rafi eitan 88 298.
(photo credit: AP)
It may have been his first speech in the Knesset Monday, but the plenum regarded MK Rafael Eitan with solemn respect as he spoke of the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann.
"I am still emotional thinking back on that day," Eitan said during a special Knesset session on international anti-Semitism in honor of Holocaust Day. "That moment, when I realized he had been captured, I felt that in the name of all of Israel a giant stride against anti-Semitism had been taken."
Eitan was the head of the Mossad operation that captured Eichmann in 1960. As the current leader of the Pensioners Party, Eitan also noted the number of holocaust survivors that were living in dismal economic conditions.
"We cannot look only at anti-Semitism against Jews," said Eitan. "The world must understand that (being) anti-Semitic and anti-Israel are the same thing. They are tied and united."
Although more than one-third of the MKs gave speeches and lingered to listen to others discuss the issue of global anti-Semitism, Eitan was one of the few party leaders to address the plenum.
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Labor Chairman Amir Peretz, and Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu were all absent from the plenum Monday, inciting criticism from rival parties.
"[Their absence] is a disgrace and a slap in the face to those fighting anti-Semitism worldwide," said MK Uri Ariel (NU-NRP). The prime minister should introduce before the Knesset his goals in the war on anti-Semitism."
While other MKs pointed to growing anti-Semitism in countries ranging from Russia to South America, Arab MK Talab a-Sanaa said that he found racism much closer to home.
The Russian party Yisrael Beitenu was a racist and anti-Semitic party said a-Sanaa.
"[Yisrael Beitenu Leader Avigdor] Lieberman is an anti-Semite who incites against citizens of the state because they are Arabs, because of the color of their skin," said a-Sanaa. "He spews venom. If anyone else would say against Jews what Lieberman says [against Arabs] he would be branded an anti-Semite."
A-Sanaa urged Olmert to keep Lieberman's party out of the coalition as its inclusion would "legitimize its extreme and unacceptable views." Afterwards, A-Sanaa also condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his "unacceptable and despicable" statements.
Several Hours later, MK Zevulun Orlev, (NU-NRP) declared that anti-Semitism no longer existed just among neo-Nazis and skinheads, but that it was now being spread by Muslims, among them Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad and Hamas.
Although this year's Holocaust day comes amidst a decrease in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, Foreign Minister for Diaspora Affairs, MK Rabbi Michael Melchoir (Labor-Meimad) warned that the reduction should not lead to exaggerated complacency.
"I congratulate the data and the decrease, but anti-Semitism is a complex, deeply-rooted social process of demonization," said Melchoir. "On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day we must remember that Auschwitz was not built in one day."
On Tuesday, the Knesset will hold a special ceremony entitled "Every person has a name," in which the names of Holocaust survivors will be read on the plenum floor.