Yehonatan Geffen in trouble again

Israeli poet says in a television interview that he understands Palestinians who become martyrs, continues to praise Ahed Tamimi.

Ben Ariel ,

Yehonatan Geffen
Yehonatan Geffen
Tomer Neuberg/Flash 90

Israeli poet Yehonatan Geffen caused a new firestorm on Wednesday after he said in an interview with Hadashot TV that he understands people who become “shaheeds” (martyrs in Arabic).

"If for 50 years, every day, they would knock on my door and enter my home with an Uzi, if my children were arrested on a daily basis...I can understand them...the first suicide terrorist was a Jew and he was Samson the hero. I don’t know how crazy you can get when you’ve been a refugee for 50 years," Geffen claimed.

He also discussed the arrest of Ahed Tamimi, the Palestinian Arab teen who was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier. Geffen in the past expressed solidarity with Tamimi and was subsequently forced to apologize.

"She deserves great respect. If he was wise, and if Netanyahu indeed wanted peace, he would say, 'I have an appreciation for this girl, who bravely slapped a soldier’. I personally am against slapping soldiers," said Geffen.

In January, Geffen caused an uproar when he published a poem on his Instagram account glorifying Tamimi.

Geffen compared Tamimi to heroic victims of oppression throughout the generations, from David against Goliath to Hannah Szenes, who courageously parachuted into Europe to rescue Jews during the Holocaust and was later tortured and murdered by the Nazis, and Anne Frank, famous teenage diarist, murdered in the Holocaust.

Following the publication of the poem, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered Army Radio not to play songs written by Geffen or to interview him, though Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit later stated that Liberman does not have the authority to issue such an order.

In a subsequent apology, Geffen said, “The very fact that I brought Anne Frank and Hannah Szenes into this story was a mistake, and I apologize for it with all my heart.”

In response to Geffen’s apology, Liberman tweeted a saying found in the biblical book Proverbs, “He who expresses remorse will be forgiven.”