Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman criticized as a “slander campaign” a letter sent to him Monday by more than 100 bereaved families urging him not to appoint Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan as the next IDF chief of staff replacing Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot who is retiring January 1.
“Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan is an excellent officer and a courageous commander who dedicated his life to the security of the State of Israel,” Liberman said Monday, adding “the slander campaign against him in recent days is unworthy and will have no effect on the appointment of the [next] chief of staff.”
The IDF on Monday afternoon also came out in support of Golan, tweeting that “Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan has served in the IDF for 38 years in every field of battle, and his contribution to the security of Israel is great. Presenting Maj.-Gen. Golan as though he didn’t take action or won’t take action against terrorists does not match reality. Any attempt to sully the good name of an IDF commander and his operational contributions is unacceptable.”
The campaign run by the right-wing Im Tirzu organization cited several controversial statements made by Golan.
“From these statements, a disturbing picture emerges of a commander who is prepared to take unnecessary risks against the lives of our soldiers,” the families wrote in the letter
. “As parents, siblings, and spouses, these quotes are of great concern to us. A man to whom the blood of our children is cheap cannot protect and command them.”
The bereaved families cited a 2006 recording in which Golan attacked the IDF’s treatment of Palestinians.
“In the presence of civilians we take upon ourselves risks, and rightly so,” he was heard saying. “It’s unacceptable that in the name of preventing risk we would decide that now we are going to mow down an apartment building. You would kill women, children, those involved. It’s intolerable.”
Golan, who was then a commander in the Judea and Samaria Division, was later heard telling soldiers that not every suspicious Palestinian is a terrorist.
“Not in every combat situation are we all right-wing, are we all about to be slaughtered, and not every woman is hiding a terrorist behind her... I expect commanders to understand situations and take reasonable steps.”
Golan was also highly criticized after he compared current trends in Israeli society to those of pre-World War II Germany during a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in 2016.
“If there is something that frightens me in the memory of the Holocaust, it is identifying horrifying processes that occurred in Europe…70, 80 and 90 years ago and finding evidence of their existence here in our midst, today, in 2016,” he said during the ceremony at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
Liberman initiated the procedure to select Eisenkot’s replacement last week. Besides Golan, candidates include current deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, former Southern Command Chief Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, and the former head of the Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon.
Golan served as IDF Deputy Chief of General Staff from December 2014 until May 2017 when he was replaced by Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
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