Yishai Apologizes for Linking IDF Failures in Lebanon War to Lack of Faith

Interior Minister says remarks regarding soldiers not praying were taken out of context; aides say Yishai apologized because the remarks 'affected the families' of the fallen.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Wednesday apologized to the families of the Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War, a day after he declared that Israel had failed in the Second Lebanon War because the troops did not "raise their eyes to God" and pray.

"The bereaved families and the fallen soldiers are holy to the people of Israel," said Yishai, adding that the remarks attributed to him were taken out of context, despite have been recorded.

Eli Yishai
Moti Milrod

"The quotes attributed to me were taken with intentional bias, and are not correct. When people believe, it is clear to us that the victories in the wars of Israel are dependent on faith in the creator of the world."

An aide to the interior minister said that the recording had boiled Yishai's 15-minute speech into just one moment, leading to a misunderstanding of his remarks. "Everyone who was at this event know that it was not what the minister said," according to the aide.

"When people believe, it is clear to us that everything is dependent on his faith, and we are still allowed to be religious in this country.

When asked why Yishai had apologized if he had not said the words attributed to him, members of his close circle explained that the minister had taken into account "the families affected" but the remarks.

At a celebration on Tuesday, Yishai took to the podium and compared the 2006 Second Lebanon War to the successes of the 1967 Six Day War, when "all Arab states fought against Israel."

"There were at least one hundred soldiers against every Jewish soldier, if not thousands," Yishai said, "against every tank, hundreds of tanks; against every plane, hundreds of plane."

The interior minister was quoted as saying that the IDF achieved more in 1967 because the soldiers put their faith in God, whereas during the Second Lebanon War, the IDF soldiers invested trust only in their own abilities.

"In the Six Day War, every Jew, and every Jew that went to battle, raised their eyes to the creator," the Interior Minister said. But in the Second Lebanon War, Yishai was quoted as saying, the IDF relied only on its own strength.

"This is a great lesson," Yishai said. "When all Arab states are against the Jewish people, what will save the Jewish people is study of the Torah."

Yishai described the Six Day War as "miracles and wonders."

"Then we were the weakest army in the Middle East. We had no chance of winning. Suddenly, everyone flees, and the nation of Israel wins," he added.

At the time of the Second Lebanon War, however, Yishai said, "We were the strongest army in the Middle East."