Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday harshly condemned Israeli citizens who emigrate to improve their standard of living, saying he had “no patience” for people who leave the Jewish state behind for reasons of convenience.
Lapid, who earlier this week traveled to Hungary to discuss the rise of anti-Semitic incidents in the country, suggested that yordim, a Hebrew term for individuals who left Israel, disrespected the struggles of Jews during the Holocaust.
“I came to [Budapest] in order to deliver a speech in parliament against anti-Semitism, and to remind them how some attempted to murder my father only because the Jews did not have a state of their own, of how my grandfather was killed in a concentration camp, of the starvation of my cousins, of how my grandmother was saved from a death march in the last minute,” he wrote in a post on his official Facebook page.
“So, forgive me if I’m a little impatient with people who are willing to throw away the only Jewish country just because Berlin is more comfortable,” he concluded.
Attached to Lapid’s post was a 1947 photo showing a ship of European Jewish immigrants en route to Palestine.
Thousands of commentators responded to Lapid on his Facebook page, many of whom identified themselves as former residents of Israel. Numerous responses criticized Lapid’s invocation of the Holocaust, and accused the finance minister of imposing austerity measures that drove many individuals out of the country.
“We would all return to Israel in an instant if this government would not degrade its citizens,” one user wrote. “Academics wear themselves out, working and studying, and afterwards they still have to struggle in order to make a decent salary? For what? When you fix that, I’ll come back.” she added.
“I’m sorry, but in our wonderful Jewish state people of your ilk trample the rights of the few remaining Holocaust survivors every day!” another charged. “This self-righteousness is just despicable to me.”
Another Facebook user pointed out that Lapid himself opted to leave the country in 1997 after he was offered a lucrative position in Los Angeles with Hollywood producer Arnon Milchen.
Lapid and his Yesh Atid party won 19 Knesset seats in January’s elections after a campaign that promised to lower the cost of living and improve the middle class’s quality of life. However, after being appointed finance minister, Lapid implemented a string of unpopular austerity measures that, he said, were necessary to counter a government deficit that ran into the tens of billions of shekels.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report