Science Minister demands clearer apology from IDF dept. chief

Israeli Minister of Science Ofer Akunis says Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan must issue a clearer apology for Holocaust remarks.

Contact Editor
Tal Polon,

Ofir Akunis
Ofir Akunis
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Israeli Minister of Science Ofer Akunis demanded a clearer apology from IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan regarding comments he made on Holocaust Remembrance Day that implicitly compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

"Golan is a valued military official, but his comments are pathetic and cause great damage to Israel's image around the world," Akunis said.

Akunis noted that the "explanation" that Golan subsequently gave of his words was not enough, and that "a clear apology and denunciation of the terrifying comparisons is required."

If anything, the minister noted, it is the contemporary anti-Israel movement which can be most closely compared to anti-Jewish trends in 1930s Germany.

"If there's room for comparison between Nazi Germany and the present day, then it is in the increasing anti-Semitism, labeling of Jewish products and sanctions against the Israel. That's what was in Nazi Germany and that's what we're seeing now. Too bad that Golan decided to skip over this comparison," Akunis fired.

On Israeli Holocaust remembrance day, Golan indicated in a speech that processes that had happened in Nazi Germany could be observed "here, in our midst, today in 2016."

The comments caused an uproar among Israeli politicians, with MK Betzalel Smotrich writing following the comments: "What scares me are baseless and distorted comparisons in the name of the Holocaust, especially when they come from important people such as the Deputy Chief of Staff.” 

“What ‘similar’ phenomena does he recognizes among us?! Is anybody here setting up gas chambers and seeking to destroy another nation just because it’s different?! Are you out of your mind?!” he asked.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett also criticized Golan: “Before the Holocaust deniers flag those bad words. Before our soldiers will be compared to Nazis. The Deputy Chief of Staff made a mistake and must correct it immediately.”

Golan later backtracked on his comments, saying that "it was never my intention to make such a comparison or to make criticisms of the political leadership. The IDF is a moral army that maintains a purity of arms and respects human dignity.”