Major General Yair Golan, the IDF Deputy Chief of Staff, who caused public outcry when he compared Israel to Nazi Germany on Holocaust Memorial Day, does not seem to be sorry about what he did, if one is to judge by a speech he made Thursday evening.
Golan, who never apologized for what he said, spoke to graduates of the IDF Officers’ Course, and his words indicate that far from regretting what his statements, he sees himself as a brave dissident who spoke truth to power.
“Be courageous in the face of enemy fire, in the face of a different opinion, in the face of majority opinion,” he told the officers. “This is not a matter of choice, but a supreme duty. The duty of courage separates the military profession from any other profession. He who does not practice courage, will never be prepared to use it.
“Be honest and fair,” he exhorted. “Stick to the truth and nothing but the truth. The tortures of the most difficult truth are preferable to the warm embrace of the lie.”
Golan said on Holocaust Memorial Day: “If there is something that scares me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is the identification of horrifying processes that occurred in Europe in general and Germany in particular – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding evidence of them here among us, today, in 2016.”
He later denied that he had been comparing Israeli society to Nazi Germany’s, but few analysts could find any other way to parse his statements.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu openly lambasted Golan for the comparison he made, several days after Golan's speech.
“The comparison, which came out of the Deputy Chief of Staff’s comments, to the trends that characterized Nazi Germany 80 years ago, is outrageous," he said. "They’re totally baseless. They should never have been said at any time, and certainly not at the time they were made [Holocaust Remembrance Day]. They harm Israeli society and cheapen the Holocaust.
“The Deputy Chief of Staff is a fine officer with a great deal of merit, but his words in this regard are totally wrong and I utterly reject them.”