Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Then-Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana, June 21, 2021.

Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana is once again in hot water, this time over a remark made during a presentation to a class in Efrat that was heard in a video clip tweeted by Israel’s KAN News public broadcaster.


The remark that has raised such a ruckus was one in which Kahana positioned a fantasy in juxtaposition to acknowledging reality; however, the intent was lost in the translation.

“If I could push a button and send the Arabs on an express train to Switzerland, where they would have a wonderful, fantastic life, I would press that button,” Kahana said.

However, he added: “But what can be done about it? There is no such button; therefore, I believe that we were born here to [coexist] on this Land.”

Kahana made the remark as part of an effort to make his listeners understand the narrative of Palestinian Authority Arabs who believe they are the ones who have lived in the region since ancient times – and the Jews are the interlopers who came to invade and displace them.

It is believed by many that a two-state solution with a PA state including Israel’s post-1967 territory will solve this problem and lead to peace, he noted.

But Kahana warned such a belief is unrealistic, since the Palestinian Authority would prefer to eliminate the Jewish population from the entire country, all of which the Arabs still believe belongs to them.

“Because of this, I believe this story of peace doesn’t exist, certainly not for the present,” he said.

The resulting firestorm took very little time to erupt, particularly with political posturing from Arab MKs.

“There is a button that will remove Kahana from the government and the Knesset,” said Arab Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi. “I will press it soon.” Tibi also said, “There is a conflict, but I would never say that the Jews should be transported by train. That is horrible.”

Kahana called Tibi to apologize for his statement, but Tibi retorted, “Apologize publicly, not in a conversation with me.”

Ra’am (United Arab List) MK Walid Taha hit back, “We are here because this is our homeland. You and those who think like you can continue to shlep your frustration, because simply, we won’t disappear.”

To set the record straight and mollify his offended Arab colleagues, Kahana tweeted: “In a conversation I had last night with students, I reiterated the obvious understanding that neither we nor the Arabs are going anywhere, so we need to find a way to live here together. The current government is an important step in that direction.”

The Religious Zionism party issued a statement as well, noting, “The political future of Matan Kahana depends entirely on Ahmad Tibi, Arafat’s adviser. Look how quickly he was pressured by him and ran to apologize.

“Nor can he make the future of the Jewish state dependent upon Tibi and his friends who support terrorism.

“With the help of God, we will replace this government with a good Jewish, Zionist and national government for Israel.”

Incidentally, there is no express train from Israel to Switzerland. That requires a transfer.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.