The writer and Israel Prize laureate Amoz Oz said on Friday that those responsible for hate crimes against Arabs and Christians are "Hebrew neo-Nazis."
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Speaking at a Tel Aviv event marking his 75th birthday, Oz said that terms like "hilltop youth" and "price tag" are "sweet names for a monster that needs to be called what it is: Hebrew neo-Nazis groups."
Oz added that in his mind, perhaps the only difference between neo-Nazis around the world and perpetrators of hate crimes in Israel is that "our neo-Nazi groups enjoy the support of numerous nationalist or even racist legislators, as well as rabbis who give them what is in my view pseudo-religious justification."
Former Knesset Speaker and presidential nominee Reuven Rivlin, who also attended the event, said that such a comparison is out of line, Army Radio reported.
On Friday morning, anti-Christian graffiti was found on a wall adjacent to a Roman church in Jerusalem, the latest in a wave of hate crime incidents across Israel.
The Israel Police and the Shin Bet security service fear that right-wing extremists might exploit Pope Francis' visit to the Holy Land on May 24-26 to carry out a major hate crime to drum up media attention.