Liberman to Netanyahu: Don't preach to me

Former DM says PM who gave Hevron to the PA should not lecture him on criticism of religious Zionist institutions.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Gilad Kavalerchik

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman responded Tuesday to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who criticized Liberman for "slandering" the religious Zionist community and the religious pre-military academies during the Herzliya Conference.

"Mr. Prime Minister, you are the last one who should teach me and preach to me about religious Zionism," Liberman said.

"It is you, Mr. Prime Minister, who made the decision to transfer Hevron to the Palestinians. It is you, Mr. Prime Minister, who conducted negotiations with Arafat at the Wye Plantation. It is you, Mr. Prime Minister, who voted in favor of the disengagement in the Knesset. You are paying compensation fees to a terrorist organization Hamas," he added.

"A little modesty will not hurt you," Liberman concluded.

Netanyahu said earlier that "Religious Zionism is the salt of the earth and has a tremendous contribution to the IDF and the State of Israel. Among the graduates of religious preparatory programs and religious Zionism are the late Roi Klein, Uriel and Eliraz Peretz, the late Dror Weinberg and many fighters and commanders who gave their lives for the sake of Israel's security ... Anyone who attacks Israel's heroes just to get a few votes should be ashamed."

The prime minister issued his statement in response to Liberman's address to the 2019 Herzliya Conference Tuesday morning, where Liberman blasted the Religious Zionist establishment – targeting its political leaders, rabbis, and army prep schools.

“What is happening to Religious Zionism is a Greek tragedy. I was friendly with Zevulun Hammer and Yitzhak Levy,” said Liberman, referring to lawmakers for the Jewish Home’s forerunner, the National Religious Party.

“But now the historic National Religious Party has nothing in common with the Jewish Home or National Union – no connection between Zevulun Hammer and Bezalel Smotrich.”

Liberman blamed the change on the “take-over by a small group of fanatical haredi-Religious Zionists [Hardal].”

“I hope it will end,” continued Liberman, expressing hope for a return to the pre-Jewish Home days of the National Religious Party. “I want to see the historic National Religious Party, not the National Haredi-Religious Party.”

Turning to Religious Zionist pre-army preparatory schools, Liberman accused Religious Zionist rabbis of using the schools to form “private militias”.

“The preparatory academies are developing in the direction of private militias, a kind of Falange,” referencing the right-wing Spanish Falangist movement, and the Lebanese Phalange paramilitary group.

“I asked students at an army prep academy what they would do if they received an order from their commander, but their rabbi told them to do the opposite. I was shocked to see that most of them took 30 to 40 seconds to think about it. Most of them said they would obey their orders. But some said explicitly: ‘I won’t go against the rabbi’s instructions’.”