It's time for Israeli Jews to leave behind the mentality of the victim and the ghetto, and stop making comparisons between Hitler and Arafat, Saddam Hussein or even Ahmadinejad, said former Foreign Minister Shlomi Ben-Ami in a speech to the Spanish Parliament Sunday.
Such comparisons are an obstacle to Israel's relationship with the international community and, even worse, "Give legitimacy to some Palestinian comparisons between Israel and the Nazis," he said.
In his speech, the keynote event in a Spanish ceremony in honor of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ben-Ami also censured Europe and Spain's left-wing, whom he claimed lead a campaign of anti-Semitism, disguised as anti-Zionism.
In particular, he condemned Nobel prizewinner Jose Saramago, who referred to Jenin as "Auschwitz".
Nonetheless, he concluded his speech with criticism of Israel and Jews in general, saying "if the strongest nation in the Middle East refers to every war and every threat as a threat of Holocaust, we ourselves are making the Holocaust banal."
We can't hold on obsessively to the mentality of being the victim, he continued, warning that "Israel is a captive of paranoia of the memory of the Holocaust."
Ben-Ami's statements caused a storm in the small Jewish community in Spain, and among Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The head of Spain's Jewish community, Jacobo Israel, emphasized to the Spanish Parliament that Israel is under existential threat by the Iranian regime.
The Foreign Ministry said that Ben-Ami's statements were enraging, particularly when made abroad by an Israeli Jew, speaking in the capacity of a former foreign minister.
Ben-Ami defended himself to the Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper Monday, saying "I believe in explaining things in a balanced manner, which is the only thing that lends credence to our cries against others...We must not interpret current events as a Shoah."
"The ability to critique ourselves is sometimes the best advocacy...I'm sorry that narrow-minded people, instead of promoting Israeli interests, are weakening Israeli advocacy," he said
"Ninety-nine percent of my speech was a defense of Israel and a harsh criticism of the European left...I respect everyone's feelings but am sorry for those who don't see the statements within the proper context," he added