Arab Meretz MK compares Trump and Regev to Nazis

Holocaust survivors walk out as MK Esawi Frej compares between Nazi Germany and statements made by Trump and Israeli Culture Minister.

Elad Benari ,

Esawi Frej
Esawi Frej
Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash 90

MK Esawi Frej (Meretz) caused an uproar in the Knesset on Tuesday, when he compared between Nazi Germany and statements made by U.S. President Donald Trump and Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud).

The comments by Frej, an Israeli Arab MK, came during a Knesset session marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was attended by Holocaust survivors. Some of them, outraged by the audacity of Frej’s remarks, got up and left the plenum in protest.

In his remarks, Frej spoke of the day in 1933 on which Adolf Hitler was sworn in as German Chancellor, then added, "Unfortunately there are too many similarities between Germany of 1933 and 2017 in many places, and not too far away in neighboring Syria.”

“’Germany above all’, this was the slogan of the Nazis. ‘One state and one Führer,’ the Nazis would call out. Today these slogans are repeated by Trump in the U.S. or even here, by Miri Regev," he continued.

As he made these comments, MKs Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) and Oren Hazan (Likud) shouted out in protest and were ejected from the plenum.

Frej then turned to the Holocaust survivors in attendance and said, "If my words hurt someone's feelings here, I apologize, but I do not think I crossed red lines. I repeat again, we must internalize the lessons of the Holocaust. If we do not internalize these lessons, then we did nothing. If there had been no racism there would have been no Holocaust. That’s the message I wanted to convey.”

Frej later sought to clarify his remarks and said, "I wanted to convey the message that we must remember not only the victims of the Holocaust, but also the lessons...the fight against racism and nationalism is a central lesson that sometimes I have the feeling that our leaders have forgotten. It is strange that this statement was met with populist criticism from none other than MK Forer, whose party chairman [Avigdor] Liberman called ‘to judge Arab MKs like in Nuremberg’, as if we were Nazi murderers.”

Responding to Frej’s remarks on behalf of the government was Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who said, “The storm that occurred here describes the outrage over the fact that in addition to the difficult phenomenon of Holocaust denial, there is also the serious phenomenon of disrespect for the Holocaust."