Netanyahu: Time to Put General’s 'Germany 1930s' Comparison Behind Us

The prime minister shakes hands with Maj. Gen. Yair Golan and stresses Israel's security challenges ahead.

Deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, during a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, May 5, 2016.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Monday it was time to move on after  a general’s remarks comparing Israeli society today to Germany before and during Nazi Germany.

“The matter is behind us; I see it as a one-time occurrence,” Netanyahu told the General Staff at a small ceremony a few days before Independence Day. “From here, all of us will go forward together.”

At the beginning of the event, Netanyahu shook hands with the general, the deputy head of the Israel Defense Forces, Yair Golan.

“We work together around the clock to guarantee Israelis’ security, and we have very great challenges,” Netanyahu said. “But I think the work that you’ve done and that we will all do together will continue to contribute to Israel’s security.”

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot added: “We, the officers, need to think about what we say and when we say it.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to soldiers in the Golan Heights, April 11, 2016.
Kobi Gideon / GPO

A week ago, Golan likened current developments in Israeli society to “revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then – 70, 80 and 90 years ago.”

Golan was severely criticized, especially by politicians on the right wing.

As the general put it: “There is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears and intimidate. There is nothing easier than to behave like an animal and act sanctimoniously.”

On Sunday, Netanyahu was still lambasting Golan for these remarks; he said Golan’s comments on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day were “fundamentally unfounded things .... There is no country without signs of intolerance and of violence, but Israeli democracy is strong. It denounces such signs and takes care of them by means of the law and other measures."