The Fact-checker: An ultra-Orthodox MK Says He Loves Mankind. Does He Really?

MK Israel Eichler is said that hate crimes like the 'price tag' attack in Abu Ghosh are the result of incitement to hatred. In light of that insight, here are some of his own past remarks.

Maya Lecker
Maya Lecker
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Maya Lecker
Maya Lecker

“The attack on the residents of Abu Ghosh is a terrible wrong from the human point of view. There is an Israeli-Arab conflict that has been going on for 100 years, but if we’d been able not to develop this war 100 years ago but to find a way to live together, we would have spared ourselves much anguish. The Knesset must request of everyone: Do not harm innocent people, no matter who they are. It’s called a hate crime. It is the result of incitement to hatred, almost everyone against everyone; the result is hatred. If there will be a [consensual] dialogue forbidding hate speeches, forbidding the passage of hate budgets, and deliberate and conscious discrimination against people, then there will be no hate crimes.”

MK Israel Eichler (United Torah Judaism), speaking in the Knesset, June 18

On the night between Monday and Tuesday two weeks ago, cars were damaged and racist graffiti was sprayed on walls in the village of Abu Ghosh, outside Jerusalem. This is what’s known in Israel as a “price tag” crime. It refers to violent acts that victimize Palestinians (or Israeli Arabs) and damage their property, but whose real target is the government of Israel (which sometimes dares to act in ways which young, extreme right-wing people might interpret as nonconsensual).

The event in Abu Ghosh aroused stronger reactions than usual (“usual” meaning the hundreds of “price tag” events perpetrated in recent years in Arab communities that have fewer Jewish friends in high places). Notable among them were right-wing MKs who declared themselves shocked, demanded an investigation, visited Abu Ghosh (first on the scene was Shas leader Aryeh Deri) and spoke out against racism and in favor of equality and the rule of law. One of the most moving speeches in this regard was delivered by Eichler. He espouses relatively moderate political views, but nevertheless remains an MK (and former journalist) who is better known for his extreme statements and unrestrained rants against people − some of whom, at least, are innocent.

Eichler is correct in his analysis that hate crimes are the result of incitement to hatred. In light of that insight, here are some of his own past remarks:

− “They [secular people] have created a generation of people who look like human animals and behave like two-legged beasts” (interview on the ultra-Orthodox website Behadrey Haredim, May 2010).

− “The Spanish Inquisition carried out fewer checks” (on investigations by the Transportation Ministry of incidents in which women were forced to sit at the back of the bus, December 2011).

− “The Reform are worse than our enemies; they hate the Haredim more than the Arabs [hate] the Jews.” He also labeled members of the Reform movement in Judaism “anti-Semites,” “Jew haters” and “heretics” (meeting of the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women, February 2012).

− “The culture minister from Likud is eulogizing the great loss that this Jew hater has died. It’s beyond belief. This is Jewish culture? This is a Jewish state?” (referring to the late writer Yoram Kaniuk; in the Knesset, June 2013).

MK Yisrael EichlerCredit: Michal Fattal

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