Kafe Knesset for April 13
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Q: What could possibly unite such disparate figures as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid?
A: The latest provocation from Ha’aretz, of course. An op-ed published by Ha’aretz on Wednesday claimed that religious Zionists are more dangerous than Hezbollah and car accidents, and lamented that the government can’t kill them.
The outrage-filled comments came very quickly. Netanyahu called it “shameful and delusional,” adding that Ha’aretz has “totally lost it,” and that “the religious-Zionist public is the salt of the earth; their sons and daughters serve in the IDF and national (civilian) service for the State of Israel and Israel’s security. I am proud of them, as I am of most citizens of the state. Ha’aretz must apologize.” Liberman called for a consumer boycott of the far-left daily. “Whenever you think Ha’aretz went as low as it can go,” Bennett, whose party is meant to represent the people the article attacked, tweeted, “it surprises you with a new low…No group of people deserves such a hate-filled article…Mock me, call me a fascist or a supporter of apartheid or dangerous to Israel. I can take it. But I will not forgive you for deriding this wonderful group.” Herzog said he is “sick of generalizations” against all groups of people, and the article should be denounced. Lapid gave several examples of religious Zionists who contributed to Israel and its security, including his close friend former education minister Rabbi Shai Piron, and called the article anti-Semitic. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of Bennett’s party, repeated the anti-Semitic charge on Army Radio.
It is Passover, so we have to ask: Why is this article different from all other articles? Yes, it’s a despicable thing to write, but Ha’aretz has plenty of in-house provocateurs like Rogel Alpher, Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, who have written all kinds of outrageous things, for example, justifying Palestinians throwing boulders at moving cars (remember, those rocks can and have killed). The author of the article, Yossi Klein, is not very well-known, but reached a new level of infamy in the past day. The reason is that, well, it is Passover. Everyone is busy with their families, and not much else is going on from a political perspective. The politicians don’t have much to say this week that will get them into the newspapers or retweets or shares on Facebook – so they’ve latched on to the latest hate-filled diatribe from Ha’aretz.
In other words, today is a slow news day.