Israel's Minister of Public Security Under Fire - Here's Why
07:34 GMT 08.05.2022 (Updated: 17:26 GMT 15.01.2023)
Omer Bar Lev has been known as a solid military commander. His name has also been linked to peace and political activity and this is why it was believed he would be a good minister, who would be able to ensure the country's security. Almost one year after he assumed office, the reality shows otherwise.
A year ago, it was Israel's former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who held the title of the country's most despised politician.
Multiple protests were staged against him, banners calling for his resignation were dispersed all across Israel. Social media was inundated with angry comments targeting Netanyahu and his family because of his corruption charges and the allegations he had been clinging to his seat.
Almost a year after his departure, Netanyahu is no longer grabbing the negative headlines like he did in the past, and criticism is now mostly directed at another politician, Israeli Minister of Public Security Omer Bar Lev.
When he assumed office last June, it was believed that Bar Lev had all the necessary skills to do the job.
Back in the 1980s, he was the commander of the IDF's elite Sayeret Matkal unit and stood at the helm of several most daring operations. Later, in the 1990s, he dedicated his life to peace activity, wrote books and was one of the founders of the Peace Now, a movement promoting the end of Israel's so-called occupation of the Palestinian territories and calling for coexistence between the two peoples.
Later in his life, he entered the political scene and became a member of the liberal Labour party for which he is working today.
But these achievements didn't help him to get the support of the public. In April, a poll conducted by Israel Democracy Institute revealed that only 19 percent of Israelis said they could trust the Minister of Public Security. Nearly 64 percent confessed they could not rely on him.
There are several factors that contributed to the distrust.
Since March Israel has been witnessing a wave of terror activity. So far, Palestinian and Israeli Arabs have committed five major terror attacks within the Jewish state. The number of civilian victims currently stands at 20, higher than the average registered during the 12 years of Netanyahu's tenure.
Israelis have pinned the blame for the terror wave on Bar Lev personally. Social media have been boiling with angry comments against him. He’s being booed when he arrives at a crime scene, with people demanding he resign.
תושבי אלעד אומרים לעמר בר לב מה הם חושבים עליו pic.twitter.com/SleApdAtH4— yoel belinitzki (@yoelbelinitzki) May 5, 2022
[Omer Bar Lev arrives in Elad, a city in central Israel, where three people were killed on Thursday night at the hands of two Palestinian terrorists. Crowds are chanting 'Go Home']
However, his inability to maintain public security has not been the only reason for the low ratings, people are targeting Bar Lev for his perceived confusion, incompetence and unprofessional comments.
One of the most notorious instances occurred at the end of March, when he attended the funeral of one of Beer Sheba terror attack victims. Back then, he was caught saying that Israel would not rest until the murderer was jailed. But the perpetrator of the attack was shot dead on the spot by a bus driver, and for the Minister of Public Security not to possess such a crucial piece of information was embarrassing.
Several days later he found himself in yet another awkward situation as he sent his condolences to the families of the "fallen" security officers who participated in an operation against Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank's city of Jenin at the beginning of April, even though there were no Israeli casualties.
More recently, he gave away a military secret, revealing the death place of a soldier, killed in 1984.
These apparent slips of the tongue have not only cost Bar Lev a reputation, they have turned him into a joke.
"Leave Bar Lev in peace. He is not with us. He doesn't know who's against who and he calls himself the Minister of Public Security. He is a walking joke", wrote one tweep.
תעזבו את בר לב, הוא בכלל לא איתנו....., הוא לא יודע מי נגד מי....השר לבטחון פנים אלאק, בדיחה מהלכת.— דוד יעקב (@1d6QeQIbHd6yKFA) May 6, 2022
"Bar Lev reminds me of Biden. He is senile and detached from reality", added another.
בר לב מזכיר לי את ביידן, סנילי ולא מחובר.— רפיקי (@rafiki1010) May 3, 2022
And unless there is a miracle, he will probably remain Israel's most despised politician…