Israeli Deputy FM Uses Torah and Talmud to Justify Occupation
NEW Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Thursday told ministry employees that all of the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews, and that Israel had no need to apologize for that. (ILLUSTRATION: Tzipi Hotovely: ‘We need to return to the basic truth of our right to this land.’)
“Many times it seems that in our international relations, more than emphasizing the rightness of our cause, we are asked to use arguments that play well diplomatically,” she said in a speech broadcast to Israel’s 106 representations abroad. “But at a time when the very existence of Israel is being called into question, it is important to be right.”
Hotovely, who days ago told Ynet that her hawkish views would not get in the way of her work as Israel’s most senior diplomat, said that Israel had no need to apologize for its stance.
“The international community deals with considerations of justice and morality,” she said. “We need to return to the basic truth of our right to this land…this country is ours, all of it. We didn’t come here to apologize for that.”
The deputy minister ended her comments by quoting from Rashi, the famed medieval Talmud commentator, on the first line of the Torah:
“Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of the world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us,” she quoted from the commentary. She also quoted from Rabbi Yehuda Ashkenazi as saying, “If the Jews are convinced of the justice of their path vis-a-vis the world, they will already manage.”
Meanwhile, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman apologized Thursday after calling supporters of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict “autistic,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency said.
Lieberman, who heads the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, made his remarks earlier Thursday in an interview with Israel Radio.
“Anyone who thinks going back to the 1967 lines will solve the conflict is autistic,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman, who is not a part of the new Israeli government, accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of zigzagging on the two-state issue, saying he supports it after indicating during the election that it was no longer an option.
Jay Ruderman, the head of the Ruderman Family Foundation, had demanded that Lieberman apologize. In a statement released later Thursday, he cited Lieberman as stating, “I didn’t mean in any way to offend autistic people, but wanted to illustrate the unwillingness of some people to accept certain realities about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I apologize if anyone was hurt.”
“We hope this was a teaching moment for MK Lieberman that it is highly inappropriate to use a disability in a derogatory manner,” said Ruderman, whose foundation is dedicated to strengthening the relationship between Israelis and American Jews, and to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the broader society. “We are gratified that he has publicly apologized and distanced himself from the remark.”
* * *