MK decries media coverage of 'Sternhell Festival'

Lawmakers feud over who should be blamed for bomb attack on left-wing professor.

October 2, 2008 23:16
2 minute read.
MK decries media coverage of 'Sternhell Festival'

zeev sternhell 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A tempest broke out in the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee on Thursday morning after MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) described the media coverage of the pipe bomb attack on Israel Prize laureate Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell last week as "Sternhell's Festival." "I want to condemn the 'Sternhell's Festival' that has been celebrated over the past 10 days - and you are heading it," Rotem told committee chairman Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor). Paz-Pines called on Rotem to retract his statement, but Rotem reiterated that automatically attributing the attack to the Right slandered an entire sector of the population. Sternhell, a political scientist from the Hebrew University known for his vocal criticisms of the settler movement and IDF actions in the West Bank, was lightly wounded when the bomb exploded outside his Jerusalem home on September 25. Fliers offering a NIS 1.1 million reward for killing anyone associated with Peace Now were found near his home after the attack. "Describing this attempt to assassinate Prof. Sternhell as a 'festival' is just like saying that [prime minister Yitzhak] Rabin was not murdered - he killed himself," MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) told Rotem. "Let's stop pretending. The decision to harm Prof. Sternhell came out of political motivations. It is safe to assume that no young member of Hashomer Hatza'ir [a Zionist-socialist youth movement] in Karmiel committed this murder attempt," Beilin said. "I am not afraid of using the word 'festival,' because you are trying to put the blame on the right wing and the settlers, and by that you are throwing stones at a public that serves the country. I am a settler, but I don't want anyone to raise a hand against Prof. Sternhell," said Rotem, who lives in Efrat, in Gush Etzion. "Surely you thought it over before you said that, and you probably thought this kind of remark would create a scandal," Beilin said. Most of the lawmakers present had something to say: "MK Rotem demonstrates a double standard when he condemns the attempt to murder Prof. Sternhell and at the same time uses the word 'festival,'" Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said. Some suggested that introspection was in order with Yom Kippur just around the corner. "The entire political system needs to examine its actions, but you need to do it first," MK Dov Henin (Hadash) told Rotem. "As long as the case is unsolved it is wrong to point a finger at an entire group," said MK Effi Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party). "We need to find a way to discuss such issues within Israeli society, and the self-examination should be performed both by the left wing and the right wing. There is no escape from talking."

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