(JTA) — A right-wing Israeli lawmaker with a history of making controversial statements said if the Israeli government had taken revenge on Palestinians, individual acts of violence could have been prevented.
In particular, state-directed vengeance could have prevented the July 2015 firebombing that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents, as well as the murder of Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir, Jewish Home party Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich wrote Friday on Facebook.
In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Smotrich argued at length that revenge is an “important and moral value,” but must be conducted by the government, not by individuals.
He criticized the Israeli government for not carrying out reprisals “in legitimate ways.” He did not specify what sort of reprisals would be legitimate or exactly whom they would target.
“It is possible to assume that if the State of Israel had not erased, under the influence of twisted Christian morality, the word revenge from its lexicon and had done things in legitimate ways and deterred the enemy, we would not have been faced with these harsh incidents of private individuals taking the law and revenge into their own hands,” he wrote.
“The murder of the youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the murder in Duma (if it was carried out by Jews) are serious and forbidden, but they do not stem from racism – whose meaning is the hatred of the other only because they are different – or from the desire of someone in Israeli society to destroy the Arab people. They reflect anger and a desire for revenge, justified in their own right, on the basis of the hostility and war of annihilation the Arabs are conducting against us.”
Smotrich — who has in the past called for segregating new Jewish and Arab mothers in the hospital, argued the Duma firebombing was not terrorism and organized the anti-gay “Beast Parade” in 2006 — argued the Arabs bear ultimate responsibility for Jewish violence against them.
“If the Arabs had not fought against us, not a single Arab would have been killed here,” he wrote. “If the Arabs had not murdered us night and day, not a single Jew here would have wanted to harm them. War is a bad thing, and during it we are required sometimes to take unpleasant defensive measures. It happens sometimes that mistakes are made as part of it, and even difficult mistakes that are almost criminal. But it is light years away from racism and apartheid.”
He also indirectly refuted comments by Israel Defense Forces Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan at the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day Wednesday evening. In a speech for the holiday, Golan seemed to draw comparisons between what is happening now in Israel and pre-Holocaust Germany. Golan later walked back the comments.
“Really, truly, there is no connection whatsoever between negative phenomena that occur today in Israel – and which, it seems, the deputy chief of staff referred to – and the Holocaust and its lessons,” Smotrich wrote.