JERUSALEM (May. 23)
Remarks by Meir Cohen-Avidov, the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, condoning violence against Arabs who attack Jews, triggered an angry public reaction today and demands for dismissal of the Likud MK.
Cohen-Avidov spoke at an emotionally charged rally of West Bank settlers here yesterday in solidarity with 25 suspected members of a Jewish underground terrorist organization who were indicted today for criminal offenses against Arab civilians.
Demanding tougher punishment for Arab terrorists, the Deputy Speaker declared, “I would poke out the eyes of Arab murderers and tear out their guts.” He made similar statements in a Haifa court several weeks ago during the trial of Arabs charged with the murder of a Jewish boy.
Mapam MK Mohammad Wattad demanded that Knesset Speaker Menachem Savidor immediately remove Cohen-Avidov. According to Wattad, the Deputy Speaker represents the entire Knesset and cannot be allowed to express himself in the vocabulary of the very murderers he condemns. He expressed surprise that nobody in Likud seemed to take exception to Cohen-Avidov’s remarks.
Tzali Reshef, leader of the Peace Now movement, said the attitude expressed by the Deputy Speaker only breeds violence. “People who make the distinction between the killing of Jews and killing of Arabs, saying that one was semi-legitimate and the other should be condemned, these people do not have the minimal understanding of what the rule of law is. Such atmosphere created by persons of high rank in the Israeli establishment is what makes a Jewish terrorist organization possible,” Reshef said.
On Monday, Premier Yitzhak Shamir strongly condemned the purported Jewish terrorist underground. He told the Knesset that it is “of concern and regret that after 36 years of our independence there are those among us who challenge the authority of the State and do not accept and honor the basic principle that the government of Israel, and the government only, is responsible for the security of Israel.”