When an incensed Yuli Edelstein spoke to Channel 10 on Thursday about his protracted feud with Culture Minister Miri Regev over the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony, the Knesset speaker mentioned with bemusement that Regev had informed him ahead of Wednesday’s event that one of the attendees would be former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
Asked if he had noted to her that Thatcher passed away in 2013, Edelstein said with a smile that he had not.
The comments sparked a meme storm on social media, as the internet proceeded to have a field day with the minister’s apparent gaffe (Regev has said she does not remember making such comments).
Caricaturist Amos Biderman made a sketch of Thatcher explaining that she had “prior commitments.”
— Amos Biderman (@AmosBiderman) April 20, 2018
One commentator photoshopped the former British premier into the ceremony.
— Lior Harari- ליאור הררי (@Likudnetanyahu) April 19, 2018
Another joked that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken far longer than had been agreed with Edelstein because he had been allotted minutes freed up by Thatcher’s absence.
14 דקות כי הוא קיבל גם את הזמן של תאצ'ר, שלא יכלה להגיע
And one noted that Regev had dressed up as Thatcher in Purim of 2015.
לעולם לא תנחשו למי מירי רגב התחפשה ב-2015.
— avishai matia (@avishai_matia) April 19, 2018
“Bringing Margaret Thatcher to the ceremony still makes more sense to me than the president of Honduras,” one user wrote, in reference to another aborted invitation championed by Regev.
להביא את מרגרט תאצ׳ר לטקס העצמאות עדיין יותר הגיוני לי מנשיא הונדורס
— Reshef Shay (@Rereshef) April 19, 2018
The state ceremony was overshadowed by the 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 kept free of politics.
Edelstein on Thursday said Netanyahu’s credibility has been hurt after the premier spoke for nearly three times the length he had agreed to.
In an interview aired Thursday with Channel 10, Edelstein also took aim at Regev, who organized the ceremony and pushed for Netanyahu’s inclusion, saying the festivities had been “ruined.”
Edelstein initially threatened to boycott the event over the demand by Regev, whose ministry is responsible for producing it, to allow Netanyahu to deliver a speech. Edelstein claimed the prime minister’s unexpected inclusion in the official 70th Independence Day festivities amounted to “politicizing” the event.
The sides reached a compromise deal allowing Netanyahu to light a torch and make a short speech no more than five minutes in length and limited in scope to the Declaration of Independence.
But once he took the podium, Netanyahu’s comments turned to the state of the country under his leadership, and the “short” speech went on for almost 14 minutes, far longer than Edelstein’s eight-minute address.
Responding to the interview, Regev tweeted that it was “full of lies and half-truths.”
Michael Bachner contributed to this report.