Fabricated images of the president of Israel, top ministers and the police chief dressed in Nazi uniforms were published on the Internet on Sunday as a protest against their objection to a controversial bill that defines Israel as a Jewish state.
President Reuben Rivlin, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, police chief Yohanan Danino, and former minister Michael Eitan were each depicted jauntily dressed in the distinctive black uniforms of the World War II-era Schutzstaffel, more commonly known as the SS.
The images were posted to a Facebook account created the same day under the name Natan Zoabi, Channel 10 reported.
A caption accompanying the montage called them, “The anti-Semites who oppose a Jewish state in the land of Israel.”
According to information in the Facebook account profile, “Zoabi” is a resident of Tel Aviv and a graduate of Tel Aviv University, and claims to be employed by the IDF.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to launch an investigation into the incident, calling it “severe.”
“This is crossing a black line and I take a very stern view of these publications. We all well remember where incitement of this kind led to in past and we need to speedily act to find those involved in this publication and bring them to justice,” he said.
The pictures were reminiscent of a placard distributed at a protest rally in 1995 which depicted prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as a Nazi, shortly before his assassination. That poster was seen as part of a general anti-Rabin atmosphere at the time that some said led to his killing.
In June 2013 a photo depicting Lapid as Hitler was circulated on the Internet. Pundits suggested at the time that the incident was publicity stunt by public relations powerhouse Ran Rahav, possibly as an attempt to tarnish the reputations of Lapid’s critics. Rahav denied the claim.
The “Jewish State” bill, which would enshrine Israel’s character as a Jewish state in Israel’s de facto constitution, has come under harsh criticism from Livni and Lapid, as well as opposition lawmakers.
Rivlin and his predecessor Shimon Peres have also come out against the legislation.
Critics say the law is undemocratic to Israel’s Arab and other minority populations. A stormy cabinet meeting on the bill at the beginning of last week saw Livni accuse Netanyahu of backing the legislation in order to try and pry apart the coalition so that he can call elections.