By Andrew Friedman/TPS
President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Prime Minister Netanyahu and a list of Israeli leaders offered uniform condemnation for an opinion column, published Wednesday in the Hebrew-language Haaretz daily, comparing national-religious Jews to Hezbollah and warning that Orthodox Israelis who are loyal to the State “are coming [for us]. In a moment, they will break down our door.”
The article, entitled “More Dangerous Than Hezbollah” by left-wing commentator Yossi Klein, said “the national religious are dangerous. More dangerous than Hezbollah, more than drivers who commit car-ramming attacks or kids with scissors.
“You can kill Arabs, but you can’t kill them,” Klein lamented.
The political echelon was quick to respond. Liberman called for a boycott of Haaretz, while Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called the column “anti-Semitic.” Writing on Twitter, Rivlin called the national religious community “part and parcel of this land [of Israel]” with deeper roots in the country than many other constituencies.
“Klein’s column was [nothing more than] defamation that exposes a vast hatred and undermines any capacity to dialogue or criticize,’ Rivlin wrote.
Zionist Camp Chairman Yitzhak Herzog compared the column to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s election day warning that “Arabs are going to the polls in droves.”
Only the left-wing Meretz Party refused to condemn Klein, with MK Tamar Zandberg writing that she “would be more excited by the nationalist shock over Klein if Bennett or [Netanyahu] — you know what, [Herzog] or Shelly Yachimovitch — would tweet when leftists are called traitors or chicken shit.”
Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennet and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said they had received calls from the families of fallen IDF soldiers complaining about the comparison.
Klein, for his part, doubled down Thursday on the article, telling Army Radio that he has “nothing to apologise for.” Asked about his repeated use of the phrase “they, his assertion that “for the religious Zionist community, lying is a way of life” and his claim that the community as a whole “rapes [the rest of the country] with their eyes towards the heavens were anti-Israel-Semitic” did not amount either to generalizing about the community or to incitement.
Rather, Klein said only that he was “speaking his mind” and representing a “view that is simply not able to be heard.”