On Yom HaShoah in Israel on Thursday the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan drew criticism from government leaders, who demanded that he clarify remarks he gave in a speech at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony a day earlier comparing modern-day Israeli society to Nazi Germany.
“If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it’s the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016,” Golan said in the Wednesday speech. “There is nothing easier than hating the other. There is nothing easier than raising fears and sowing terror. There is nothing easier than becoming callous, morally corrupt and hypocritical,” he said.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Israel’s Channel 10 that he was “confused” and that his remarks “attest mainly to a lack of understanding, ignorance, and a cheapening of the Holocaust.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who was in the audience during Golan’s speech, called on Golan to clarify his words before “God forbid, our troops are likened to Nazis, with a kosher stamp from on high.”
Golan then released a statement on Thursday saying it is an “absurd and baseless comparison and I had no intention whatsoever to draw any sort of parallel or to criticize the national leadership. The IDF is a moral army that respects the rules of engagement and protects human dignity.”
“That is fitting. He made a mistake, he corrected it,” Bennett later wrote on his Twitter feed. “This is not the time for in-fighting. Let’s respect this day and be together.”