A settler video that compared Europe to Nazi Germany and left-wing Israelis to collaborators by using traditional anti-Semitic imagery of gold coins and hooked noses sent shock waves throughout the country on Sunday.
At the end of the video, called the Eternal Jew, the leftwing Israeli who acted as a collaborator commits suicide.
In the final shot, he can be seen hanging from a tree. The text next to him states: “The Europeans may seem different to you, but to them, you are exactly the same.”
Left- and right-wing politicians – including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and prominent settler leaders – condemned the two-minute animated video published by the grass roots Samaria Citizens Committee on YouTube Saturday night.
“This ugly incitement was produced by people so stricken with racial hatred that they have gone out of their minds,” Meretz party leader MK Zehava Gal-On said on Sunday.
The video targeted left-wing Israeli nongovernmental groups, but politicians immediately linked the video to the election and its escalating negative rhetoric.
Netanyahu said he opposed any comparison between individuals and organizations with Nazi Germany, and condemned any such use for the purposes of the elections.
The parties and their candidates must behave in a fair and appropriate manner, he said, adding that the focus should be on essential issues of existence and not on propaganda that “violates the fundamental values of our people.”
The Samaria Citizens Committee struck a particular nerve because it is widely believed that venomous attacks against former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the 1993 Oslo Accords helped create a hostile climate that led to his assassination, including posters in which Rabin was depicted wearing a Nazi uniform.
In spite of Netanyahu’s words, left-wing politicians criticized a campaign video his party published on Saturday that showed actors dressed as Islamic State fighters heading “left” to conquer Jerusalem, which they said was equally inciting.
Meretz asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to probe the Likud and the Samaria Citizens Committee for incitement.
Meretz Youth leader Tomer Reznik, meanwhile, filed a complaint with the police against Likud and the Samaria Citizens’ Committee over the videos.
“Twenty years after Rabin’s murder nothing has changed,” Gal-On said. “Back then, they dressed Rabin in an SS uniform and today the leftwing is drawn in Nazi images.
“The same prime minister that was silent when coffins were used in right-wing demonstrations, has now released a video with the lowest form of incitement,” she said.
The Samaria Citizens Committee video featured a man with a German accept named Mr. Sturmer, whose face is hidden by a newspaper called The Left with a headline that calls for boycott of Israel.
His name, together with the shot of the newspaper, is a reference to a German Nazi weekly called Der Sturmer.
Through an intercom on his desk, a receptionist informs him that “The Jew is here.”
A man, who is supposed to illustrate an Israeli, enters the room. He has a long, hooked nose, often associated with anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews, and, in exchange for gold coins, performs each task that Mr. Sturmer requests until all that is left is for him to commit suicide.
Samaria Citizens Committee Chairman Benny Katzover defended the video, which he said was intentionally designed to shock the viewers into understanding the danger that faces Israel.
Some of the initial ideas that used more drastic imagery were rejected, he said.
His organization wanted the video to focus attention on anti-Semitic groups in Europe that are exploiting left-wing Israeli groups and individuals to discredit and delegitimize Israel.
“I did not create this kind of anti-Semitism, they [the European groups] did,” Katzover said, although he did not provide names of the anti-Semitic groups in question.
The video, he said, holds a mirror up to the Left. “They are upset because they do not like what they look like in the mirror,” he said.
The Israeli public, he added, has a hard time pointing an accusing finger at the Left, and so the video makes them uneasy.
The Samaria Citizens Committee is a grassroots organization that is loosely association with the Samaria Regional Council, but the council, settler leaders and right-wing politicians disavowed the video, even though they believe left-wing groups are harming Israel.
David Ha’Ivri, who founded the Shomron Liaison Office, said on Twitter, the video “released today was in bad taste (and poorly done). Would be best to make it go away.”
The former head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria Dani Dayan said that while the Likud video was legitimate, he opposed the Samaria Citizens Committee clip and added that they did not represent him even though he lived in their region.
Yigal Dilmoni, the deputy head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, said the anti-Semitic imagery was “terrible” and that, unfortunately, all that people “will remember of the video is the outcry and not the message.”
Economic Affairs Minister and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett said he opposed the use of Nazi imagery, even as he endorsed the clip’s underlying message.
“I think this video is not appropriate. The content, by the way, is quite correct. Europe is funding left-wing organizations that harm IDF soldiers, that’s a fact. We have to take care of it with legal tools,” he said at a Google event on transparency in Tel Aviv.Niv Elis contributed to this report.