Secular-hareidi tensions hit the boiling point this week in a furious round of insults over the death of Israeli author Yoram Kaniuk. A secular radio broadcaster called hareidi-religious MK Yisrael Eichler (Yahadut Hatorah) a “parasite” and worse after Eichler questioned praise for the deceased author.
Eichler has filed a complaint with police accusing broadcaster Natan Zehavi of incitement.
The story began Saturday with the death of Kaniuk, one of Israel’s leading secular writers. Kaniuk, 83, had switched his religious status from “Jewish” to “no religion” as a show of solidarity with his non-Jewish child and grandchild.
Minister of Culture LImor Livnat eulogized Kaniuk. On Monday Eichler criticized her eulogy, arguing that Kaniuk’s disassociation from Judaism meant he should not be praised by Israeli leaders.
“When I hear that someone died who hated Judaism, who declared that he wanted to be ‘no religion,’ who married a non-Jewish woman… And when he dies, the Culture Minister representing the traditional Likud, whose voters are all or almost all believing Jews, comes and gives a big eulogy for this dead man who hated Jews. It’s unbelievable, is this Jewish culture?... Is this the state of Israel?” Lipman argued from the Knesset podium.
Radio commenter Zehavi was infuriated by Eichler’s remarks.
“Yoram Kaniuk was a great man, not a zero like you!” he said, lashing out at Eichler. “He is a giant! You are a cultural dwarf, a creature with no backbone, a parasite, contemptible, a hater of Israel – not of Judaism, of the people of Israel!”
“Why don’t you go away, to America?” he added. Zehavi also used popular curse words to refer to Eichler.
He then turned his attention to the rest of Knesset. “Where were all the Members of Knesset when this Eichler opened his dirty mouth to blaspheme and spew his filth? When Eichler dies, what will be left of you? What mark will you leave on Israeli culture? What have you done? Nothing! Nada! Zip! Gurnisht!” he declared.
“This is how the Knesset looks… You aren’t even worth spitting on, you filth!”
Zehavi was previously taken to task by hareidi-religious MK Yaakov Litzman, then the deputy minister of Health, for saying, “Litzman’s tongue should be cut out” during a debate over doctors’ hours.