ADL Warns Against Incendiary Discourse’ in Israel Over Soldier's Manslaughter Verdict

In strongly-worded statement the U.S.-based group says 'we harshly condemn the recent incitement against Israeli authorities.'

Supporters of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who is charged with manslaughter by the Israeli military, protest outside the military court in Tel Aviv on the verdict day for the soldier, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Supporters of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria protest outside the military court in Tel Aviv, January 4, 2017. Ilan Assayag

The Anti-Defamation League issued a sharp condemnation on Friday of the incitement directed at the country’s chief of staff and its military judges following the conviction of a soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian attacker.

"We harshly condemn the recent incitement against Israeli authorities, specifically the IDF, after the trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria,” the ADL said in a statement.

“Proper procedure was followed in this case and it was rightly before the court. We are troubled by the incendiary discourse since the announcement of the verdict, characterized by anti-democratic language and threats.  Israel’s democracy and its judicial system are forces of morality and stability for the state and shouldn’t be jeopardized or undermined.”

The statement was jointly issued by the U.S.-based organization’s executive director Jonathan Greenblatt and the director of its Israel office Carol Nuriel.

Since Azaria was convicted of manslaughter on Wednesday, threats have been issued against the army’s chief-of-staff Gadi Eisenkot, as well as Maya Heller, the military judge in the trial. 

Following the verdict, protestors outside the courtroom were heard chanting: “Gadi watch out, Rabin is looking for a friend.”

They were referring to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995.  Photos of Heller with a Hitler mustache and death threats against her children have been issued on social media.

Last May, citing concerns for the future of Israeli democracy and society, the ADL urged the government to clamp down on Lehava, a radical anti-Arab organization, and its leader Bentzi Gopstein.

In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, the organization warned than that Israel’s continued tolerance of Lehava’s “hateful discourse,” while detrimental to Israeli society, was also “used as a weapon by Israel’s enemies, who use it as a basis for their rushed conclusions and generalizations about Israeli society.”