Netanyahu's Tweet to Lapid May Have Revealed Political Exploitation of Antisemitism

Published July 19th, 2021 - 06:34 GMT
Benjamin Netanyahu
Netanyahu has for long faced accusations of taking advantage of antisemitism to serve his political agenda. (Albawaba: Riham Darwish)

Following a speech made by the Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid during the seventh Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism held via Zoom, the former Israeli Prime Minister launched an online attack against Lapid's statements, accusing him of "undermining the problem of antisemitism."

During the conference, Lapid addressed the audience saying that antisemitism is the family name of hatred and racism but that it "is not the only form of it." The Israeli FM referred to other historic events such as the slave trade, the Hutu massacres of Tutsis in Rwanda, and Islamist extremists, suggesting that they, too, are forms of hatred that should be fought amongst humans, just like antisemitism.

However, these comments angered Israel's former leader Benjamin Netanyahu and a number of right-wing Israeli politicians who refused to equate antisemitism to any other form of racism.

In a series of tweets, Netanyahu slammed Lapid's statements saying that he "minimized the concept of antisemitism by equating the hate for Jews to the hatred for human beings." The former PM continued to say: "Although antisemitism or the hatred of Jews is part of the general human phenomenon of xenophobia, it differs from it in terms of intensity, its persistence for thousands of years, and the murderous ideology that has been nurtured for generations to legitimize the extermination of the Jews."

Netanyahu also described Lapid's statements as "scandalous," adding: "It is a scandalous and irresponsible statement that distorts history and empties the concept of antisemitism of any content. If all terrible violence is antisemitic then everyone is anti-Semitic and there is no antisemitism anyway."

The former Israeli PM continued his attack saying: "If this is what the Foreign Minister says, how will the State of Israel continue to demand that the nations of the world continue to make a special effort in protecting Jewish communities abroad from antisemitic attacks and in a stubborn war of incitement against our people?"

Finally, Benjamin Netanyahu concluded his tweets by calling of Yair Lapid to "correct his words; The simple historical truth is that antisemitism is hatred of Jews and the new antisemitism is hatred of the Jewish state. Yair Lapid should understand this and correct his words immediately."

Even though these statements have triggered a nation-wide debate over antisemitism and whether or not it is another form of xenophobia targeted at the Jewish people, Netanyahu's insistence on equating antisemitism to opposition of Israeli policies and that it is a tool to rally international support for Israel has sparked questions over whether or not the long-serving politician has been exploiting antisemitism and the Nazi crime of the Holocaust for political reasons.

For many years, Netanyahu's close ties to right-wing figures in Europe and the US have come under the scope, particularly as many of them face accusations of antisemitism based on their public statements, such as the Prime Minister of Hungary Viktor Orban, the former US President Donald Trump and others.

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