A day after sparking public outrage with a racist tirade against Israelis of North African and Middle Eastern descent, film critic Gidi Orsher on Sunday defended a different Facebook post in which he compared Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev to Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
In a Sunday interview with Channel 2, Orsher, who was suspended from Army Radio over his online comments, claimed that while he didn’t recall writing the post about Regev, he stood by the comparison.
“All of the movies in recent years are not left-wing,” Orsher wrote on his Facebook page last month of the ongoing spat between Regev and many Israeli artists over state funding for so-called politicized performances. “Whoever claims this, has not seen Israeli films since the 1960s. This is garbage propaganda from the mouth of Regev-Goebbels.”
Responding to criticism of his second controversial statement revealed in as many days, Orsher told the TV station: “I don;t remember that, I have no idea. Writing is my profession, I write thousands of words a day, so I don’t know, and don’t remember.”
And yet, he continued, “there are some similarities” between the actions of Regev and Goebbels. “I hope the ideology is a little different, perhaps more humane.”
He also said that Regev and Goebbels couldn’t be identical “because Goebbels was a man and Regev is a woman.”
On Saturday, Orsher drew ire from lawmakers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for posting disparaging remarks about the culture of Mizrahi Israelis.
In a Facebook post directed at “those from the east,” Orsher remarked: “Next time you suffer from a heart attack, skip the medical procedure and follow your grandmother’s remedy of putting a chicken leg on your head instead.”
He suggested that next time the country comes under a rocket attack, Mizrahis should “ignore the Iron Dome’s warning and recite Psalms or perhaps wait for the matriarch Rachel to protect you.”
Orsher also said that in lieu of using a computer, Mizrahi Jews should “go back to writing on parchment, sending messages with fire and responding to the media hysterically (which is something you do already).”
Jewish ethnic divides among Israel’s Sephardic and Ashkenazi — or European descended communities — have been characterized by what many say is a history of systemic discrimination against Middle Eastern Jews by the ruling Ashkenazi elite.
Army Radio swiftly condemned Orsher’s remarks and suspended him, pending an internal review of his Facebook posts.
Netanyahu, Regev, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Naftali Bennett all harshly criticized Orsher over his remarks.
On Sunday afternoon, Orsher took to Facebook again, defending his post as “something that was written out of concern for our society… I apologize if I have offended anyone, I am sorry if the post was interpreted differently from how it was intended.”