Netanyahu criticizes IDF deputy chief of staff
During a cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister came out against Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, whose Holocaust Remembrance Day speech was highly criticized for comparing Israeli activities to ‘abhorrent processes that took place in Europe, and Germany in particular;’ several Likud ministers have also expressed anger over Golan’s comments.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on the offensive against IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, when opening the weekly cabinet meeting. Netanyahu focused his criticism on Golan’s controversial speech that linked Israeli activity to actions that took place during WWII.
On Wednesday, one day before Holocaust Remembrance Day, Golan gave a talk at a ceremony at the Masua Holocaust Institute in Tel Yitzhak, saying, “The Holocaust must lead us to think about our public life, and more importantly, it must lead everyone who can, not merely those who want, to carry public responsibility. If there is something that frightens me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is seeing the abhorrent processes that took place in Europe, and Germany in particular, some 70, 80 or 90 years ago, and finding manifestations of these processes here among us in 2016.”
Netanyahu criticized Golan during the meeting. “Many things have been said recently about the State of Israel. There is no country that does not have displays of intolerance and violence, but Israeli democracy is strong. It condemns these displays and it deals with them according to the law and by other means.
“The comparison that was made in IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan's remarks about processes that characterized Nazi Germany 80 years ago is infuriating,” continued Netanyahu. “The remarks are fundamentally incorrect. They should not have been made at any time, much less now. They do an injustice to Israeli society and belittle the Holocaust. The deputy chief of staff is an outstanding officer, but his remarks on this issue were utterly mistaken and unacceptable to me.”
Prior to the cabinet meeting, Likud party ministers participated in a tumultuous discussion, with several vehemently criticizing Golan and calling for Netanyahu to reprimand him. Minister of Education Miri Regev called for Golan’s resignation due to what she described as the “severe words” he used in his speech.
“It is not the IDF deputy chief of staff’s place to interfere in social matters,” she said. “I call on him to resign immediately.”
Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz was also critical of the Golan, saying that Netanyahu should reprimand him. “It should have already happened in order to put an end to this story,” said Steinitz. “Everyone makes mistakes, and you don’t end a decorated officer’s career over one blunder, but there should be a rebuke.”
Minister of Science, Technology and Space Ofir Akunis added to this, “It’s inconceivable that while we’re traveling through the world and trying to fight the BDS movement, the IDF deputy chief of staff is making such statements.”
Mere hours after Golan’s speech, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called Netanyahu and demanded that Golan retract his speech. At the same time, Ya’alon issued a statement in support of Golan, saying that his words were purposely twisted in an attempt to “politically damage the IDF and its officers.”