HomeWorld NewsPatriots or traitors? Israel’s politicians spar over Netanyahu comments – The Jerusalem Post
Patriots or traitors? Israel’s politicians spar over Netanyahu comments – The Jerusalem Post
September 18, 2023
Israel’s politicians faced off on Monday morning in an argument over whether Israelis protesting against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the US during his trips are enemies of the state or patriots abroad.
Prior to boarding the plane, Netanyahu said that these were “protests against Israel that join Iran and the Palestinian Liberation organization.” His office later released a clarification saying that he was referring to the fact that “while Israel’s prime minister will represent the State of Israel in the UN, Israeli citizens will protest alongside PLO and BDS supporters.”
“Once we had [respect for the] state,” he said. “It was clear that we could argue and protest at home, but when the prime minister goes on a trip to represent Israel abroad, everyone backs him up. The protesters abroad are indeed BDS activists who harm Israel, and the support they get from [Benny] Gantz and [Yair] Lapid proves that they have crossed all the red lines.”
Likud MK Tally Gotliv also backed up the prime minister’s statement and criticized his office for the clarification.
“What are you apologizing for?” she said. “Finally, Prime Minister Netanyahu tells the protesters, who are destroying the nation from the inside out, the truth to their faces, and you hasten to release caressing explanations? Netanyahu doesn’t need you to explain him.”
The protesters’ motives
Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi told 103FM that he didn’t know what the protesters’ motives were.
“Are they against Netanyahu? For Iran?” he asked. “We’re worried about the security situation. A multi-front war is imminent, and you see that what interests them is only to make Netanyahu fail and go home, so they have become just like our enemies.”
Likud MK Boaz Bismuth added that he doesn’t consider the protesters to be his people.
On the other side, MKs from the opposition condemned these comments, saying that the protesters were patriots and not enemies.
National Unity leader Benny Gantz, who had earlier wished Netanyahu luck on his trip and had pledged support from the opposition on “anything related to the nation’s security and strategic interests,” strongly condemned Netanyahu’s comment.
“Netanyahu’s attack while accusing protesters in the US of joining our enemies, is severe and must be condemned,” he said. “Even if you don’t agree with the method, these are patriots who love the country. Even 1,000 flame-carving speeches at the UN cannot repair the great damage Netanyahu has done to Israeli society. It’s time to stop the judicial overhaul and restore order to the government instead of blaming protesters.”
Opposition leader Yair Lapid aimed the same accusation at Netanyahu’s government.
“No one has destroyed our image to the world more than Netanyahu in the last few months,” he said. “Nothing helps the Iranians more than his government’s judicial overhaul. His accusations against the protest’s patriots are further proof of the severe confusion in his common sense and ability to read reality.”
“He who cooperates with supporters of Jewish terrorism compares pilots and hi-tech people to PLO and Iran,” said Yesh Atid MK Michal Shir. “Netanyahu is a clear and present danger to Israel’s existence. It wasn’t protesters who called [former Palestinian Authority president Yasser] Arafat a friend and partner, it wasn’t them who funded Hamas, and it isn’t them crushing Israel. Netanyahu is the best partner for Israel’s haters. He’s doing their work for them.”