Daily Israel Report

Haaretz Editor Sorry for Calling Fallen Soldier 'Jihadist'

Haaretz assistant editor Uri Tuval apologizes for calling a fallen soldier and his family “jihadist fascists.”
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/11/2010, 9:25 PM / Last Update: 4/11/2010, 9:53 PM

The assistant editor of Haaretz's weekly supplement, Uri Tuval, has written a letter of apology to the Peretz family, days after calling fallen soldier Eliraz Peretz and his relatives “jihadist fascists.” Tuval's remarks, made in the course of a discussion on the social networking site Facebook, were widely published and led to harsh criticism of the editor.

Tuval had written, “I don't want to live in the country of Eliraz Peretz or his mother. My condolences to the family, a family of jihadist fascists.. I can't bear that mantra: 'the People of Israel – the Land of Israel – the Defense Forces of Israel – the children of Israel – the Sanctification of G-d's name'... I don't want an army that G-d loves.”

His remarks were apparently a response to statements made by Miriam Peretz, the mother of Eliraz. Miriam, who previously lost another son, Uriel, in war, said, “G-d loves Sayeret Golani... He loves those fighters very much, and he loves my Eliraz very much. I say simply, he was a true hero... He didn't go in order to die, but in order that I and the entire nation of Israel could live here safely.”

Tuval's letter of apology was as follows:

Dear Miriam,
I wish to apologize from the depths of my heart for the hurt I caused you, and the insult to your son Eliraz's memory, with what I wrote on my Facebook page. I chose to express myself using extreme terms, which were inappropriate and did not accurately reflect my views. If I could turn back time, I would not have written those things.

In recent days I have been harshly condemned for what I said. The condemnations are unpleasant, but I can deal with them. But the hurt I caused to you and your family greatly pains me, and causes me true suffering.

I would never have deliberately publicized something that would hurt you and your family, particularly not at this difficult time. My family has suffered bereavement as well. My father, an artillery captain, was killed in the Yom Kippur war. My grandmother's brother was killed in the War of Independence. I know that there is no comfort, that Eliraz's absence will continue to hurt, and that it will always have an impact. It will reverberate in the things that look the most simple, the everyday things, the things that seem as if they shouldn't be painful.

I learned from the many articles about Eliraz that he was the backbone of your family, a man with true strength of spirit, both on the battlefield and in civilian life. I can't even begin to imagine what a mother feels like after losing such a precious son, after she lost her firstborn son as well.

I do not disagree with you that our people has only one home, and that without it we have no purpose. We agree that military service and national defense are among the foremost obligations. I myself am a reserve captain with an Intelligence unit. During the Second Lebanon War I was with Golani, under 'Katyusha' and mortar fire along the northern border. Who knows, perhaps Eliraz and I passed by each other, maybe we exchanged a few words. I do not disagree with you that if it weren't for people like Eliraz and Uriel, if we did not have an army, nothing could exist here.

We seem to disagree over the best way in which to build our national home. But I never meant to argue with you, and I did not intend to insult you. I chose to state my personal opinion on the reality we face in a provocative manner, on a forum that I viewed as private. It was inappropriate, and it caused my opinions and views to be misunderstood, and that was insensitive to your pain.

I am very sorry over what happened.

My deep and sincere condolences to you, to Shlomit, to Eliraz and Shlomit's children, and to your entire family,

Uri Tuval.