Journalist Sorry for Telling Minister to ‘Go Back to Russia’
A journalist has apologized after an email exchange in which he said that Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein should “go back to Russia.” Edelstein was born in Ukraine, and was imprisoned by the Soviet Union for encouraging Hebrew learning and aliyah (immigration to Israel).
The argument began when staff in Edelstein’s office sent out an email with Edelstein’s position regarding the Jewish community of Migron. Edelstein has expressed unequivocal support for Migron and other Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.
Haaretz journalist Amiram Cohen, a writer for finance page The Marker, wrote back, “The minister’s message is an unprecedented outrage.”
Edelstein advisor Eran Sidis replied, “You were annoyed, huh?” To which Cohen responded, “It’s a shame for a small, extremist minister to add his opinion. He should go back to Russia, that’s where he belongs.”
Sidis wrote to The Marker to express his outrage at Cohen’s remarks. “The minister and I found them extremely hurtful to the entire community of immigrants from the Soviet Union, a community which the minister comes from, and part of which he has represented faithfully for 16 years as a Member of Knesset and minister,” he said.
“I would like to know,” Sidis continued, “If you as editor, if the owners of the paper and its many readers – some of them from the Soviet Union – share Mr. Cohen’s approach, according to which a prisoner of Zion who was in Soviet prison for three years doing hard labor until he was on death’s door due to his desire to immigrate to Israel should ‘go back to Russia’ because he supports Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria and opposes a Supreme Court ruling?”
Cohen told Arutz Sheva that he had been offended by a statement Edelstein made terming a Supreme Court ruling “an outrage.”
“A minister, a representative of the public, whatever his opinion of a court’s verdict may be, must not use such expressions regarding judges in the highest court of justice in the state of Israel, or judges in general,” he said. “I see his message as dangerous incitement against Israeli judges.”
However, Cohen said, “When it comes to what I said regarding Minister Edelstein’s land of birth, I apologized, and I sincerely rescind the expression, ‘He should go back to Russia, that’s where he belongs.’ I apologize to Minister Edelstein for writing such inappropriate things in the heat of the argument. I do not think that the minister belongs in Russia, he belongs here in Israel.”
Immigration from Russia “gave an unprecedented boost to progress on Israel, in every field,” Cohen added.