Amid a dispute between Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an image of Edelstein as Adolf Hitler was posted to the Facebook page of the Likud Youth Movement over the weekend by a right-wing extremist.
The image was posted as a comment on the page by a user called Asher Yaku, who also called Edelstein “Hitlerstein.”
The comment was removed on Sunday and the group, an official body of Netanyahu’s Likud party, condemned the image.
“We were shocked to discover a disgusting comment on our Facebook page at the weekend, with an image inciting against Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein,” the Likud Youth Group wrote on its Facebook page. “The many merits of the former Prisoner of Zion, who suffered many abuses in the Soviet Union are well known to everyone.” The group said there was no room within Likud for such hate speech.
David Shean, head of the Likud Youth Movement said, “This crossed red lines, and must sound a warning to us all.” He added that the group was looking at taking legal measures against the perpetrator.
Culture Minister Miri Regev, who sparked what became a public argument between Netanyahu and Edelstein over last week’s Independence Day celebrations — when Netanyahu attended and addressed the opening celebratory event over objections by Edelstein — also condemned the image.
“Such an extreme and offensive image deserves every condemnation,” she said. “There is no room for using symbols of Nazism.”
Yaku was previously responsible in 2015 videos in which Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and then Supreme Court president Miriam Naor were depicted as Nazis.
Yaku is reportedly an Israeli who lives in the United States. In 2015, no legal action was taken against him because, although in Israel his videos would be considered incitement and a punishable offense, in the US, they are permitted as legitimate expressions of freedom of speech.
The official state Independence Day ceremony was overshadowed by a political squabble between Edelstein and Regev, both members of the ruling Likud party, over Netanyahu’s determination to attend the event and address the invited guests. The Knesset speaker is traditionally the most senior official to speak at the event, which is supposed to be free of politics.
After the event, at which Netanyahu spoke at length and lit a torch, Edelstein publicly criticized Regev and mocked her aspirations to become prime minister. Regev responded, saying his comments were “full of lies and half-truths, if not completely staged. Edelstein continues to harm Likud, the prime minister, and me, and to behave in a manner which is as far as possible from dignified.”
Edelstein also charged that Netanyahu spoke for far longer than had been agreed at the event, ruining it.