The storm over IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan’s comments on Holocaust Remembrance Day continued on Sunday, when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used his opening statement during the weekly cabinet meeting to condemn Golan’s apparent comparison of Israel to pre-war Europe.
Last Wednesday night, speaking at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, Golan appeared to draw direct comparisons between Israel and pre-war Germany.
"If there is something that scares me about the memory of the Holocaust,” said Golan, “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."
Golan later backtracked, claiming that his comments were not meant to compare the present political situation in Israel to pre-Holocaust Germany.
While the controversial comments drew fire from many within the nationalist camp, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon defended Golan, arguing that criticism aimed at him was part of a larger “campaign to harm the IDF and its officers politically.”
“The responsibilities of an army officer, especially a senior commander, are not limited to leading soldiers out to war, but also include charting out a path and ethical standards with the help of [his] moral compass,” said Yaalon.
Hours later Netanyahu reportedly called Yaalon, sharply criticizing him for defending Golan’s comments.
On Sunday, however, Netanyahu openly lambasted Golan for the comparison, a subtle jab at his Defense Minister’s support for Golan.
“The comparison, which came out of the Deputy Chief of Staff’s comments, to the trends that characterized Nazi Germany 80 years ago, is outrageous. They’re totally baseless. They should never have been said at any time, and certainly not at the time they were made [Holocaust Remembrance Day]. They harm Israeli society and cheapen the Holocaust.”
“The Deputy Chief of Staff is a fine officer with a great deal of merit, but his words in this regard are totally wrong and I utterly reject them.”