A resident wears an "Orlando Strong" T-shirt during a vigil at Lake Eola Park in Orlando..
(photo credit: STEVE NESIUS/REUTERS)
Faction meetings at the Knesset opened Monday with condolences to the victims of the murders in Orlando and Tel Aviv, and with politicians making comparisons between the two.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told his faction that what connected the four Israelis murdered at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv on Wednesday with the 49 members of the LGBT community who were murdered on Sunday in Orlando, was that in both cases, innocent people were murdered not because of something they did but because of who and what they are.
“We are in the midst of a global war,” Lapid said.
“On one side there are those who define themselves by hatred of the other, by murderous Islamist fanaticism, by the attempt to drag us back to the Middle Ages. On the other side is us, all those who define themselves by tolerance, acceptance of the other and the ability to live together with those whom we disagree with.
There is one thing you can’t be in this war and that’s neutral. Everyone must choose a side.”
After sending condolences to the Florida victims’ families, Lapid said the connection between Israel and the United States stemmed first and foremost from their shared values, and that the two countries were engaged in the same conflict.
“In this war against extremism and against hatred, we are on the same side,” said Lapid, who on Friday escorted ambassadors to visit the site of the Tel Aviv terrorist attack.
After offering his own condolences, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog used the attacks in Tel Aviv and Florida to criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
“I will not offer the American government any advice from here,” Herzog said. “I am leaving that task to Israel’s security leadership which always knows how to advise others, to write books, Facebook posts, and tweets on fighting terror. I have only one request from our leadership: start dealing with our terror.”
Saying it was time for Netanyahu and Liberman to prove that they can defeat terror, Herzog listed broken promises by Netanyahu and Liberman about how they would take action against terror, and dared them to complete the security fence in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
“I don’t think we are destined to face swords forever,” Herzog said. “Whoever is unable to change our reality – to fight for a better future for our citizens and the region and pay a personal price – is unfit to be a leader in Israel.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called his American counterpart, US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, to offer his condolences.
“Terror strikes everywhere, and it does not differentiate between Orlando and Tel Aviv,” Edelstein stated. “Unfortunately, the Israeli people know well the feeling of sadness and anguish caused by such events. We must join hands in the fight against global terrorism.”
Meretz MK Michal Rozin tried to explain the motives of the attackers in Tel Aviv and Orlando.
“Hatred prevents people from accepting the right of others to live their lives without regard to religion, race, gender, nationality, sexual preference or gender identity,” Rozin said.
“The hatred comes from fear of those who are different, and an inability to accept the other. All incidents of horrible murder encourage hatred and deepen fear. The fear is natural and clear, but it is important to remember that most humans are not racist and do not hate. We all have to try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other. Terror is terror. No motive can justify murdering innocents.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.