Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not attend a rally against hatred and incitement held in Tel Aviv on Saturday night but sent a prerecorded clip.
The rally, like similar assemblies in Jerusalem, Beersheba and Haifa, was held to condemn both the stabbing of six people at the Jerusalem pride parade on Thursday, and a terror attack against a Palestinian family, in which their house was firebombed and their year-and-a-half old baby was killed. The parents and another son of the Dawabsha family are hospitalized in Israeli hospitals, suffering extensive burns.
The rally was dedicated to both events but Netanyahu’s message, prepared in advance, referred mainly to the stabbing in Jerusalem. He said that “In every society there are extremists and murderers on the fringes, including ours. But the measure of a society is how the center and the leadership respond,” he said.
“At these moments, a 16-year-old girl is fighting for her life in a hospital in Jerusalem. She is a student in the high school next to the university. This is the high school I went to, that my children and friends went to and go to. This attack was against all of our children,” he said.
“We reject this hatred outright,” he said. “We will do whatever is necessary to draw the lessons from this [incident]. But the most important lesson is accepting the other even when they are not like you. And I strongly disagree that doing this goes against Judaism.”’
Netanyahu recalled that as a child, he visited the home of Yosef Klausner, who he called “a great historian.” Over the arched entrance to Klausner’s home, said the prime minister, the words “Judaism” and “Humanity” were engraved in Hebrew. The perpetrator of Thursday’s crime did not represent Judaism, he said.
The assailant in Thursday’s attack was an ultra-Orthodox Jew, Yishai Schlissel, who had just been released from 10 years in jail after carrying out a similar attack at the 2005 Pride Parade. Some in the ultra-Orthodox community publicly denounce the annual march and reject the LGBT community.
“What happened in Jerusalem goes against the spirit of our people,” the prime minister added. “We will continue to lead our country against expressions of hatred, every expression of hatred, and every expression of homophobia against the gay community. We will accept the other because the other is us,” Netanyahu said.
The rally in Tel Aviv was attended by thousands. Speaking live at the event were Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog, Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On, former president Shimon Peres and Nasser Dawabsha, the uncle of Ali Dawabsha who was killed in Thursday’s terror attack.
Likud minister Yuval Steinitz was widely booed when he spoke. Jewish Home MK was prevented from speaking because he opted not to sign a form prepared by the organizers.
President Reuven Rivlin spoke at the rally in Jerusalem.