Netanyahu in the Knesset Plenum, today
Netanyahu in the Knesset Plenum, today Photo: Kobi Gideon

The Knesset plenum hosted an event marking the anniversary of the death of Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky today (Wednesday), resulting in passionate arguments between the participants.

Jabotinsky was the leader of what was know as the "revisionist" movement in early Zionism, which is seen as the forerunner of the right wing in Israeli politics.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu caused a commotion when he said in his speech that promoting competition in media and broadcasting is in the spirit of Jabotinsky's legacy.

"The tradition of besmirching Jabotinsky's name continues until today," said Netanyahu, "from the day that the Likud took power we've been working to open everything to competition and I think that's the air that democracy breathes. It's the same in media. When everything is opened to competition it's good for the public and the rights of the citizens.

"There well be public broadcasting, that's already been settled. In Yediot Aharonot [newspaper] the cat's out of the bag. They have one senior analyst who writes there almost exclusively and he says 'leave public broadcasting alone', the real intent is to allow competition in the market."

"In the US, in France, and in Britain there are newspapers who control one point of view and newspapers who control another point of view and no one calls that taking control of the media," Netanyahu reminded.

The Prime Minister added that he always favors competition and does not apologize for it. "We need to allow competition in the public discourse and in the media. Let the nation vote in the voting booth, and let the nation vote with the remote control. That's Jabotinsky's philosophy," ended Netanyahu over the interruptions from the Opposition members.

Opposition leader Yitzchak Herzog went up to the speakers podium to answer the Prime Minister: "We need many more Jabotinskys who will understand like he did that in Israel there will always be two nations, not leaders who think that the Arabs 'go in droves,' " Herzog said, referring to Netanyahu's statement on election day that the Arabs were going out to vote "in droves."

"We need honest and brave leadership who know how to tell the truth like Jabotinsky did. We need Jabotinskys specifically in his political camp in Israel, people who won't incite against the Arab minority, who won't violate the equality of its rights, and who won't try to oppress or expel it," Herzog added.

Herzog also earned loud interruptions from the Likud MKs in attendance when he accused the ruling party of straying off Jabotinsky's path. "These are the seeds of Fascism that are growing slowly but surely. Where are all the Jabotinskyites who believe that the state shouldn't be put above all? You glorify the name of Jabotinsky but violate his legacy. We are actually the ones who are protecting it from those who claim to be his ideological descendants."