Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
MK Avigdor Liberman apologized on Thursday evening for saying that “anyone who thinks going back to the ‘67 borders would solve the dispute has autism,” in a radio interview earlier that day.
“Of course I didn’t mean in any way to offend autistic people, but wanted to illustrate the unwillingness of some people to accept certain realities about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I apologize if anyone was hurt,” said Liberman.
His original statement was reported as part of his discussion surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to sit down and talk with MK Ayman Odeh
, head of the Joint List.
The apology came after the Ruderman Family Foundation, a nonpartisan organization working to strengthen the relationship between Israelis and American Jews and the inclusion of people with disabilities in the broader society, spoke out against his statement.
“I call on MK Avigdor Liberman to apologize for using the term ‘autistic’ as an insult directed at Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the foundation.
“Millions of people around the world and thousands of people in Israel are autistic.
By using the word ‘autistic’ as an insult, MK Liberman has deeply hurt the autism community.
The term for a disability should never be used in a crude and derogatory manner.”
Ruderman asked how Liberman would feel if he himself was the father to an autistic child and his child had heard a public figure using autism as an insult against an adversary.
After Liberman’s apology, the Ruderman Family Foundation acknowledged his redress.
“We hope this was a teaching moment for MK Liberman that it is highly inappropriate to use a disability in a derogatory manner,” said Ruderman.
“We are gratified that he has publicly apologized and distanced himself from the remark."