Israeli journalist calls religious Zionists more dangerous than Hezbollah

Defense Minister Liberman called for a boycott against Haaretz, Israel's sixth-largest Hebrew daily newspaper.

April 13, 2017 16:46
2 minute read.
hezbollah rockets

Hezbollah members carry mock rockets next to a poster of the group's leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah [FIle]. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the left-wing Haaretz newspaper on Thursday for running an op-ed article saying religious Zionists are “more dangerous than Hezbollah, hit-and-run drivers, or girls with scissors.”

The article by veteran journalist Yossi Klein accused religious Zionists of wanting to cleanse Israel of Arabs and take over the country.

Haaretz has long been a platform for haters of Israel, but printing the article by Yossi Klein, a frustrated, irrelevant journalist who failed as an editor, crosses all redlines,” said Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.

President Reuven Rivlin said Klein’s words were “slander that reveals deep hatred.” He said religious Zionism is better and more deeply rooted than all its critics.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the article “shameful and delusional.” He said the newspaper had “lost it completely,” while religious Zionists are “the salt of the Earth” and serve Israel in the IDF and national service.

It was not the first time Netanyahu has blasted Haaretz. In January 2012, he was quoted saying that Israel’s two main enemies were The New York Times and Haaretz.

Liberman called upon the citizens of Israel to immediately stop purchasing and reading Haaretz, which has dropped in circulation in recent years, becoming Israel’s sixth-largest circulation Hebrew daily after Israel Hayom, Yediot Aharonot, Calcalist, Maariv and Globes, according to TGI ratings that were printed in Haaretz.

Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid mocked Liberman, noting that in April 2016, he promised that he would assassinate Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh within 48 hours if Haniyeh did not return the bodies of Israeli soldiers. Haniyeh is alive and well and recently was promoted, but the bodies have not been returned.

“If we can learn from the dramatic advancement of Ismail Haniyeh since the false threats of Liberman, we can soon expect a rise in subscriptions to Haaretz,” Ravid wrote on Twitter, advising the defense minister to “continue.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called on Klein to apologize, as did Hagit Rein, mother of Bnaya Rein, a religious Zionist IDF soldier who was killed by Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War. But Klein defended his opinion in an Army Radio interview, saying that they were his views and not those of the newspaper.

Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken said he could not understand the reactions to the article. He called the reactions “poisonous.”

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