לערוך בדק בית (in Hebrew). Israel National News. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  25. ^ Fendel, Hillel. "Knesset Speaker: MK May Not be Detained Without My Approval". Israel National News. 
  26. ^ Ezra Hezki (2009-06-16). מערכת הביטחון מזלזלת בכנסת (in Hebrew). Israel National News. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  27. ^ פרוטוקול מס 15 מישיבת ועדת הכנסת (in Hebrew). Knesset. 2009-06-16. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 

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