European Union Embassy Cancels Event Where Far-right Israeli Politician Was Slated to Speak

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir after a vote in the assembly hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on Feb. 15. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 via JTA>org)

Ben Sales

The European Union’s embassy in Israel canceled a party celebrating Europe Day on Tuesday in order to prevent Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli far-right national security minister, from attending and speaking.

Ben-Gvir had volunteered to address the event, and insisted on coming after EU officials asked him not to attend because, according to an embassy spokesperson, “many of his previous statements and views contradict the values the European Union stands for.” On Monday, the embassy announced that it would cancel the event altogether rather than welcome Ben-Gvir to its stage.

“The EU Delegation to [Israel] is looking forward to celebrating Europe Day on May 9, as it does every year,” the embassy wrote on Twitter Monday afternoon. “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 [EU] stands for.”

The embassy will still be holding a celebration for the Israeli public.

The decision came following a special meeting of ambassadors from European member states in Israel. Nearly all ambassadors reportedly opted to cancel the event, save for those of Hungary and Poland, which like Israel have right-wing governments.

Ben-Gvir had planned to criticize EU governments for funding initiatives that, in his view, harm Israeli soldiers. He responded to the decision by saying that the EU, “which claims to represent the values of democracy and multiculturalism, is undiplomatically shutting mouths.”

“It is an honor and a privilege for me to represent the Israeli government, the heroic IDF soldiers, and the people of Israel in every forum,” he said, according to the Times of Israel. “Friends know how to voice criticism and true friends also know how to take it.”



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