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One on One with Amir Ohana, Israel’s new Minister of Public Security

"I am actually the first person to be elected on open primaries, out of the closet in Israel, right or left"

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Amir Ohana, Israel’s new Minister of Public Security

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Now – after three elections – there is finally a working coalition government in Israel, and ministerial positions have been recently appointed. Likud’s Amir Ohana is in the newly-formed Netanyahu government, as Israel’s Minister of Public Security. He will oversee all of Israel’s law enforcement agencies. Ohana was a former Shin Bet official, a defence lawyer for 10 years, and the first openly gay member of Knesset from the Likud party. 

I first met Ohana in February of 2019, during round one of the Israeli 2019-2020 elections, in the city of Ramle. As the campaigns continued, Ohana made sure I knew that no one else (not even from the Israeli media) was given as much access as me and my team. We would document him in various rallies, campaigns and television studios. 

Ohana had become a household name around Israel as the first gay Justice Minister. Counter-intuitively, he has become hated by many in the left, yet loved and embraced by religious and seculars, who believe that he perfectly defines the values of the Likud party, and the majority of the Israeli right. 

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What changes do you and by extension, members of the Likud party and the government, want to see happen in Israel’s Supreme Courts?

We want to see more checks and balances, but true checks and balances. We want that the judges will judge by the law, the law makers, the legislators bring to them… We’re trying to bring true democracy, in which the major decisions are taken by the public, or those who the public elected, and not by those who are not elected, and don’t take responsibility; they are not accountable to the public for the decisions. We are.

Amir Ohana putting on tefillin

It seems that the prime minister is reaching new heights with various international agreements, and the peace process. But that raises the question: why do you believe this seems to only be happening during the election season, as opposed to the 10 years in which he was in power?

When was Israel in diplomatic relations with other countries as much as we do now? No time before. And not only that, Netanyahu is the one world leader that has good relations, not only with president of the United States, Trump, but also with the president of Russia, Putin, which is an asset and a strategic asset to Israel. Election time is a very small portion of what Netanyahu did during his terms as prime minister, and we hope that we will have many more of those.
 

Many have argued that Trump’s “deal of the century” was an election gift to Netanyahu, and yet it wasn’t implemented. Why was that the case? 

First of all, it’s a very dramatic plan. Arabs up until now, thought that they have nothing to lose. This time, it works in their fair favour, that they have something to lose…. We, within that plan, are making sure that many parts, not all, but many parts of the land of Israel, will be a part of the state of Israel in every aspect.

Why wasn’t sovereignty implemented on the Jordan valley, as promised?

There are 800 kilometers to be mapped out for that plan to come true. So it takes time, hopefully not too long.

Amir Ohana is the first person to be elected in open primaries, out of the closet in Israel, right or left

The education minister Rafi Peretz came out against the members of the LGBT community. You have strongly condemned him, and yet it seems that members of the LGBT community, specifically in Israel, at least the very vocal ones, actively speak out against you. Why do you think that is, and how does that make you feel?

Well, first I learned that it is not something unique. In my meetings overseas, I meet other LGBT politicians from the right wing, and I see that this happens in the rest of the world too. The vocal, as you said, LGBT activists who were traditionally mainly in the left… You have to give credit to the left, because the left was the first to promote LGBT issues and gay rights, and so on and so forth.

They would like to see the right as homophobic, as ignorant, as racist and uneducated as can be. It makes them easier to feel on the ‘good’ side versus the ‘evil’ side. 

Reality is much more complex mainly in here in Israel, where the traditional division between left and right is different from the rest of the world.

I am actually the first person to be elected on open primaries, out of the closet in Israel, right or left. Now, yes, we have disagreements with some of our coalition members… When I need to stand up and say what I think, I do that. 

We have a very large LGBT caucus within Likud. These are my supporters, and they follow me, and we are going a long way together for a long time. 

This is what I try to tell my left-wing friends, our flag, the gay flag is all about variety. All about pluralism. So be more open minded than you are right now. This is what I tell them. It will happen, but it will take time.

Amir Ohana

What message do you believe Israel sends to the world when it indicts a sitting prime minister, but the prime minister remains in power?

What it basically means is that we don’t belittle the presumption of innocence. We truly believe that a person, whether it’s Prime Minister or the last citizen, is innocent until proven guilty. 

As we said before, we have a deep criticism of the Attorney General and of his decision to indict Netanyahu… This case (Case 4000) is unprecedented in the world. They don’t say that Netanyahu got any cash to his pocket, but rather he received positive media coverage. Now, they don’t even say ‘positive media coverage,’ they say ‘less negative’ than it used to be.

It’s very dangerous to politics. It’s very dangerous to democracy. It is very dangerous to journalism. Which is why the Israeli people do not put their trust and their belief in the Attorney General, but they do in the prime minister.

 

Igal Hecht is a documentary filmmaker and journalist who works all over the world. For more visit www.chutzpaproductions.com
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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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