Opposition politicians lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday, accusing him of hypocrisy for scolding an IDF general for “cheapening” the memory of the Holocaust in a Remembrance Day speech.
Netanyahu, during Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, upbraided Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, calling his comments on recent social trends in Israel — made during a Holocaust Remembrance Day event last week — “outrageous” and asserting that they “cheapened” the memory of the Holocaust.
Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog called Netanyahu’s “attempt to level a threat and silence IDF officers dangerous and unprecedented.”
“The deputy chief of staff spoke about the illness in Israeli society and clarified that he wasn’t drawing a connection with the Nazi [German] regime,” Herzog wrote on Facebook. Turning Netanyahu’s words against him, he called the prime minister’s attack on an IDF officer who wasn’t able to defend himself “outrageous and inappropriate.”
Golan came under fire after saying Wednesday that “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.”
On Thursday he walked back his statement amid public outcry, saying his address was not meant to compare the actions of Israel or the IDF to those of the Nazis, but Netanyahu and other right-wing politicians have continued to lash out at Golan over the comments.
Much of the criticism of Netanyahu turned on accusations that the prime minister himself has used the memory of the Holocaust for political gains.
Meretz party leader Zehava Galon sniped on Twitter saying, “if there’s anybody who understands cheapening the Holocaust…”
MK Shelly Yachimovich, a senior member of the center-left Zionist Union faction, blasted Netanyahu, saying it’s “absurd” for Netanyahu, “the most brutal cheapener of the Holocaust,” to accuse the deputy chief of staff of cheapening the Holocaust.
The prime minister, she said in a statement, has “co-opted the memory of the Holocaust for his own political needs endless times,” and his attack on Golan is “cynicism for cynicism’s sake.”
Others defended Golan and accused Netanyahu of pandering to the right wing with his denunciation.
“If, instead of attacking the deputy chief of staff, Netanyahu would act in the public arena in order to prevent racist and extremist phenomena, we would have no need for senior officers, of whose bravery [in speaking out] I’m proud, to fill this vacuum of leadership,” Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni said.
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said those who are still attacking Golan after he issued his clarification, alluding to Netanyahu, want “to take a highly decorated officer, who devoted his life to protecting the homeland and taught generations of fighters, and come across as patriots at his expense.”
“This is already inappropriate and immoral,” he said in a statement.
Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman said Netanyahu’s attack on Golan stems from “those same developments he’s warning against” — the rise of militant right-wing nationalism in Israel.