The Man Who Loves to Hate From Popolitica

Nazi name-calling peppers the discourse of Yisrael Eichler, future MK

Shahar Ilan
Shahar Ilan
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Shahar Ilan
Shahar Ilan

The Knesset ethics committee will have plenty of work on its plate in the next two years if Yisrael Eichler - a putative member of Knesset representing the United Torah Judaism party - sticks to his habit of spraying the insult "Nazi!" in every possible direction.

Eichler is well known to secular Israelis as a former player on Popolitica, the noisy political television talk show. He is editor of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish weekly, Hamahaneh Haharedi, the official publication of the Belz Hasidic sect.

In 1997 Eichler wrote in his weekly that secular opponents of Sabbath observance in the shopping mall owned by a leading member of the Israeli business community, Lev Levayev, and located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Aviv were "Nazis," "Israeli Nazis," "neo-Nazis," and "members of a Nazi underground."

In 1998, Eichler claimed that Israel's "ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is not sufficiently aware of the Nazism developing against it in Israel.... Nazi hatred has struck deep roots in an entire generation of young high-schoolers incited by the media." He also said: "Were it not for the fact that secular Israeli Jews are so busy fighting the Arabs, they would be killing our (ultra-Orthodox) children just as Pharaoh and Hitler did."

Eichler occupies the number six spot on UTJ's list of candidates for the Knesset. In accordance with the party's rotation agreement, he is scheduled to take his seat in the Knesset plenum in the 29th month of the present Knesset, in a few weeks' time.

His entry into the Knesset might, however, be delayed by the fact that the agreement does not specify who will have to resign from parliament in order to enable Eichler to become a member of the legislature.

Every member of the UTJ faction will, of course, fight in order to avoid becoming the MK who will have to vacate a seat in Eichler's favor. When he enters the Knesset, Eichler can be expected to become one of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community's most talented spokesmen.

However, he apparently will also be one of that community's biggest fanatics too. For years, he has poured his venomous anti-Zionist, anti-secular opinions on to the pages of Hamahaneh Haharedi.

In 1999 he wrote he would prefer an Arab to a Zionist regime in the Holy Land, although he did admitted that Arabs might not agree to allocating huge budgets to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

A short while before Israel celebrated Independence Day this year, Eichler said that the values of Zionism had been accumulated from the same "broken down pits ... that have spawned Stalinist oppression and Nazi cruelty."

In 1990, at the height of the affair surrounding former Shas leader Aryeh Deri (who was later sent to prison), Eichler expressed his opinion of the State of Israel: "There is not one iota of credibility in the authorities here. They have no concept of justice or integrity and are not interested in the pursuit of the truth .... This state devours its citizens. The regime is the enemy of the people.

He called the Israel Police "one of the darkest arms of the state" and frequently compares it to the KGB. Although he is waging a determined battle to take a seat in the supreme institution of Israeli democracy, Eichler saw nothing wrong a half a year ago in writing that Israel is the "phoniest democracy in the Middle East." He was one of the pioneers and leaders in ultra-Orthodox attacks on the Supreme Court. In 1996, he called the Supreme Court a "judicial junta" and a "juridical dictatorship" when such mud-slinging against the Supreme Court was a relatively rare phenomenon.

Eichler does not spare the venom of his pen even when the subject is Israel's fallen soldiers. Two years ago, he wrote that the kibbutzim are making a handsome profit from the sale of their lands and that, "in return, they have sacrificed the blood and lives of young people who have fallen in the country's wars and who will not be able to enjoy those profits."

The only possible conclusion that can be drawn from such a statement is that he regards the kibbutzniks who have died in defense of Israel as merely part of some real estate deal. Last August he compared the fallen soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces to Palestinian suicide bombers.

He argued that the phrase attributed to Zionist hero Joseph Trumpeldor, who died in the pre-1948 period in the defense of the community of Tel Hai in the Galilee, "It is good to die on behalf of our country" is actually the "secular version of the paradise enjoyed by the shahid [the martyr who dies while attacking Israelis]."

A few years ago, he published an article in which he proposed that secular Israeli Jews disengage themselves from the rest of the Jewish community in Israel. In another article, which appeared in 1997, he pontificated that "the issue is the coexistence of two nations that are descendants of the Jews and who live in two totally different cultures .... The basis for our living together as one nation no longer exists."

This past year he mocked the victory celebrations of the fans of Maccabi Tel Aviv, who won the European basketball cup, and argued that "hundreds of thousands of Tel-Avivians have gone stark raving mad." He lost no time in coming to the conclusion that the "so-called enlightened public is the most proletarian and primitive society on earth." Regarding Reform Jews, he has written that they betrayed the victims of the Holocaust and that "they were very happy to exploit their memory ... just like cannibals who consume their relatives, they made hundreds of millions of dollars trafficking in the Holocaust trade."

Are Zionists, secular Israeli Jews and Reform Jews the only targets of Eichler's hatred? No. His colleagues should remember how, in 1992, he defined UTJ as a "garbage dump that should be avoided." He made this statement after he failed to land a spot in the party's Knesset list of candidates. The problem is that most of the faction's present group of MKs represented the party in parliament when he made that statement.

Has the garbage dump in the meantime become a fragrant garden? Or has Eichler in the changed his taste so that he now finds the smell of political garbage overwhelmingly attractive?



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