Erdan on LGBT, Duma attacks: Slamming political rivals isn't the way to bring change

Left-wing MKs say Right should take responsibility for the crimes, not just criticize them.

August 4, 2015 15:29
Gilad Erdan

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

A discussion of last week's attacks on the Jerusalem LGBT parade and Palestinian homes in Duma grew heated in the Knesset Wednesday, with left-wing MKs calling for the Right to take responsibility and right-wing MKs saying they are not to blame.

MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) opened the discussion: "For a moment, it seemed that everyone was shocked together and that we would understand we need serious self-examination...but then came the after-shock.

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"I hear voices from [the Right] that say they feel like they did after [former prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin was assassinated," she stated. "We will not let you ignore us, blame us and turn yourselves into victims. It's easy to say this is a fringe phenomenon; I don't accept that."

According to Livni, the line between the fringes and the mainstream blurred because of a lack of leadership by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who allowed it to happen.

"I will not cooperate with this victimhood. The victim is Shira Banki who was murdered at the parade and not someone who wasn't allowed to speak at a demonstration," she added, in reference to Education Minister Naftali Bennett who was banned from an LGBT rally Saturday night.

Livni proposed that the Knesset pass "Shira's Law" - immediately approving LGBT unions.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid pointed out that the vast majority of the coalition's seats in the plenum were empty for the discussion saying that those who were absent were running away from responsibility, because they're worried taking part will hurt them in the next party primary.

Shas and UTJ, the only coalition parties that had zero lawmakers present at any time in the meeting, do not hold primaries, though Bayit Yehudi does and their only MK there was Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel - elected by the Tekuma central committee - who left after a few minutes.

"We cannot stand silent in the face of the leadership vacuum that allowed violence to happen last weekend. The government and the Knesset are not an empty chair. They must stand up against the forces of evil," Lapid stated.

MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union) was brought to tears during his speech, in which he talked about raising three children in Jerusalem during the intifada. He quoted Psalms in a warning to right-wing MKs who he said have created an atmosphere that legitimizes racism and incitement: "Who is the man who wants life?...Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from fraud. Stay away from evil and do good; ask for peace and pursue it."

MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) said Ali Dawabshe, the baby who was burned alive in the firebombing attack, was "murdered at the hands of right-wing fascists who plan day and night to harm Palestinians, but the matches...were given to them by the occupation policy."

The Joint List MK expanded the blame for the attack in Duma to the entire State of Israel and all its institutions, calling it an apartheid state, and did not mention the stabbing at the parade at all.

Meretz lawmaker Esawi Frej said that deadly racism against Arabs has become legitimate, and now it has moved to the entire Left.

"People keep talking about a small group, but now that group has become the majority, the mainstream. The prime minister is responsible, and in my eyes, this is mostly his fault," Frej stated.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan responded, representing the government, and was met with loud shouts from Meretz MKs.

"We as a society must do soul-searching and think about how to encourage more tolerance and restraint and how we can all improve as a society and a country," Erdan said. "In a place where books - or a bilingual school or a church - people will be burned."

Erdan said it is foremost the government's responsibility to try to prevent the next incident and exhaust all legal tools it has to be more proactive, put the murderers on trial and make sure they are punished to the full extent of the law.

Of the Right, Erdan said "the political camp that I am part of also needs to find ways to fix and improve and make sure there are no such people among us."

However, Erdan told those who spoke before him that he thinks they did not react in the right way to the attacks.

"To say this isn't a minority, to try to hunt down the opposing political camp is not what will bring a change. I heard statements here that simply ignore reality," he added, calling the Left hypocritical.

"You are apathetic time and again when Molotov cocktails are thrown at settlers. When did any of you last demand that those throw throw firebombs in east Jerusalem or Route 443 every day be arrested?" Erdan asked. "MK Frej, when you visited [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] did you ask him why he pays terrorists who were proven to have killed innocent families? I don't remember any of you being shocked at an atmosphere of incitement and encouragement of terrorism against settlers like there was when people blamed the kidnapping of the three teens [last summer] on the fact that they hitchhiked or lived in settlements."

Erdan's speech was peppered with shouts from Meretz MKs Tamar Zandberg, Ilan Gilon and Frej of "shame on you."

"You can't handle the truth," MK Oren Hazan (Likud) shouted at the Meretz legislators.

"Shut up," was Gilon's response.

Erdan told the Meretz MKs that laws can be changed but the immediate thing politicians can do is set an example.

"What I have done here is put a mirror in front of you and showed you what you did earlier. I'm glad to see that this annoyed you, because that is exactly what you did to earn political points by only blaming the other side," he said.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) said the government's policies politically back the arsonists.

"He who says Arabs are flowing to the voting booths knows that he is considering the Palestinians to be a lowlier breed, which means they are not human, and are worthy of being burned," he stated.

Tibi compared the attack to Kristallnacht and called its perpetrators "neo-Nazis living in settlements."

Hazan interrupted, shouting that Tibi used to be an advisor to an arch-terrorist, Yasser Arafat, and when he took the stand, he accused Tibi of cheapening the memory of the Holocaust.

"When MKs from the Left say these extremists are part of the Right, they are the ones legitimizing them, instead of saying they are outside of either camp," Hazan said. "There are MKs sitting here who don't blink an eye at the rivers of Jewish blood that was shed...I didn't see Tzipi Livni criticize the incitement against the prime minister through [doctored] photos of him in Nazi uniforms or the incitement we heard here."

Hazan added: "We didn't kill Rabin, we didn't stab Shira and we didn't burn Ali...We will not take responsibility for actions that we didn't take. We will reject and criticize them, just like we criticize you for spewing hate time after time."

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