Israel’s Deputy Chief of Staff, General Yair Golan, walked back controversial comments made during an address at Wednesday night’s Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.
During his speech, Golan appeared to draw comparisons between modern-day Israel – and Nazi Germany.
“If there is something that scares me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is the identification of horrifying processes that occurred in Europe in general and Germany in particular - 70, 80 and 90 years ago - and finding evidence of them here among us, today, in 2016,” he said.
Golan’s comments sparked a wave of criticism, though some on the left, including Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog, expressed support for his statements.
“The Deputy Chief of Staff is a brave commander. Those disturbed people who are about to start screaming at him need to know: That’s how ethics and responsibility sound. We will not be afraid of shouting and of obscenities and will continue to back the IDF and its commanders. Always.”
On Thursday, however, Golan “clarified” his comments, noting that he never intended to compare Israel to pre-war Europe.
“The comparison is absurd and totally baseless,” he said, “and 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.”
On Wednesday, Golan called Holocaust Remembrance Day an opportunity for introspection.
“Nothing is easier than to hate those who are different, to fuel fears and intimidate. Nothing is easier than to brutalize, to become jaded and self-righteous. On Holocaust Remembrance Day we need to think about our own ability to uproot from within ourselves the budding signs of intolerance, signs of violence, and signs of self-destruction and moral decline.”