Israeli poet defends Abbas ‘genocide’ speech

Natan Zach places ad in paper saying PA president told the truth in his address, while Netanyahu told ‘tall tales’

Natan Zach, undated (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Natan Zach, undated (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

An acclaimed Israeli poet took out an ad in a daily Hebrew newspaper Tuesday asserting that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had spoken the “truth” in his UN speech, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had told “tall tales” in his.

In an interview with Army Radio, Natan Zach defended Abbas’s use of the word “genocide” to describe Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip over the summer.

“Worse, or at least no less worse, things have been said by Israeli politicians than what Abbas said about genocide,” he said. “To some extent, in a moment of anger after they pushed him around in failed talks over the course of a year and more, he blurted out an unfortunate word.”

“For Abbas, this is genocide, a small genocide,” he added.

The ad in Haaretz placed by Israeli poet Nathan Zach. The hebrew text translates to: "The arguments of Mahmoud Abbas -- Truth; Netanyahu's arguments -- Tall tales." (screen capture)
The ad in Haaretz placed by Israeli poet Nathan Zach. The Hebrew text translates to: “The arguments of Mahmoud Abbas — Truth; Netanyahu’s arguments — Tall tales.” (screen capture)

Zach is no stranger to controversy.

In 2011, Zach made disparaging comments about Jews of Middle Eastern descent, which drove hundreds of people to sign a petition calling on then education minister Gideon Sa’ar to remove Zach’s work from the educational curriculum and revoke his appointments at academic institutions.

“The idea of taking people who have nothing in common arose,” he said in a television interview, according to a translation by Haaretz. “The one lot comes from the highest culture there is – Western European culture – and the other lot comes from the caves.”

And in 2006, he had to be removed by security at a Labor Party conference in Beit Shemesh after taking the stage while intoxicated and addressing the public while wildly waving his arms.

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