A former Knesset speaker and Jewish Agency head drew fire for comments construed as anti-Zionist. Avraham Burg, an Orthodox left-winger who has spent most of his career in Israeli politics, described the Jewish state as a lost cause in a newspaper interview.”To define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end,” Burg, 52, told Ha’artez. “Judaism always prepared alternatives,” he said. “The strategic mistake of Zionism was to annul the alternatives. Israeliness has only body; it doesn’t have soul.” The interview was aimed at promoting a new Burg memoir titled “Defeating Hitler,” which Ha’aretz described as a book of “mourning for the loss of Israel.” Burg’s comments drew fire in the Knesset, which he quit in 2004 in protest of his Labor Party’s plan to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coalition. Ottniel Shneller of the ruling Kadima Party called for Burg to refund all the state benefits he accrued during his years in public service, and even proposed a law that would bar avowed non-Zionists from being buried in Jerusalem’s Mount Zion cemetery, which is usually the resting place of Israeli notables. Gilad Ardan of the opposition Likud predicted that Burg’s remarks would serve the international campaign to delegitimize Israel. “As far as I’m concerned, he deserves to be the Palestinian prime minister,” Ardan said.
SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING