PMO chief Gabai blasted for anti-Druse remarks

PMO director-general: 'My words were misunderstood.'

September 3, 2009 12:28
2 minute read.
PMO chief Gabai blasted for anti-Druse remarks

Druse shepherd 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Prime Minister's Office Director-General Eyal Gabai came under fire on Thursday, with MKs calling for his dismissal after he blasted the Druse community, accusing them of intimidating state officials. Speaking at a forum of senior industrialists Thursday morning, Gabai said the word Druse "has become a word which intimidates government offices. "People say they're armed and we should be careful. You see them shooting while driving around the area in their all-terrain vehicles, and nobody wants to mess with them," he said. He was speaking about the fear of state planners to begin construction on lands populated by members of the Druse community, specifically regarding the project to install a pipeline in the Kishon River. Gabai recounted the recent incident at the Kishon, when the plan to lay a natural gas pipeline to Haifa was dropped once it was realized that the pipe would traverse Druse lands. "A commissioned environmental-minded opinion stated that emissions should be reduced. The Infrastructure Ministry and Netivei Gaz [a gas company] wanted to lay down the new pipeline. When they found out the route went through Druse territory, they gave up," he said. Within minutes after Gabbai's comments were revealed on radio and Internet news, MKs - Druse and Jewish alike - immediately jumped at the chance to blast one of the leading figures in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's inner circle. Druse MK Hamed Amer (Yisrael Beiteinu) called on Netanyahu to fire Gabai. "His statement was severe. We are a minority that has given so much to the state and its security and we will continue to do so," he said. On the other side of the political spectrum, another one of the four Druse representatives in the Knesset, MK Said Nafah (Balad), described Gabbai as "another racist from the racist-producing school. "The Druse are victims, and their blood is on the hands of Gabbai and those who appointed him," he continued. "The policy of racist discrimination that disregards the rights of the Arab minority - including the Druse - that is what is threatening good order." Kadima faction chair MK Dalia Itzik called on Gabai to retract his words and apologize to the Druse community. "The regrettable words by the PMO director-general do not reflect the opinions of Israeli society," she said. Gabai issued a statement immediately after the speech saying, "My words were misunderstood. I was referring to people who [have] developed prejudices against the [Druse] sector, instead of speaking to [the entire community]." On Israel Radio later Thursday, Gabai said, " My words were badly chosen." He insisted that his words were taken out of context and that his attack was actually directed at government offices, which, he said, were finding excuses to avoid work. "Offices operate on the basis of assumptions which let them avoid doing their jobs," he said. The Prime Minister's Office said it was "obvious the director-general feels a lot of appreciation toward Israel's Druse citizens and cherishes their immense contribution to the State of Israel."

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town