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Minister derides EU policy chief for public tears over Brussels attacks

Taking aim at Federica Mogherini for emotional response, Likud’s Ofir Akunis says ‘Imagine if Thatcher, Meir had done that’

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini cries during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister in the capital Amman, on March 22, 2016, upon receiving the news about a string of explosions that rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station. (str / AFP)
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini cries during a joint press conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister in the capital Amman, on March 22, 2016, upon receiving the news about a string of explosions that rocked Brussels airport and a city metro station. (str / AFP)

Israel’s science and technology minister on Thursday lambasted EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini for crying at a press conference in Jordan on Tuesday, after getting word of the deadly terror attacks in Brussels.

Likud minister Ofir Akunis said that “a leader doesn’t break into tears in front of the cameras. Imagine if [former UK prime minister Margaret] Thatcher or [former Israeli leader Golda] Meir had done so.”

Meir, who was prime minister during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, famously said: “Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”

Akunis’ reported remarks came two days after twin bomb attacks in Brussels killed at least 31 people and injured over 200.

In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s bombings, Akunis chided Belgians for ignoring terror while concentrating on the labeling of products from Israeli settlements.

“I will repeat: many in Europe have preferred to occupy themselves with the folly of condemning Israel, labeling products, and boycotts,” Akunis said on his Facebook page. “In this time, underneath the nose of the Continent’s citizens, thousands of extremist Islamic terror cells have grown. There were those who repressed and mocked whoever tried to give warning. There were those who underestimated.”

Minister Ofir Akunis on August 30, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Minister Ofir Akunis on August 30, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

His comments were derided by opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog of the Zionist Union who spoke out against any Israelis who expressed “morbid joy” over Europe’s pain.

“Enough already!” Herzog said in a statement. “Stop this contemptible talk. Where did you get the chutzpah to degrade innocent victims of terror? Where do you get this miserable cynicism from? This is a distortion of the most basic human morality. This is a painful moment internationally that obligates all people to identify with the bereaved families, whoever they are, and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.”

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz also criticized Belgian complacency in the face of terrorism, saying Wednesday in comments that were carried around the world that Belgians would rather “eat chocolate” than fight terror.

King Philippe Belgium and Queen Mathilde of Belgium mourn after laying down flowers in the area of the explosion at the Maalbeek subway station in Brussels, on March 23, 2016. (AFP/BELGA/THIERRY ROGE)
King Philippe Belgium and Queen Mathilde of Belgium mourn after laying down flowers in the area of the explosion at the Maalbeek subway station in Brussels, on March 23, 2016. (AFP/BELGA/THIERRY ROGE)

“If in Belgium they continue to eat chocolate and continue to enjoy life and to appear to be big liberals and democrats and they don’t define that some of the Muslims who are sitting there are from terror groups, they won’t be able to fight them,” Katz told Israel Radio.

“Europe and the US aren’t prepared to define that the war is on Islamic terror,” he continued. “When your definition isn’t right and doesn’t exist, you can’t lead a global war.”

His comments drew quick condemnation.

“The government has devised a system to eradicate terrorism: Stop eating chocolate,” opposition MK Shelly Yachimovich wrote in a sarcastic Twitter post.

Katz suggested that Israel is an example of how to take a clear position in preventing terror.

“We carry on our life here, but we are prepared and have no illusions and that comes from our ability to define who is the enemy,” he said. “The Europeans, and even the United States, haven’t defined who is the opponent.”

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