Former Israel Defense Forces general Yair Golan, a lawmaker for the left-wing Democratic Camp party, drew the ire of right-wing politicians on Thursday after he likened far-right politicians to Nazis.
The statement recalled a May 2016 speech by Golan, who was deputy chief of staff at the time, in which he said that processes in Israel were similar to some in Europe in the years leading up to the Holocaust.
The incoming MK was asked about that speech in an interview Thursday with the Radio Darom station, hours before he was to be sworn into the Knesset.
“I’m reminding people that the Nazis came to power democratically, so we have to be careful, very careful, so that extremist figures with a messianic view won’t exploit Israeli democracy to replace the system of government,” Golan, who is No. 3 in the left-wing Democratic Camp, said.
Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked responded to Golan’s statements on Twitter, writing: “Dear Yair, maybe that’s enough?”
“Maybe give up already on this obsession with comparing us to Nazis? It’s not even annoying at this point, just pathetic.”
Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich also described the comparison as an “obsession” of Golan’s.
“As the grandson of Holocaust survivors I despise the cheapening of the Holocaust, which has already become a regular show for [Golan] in his delegitimization campaign against religious Zionism.”
In his 2016 speech for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Golan said that he had discerned processes in Israel that were similar to those that took place in Europe prior to the Holocaust.
In a strongly worded speech uncommon for a military commander, Golan warned against trends of growing callousness and indifference toward those outside of mainstream Israeli society. He called for a “thorough consideration” of how society treats the disadvantaged and “the other” in its midst.
“If there is something that frightens me in the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying horrifying processes that occurred in Europe…70, 80 and 90 years ago and finding evidence of their existence here in our midst, today, in 2016,” Golan said.
He was harshly criticized at the time by many on the right.