The Knesset interrupted its summer recess to hold a special plenum session for discussing the stabbing murder at the gay pride parade in Jerusalem and the arson murder at the Arab village of Duma at week's end.
The session was convened at the request of 25 MKs, as required in the case of special sessions during the recess.
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) accused the nationalist leadership of bearing responsibility for the crimes: “For a moment, it appeared that we all share the feeling of shock, and that we would understand that a deep reckoning is required. Before the Jewish people carries out 'tikkun olam' [fixing the world — ed.], we must carry out our own tikkun here. But then came the aftershock. I hear the voices of a public that feels the way it felt after Rabin's murder.
"We will not agree to let you ignore this, blame us and turn yourselves into victims,” she said. “The victim is Shira Banki, who was murdered at the parade, and not those who were not allowed to speak at the rally. The self-victimization cannot replace a reckoning over what is going on in Judea and Samaria, while there is silent knowledge, and encouragement of lawbreaking, by representatives of the government as well, and terrible things that were said in this house against the LGBT community.”
Leftist MKs echoed accusations that have been repeated often in recent days, that right wing MKs like MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) had spoken out against homosexuality and were thus responsible for the stabbing attack in Jerusalem, and that nationalist leaders including Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett incited lawlessness among Jews in Judea and Samaria, and thus bore responsibility for the Duma arson as well.
Erdan goes on offense
Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan replied to the accusations and said that Israeli society indeed needs to search its soul, about “how to encourage more tolerance.” He said that the responsibility rests, first and foremost, with the government. Noting recent cases in which a bilingual school and a church were set on fire, he said: “The political camp to which I belong also has to look for the amelioration and improvement. To make sure that people like this do not exist among us.”
Erdan went on the offensive, however, and accused the leftists of hypocrisy and rejected their claim that the people behind the violence are not a minority among right wingers.
"To say that this is not a minority, and to launch a hunting expedition against the other camp, is not the way to bring about the amelioration,” he said. “I heard many statements here that ignore reality.
"You, who time after time express your complacency about firebombs that are thrown at settlers – when did any one of you demand the arrest of those who throw firebombs in eastern Jerusalem of on Highway 443, and who carry out such attacks daily throughout Israel.”
"MK Frej,” he asked Issawi Frej of Meretz, “when you visited [PA head] Abu Mazen, did you ask Abu Mazen why he pays money to terrorists who were proven to have murdered entire families? I do not remember any of you being shocked when there was an atmosphere of incitement against settlers, and some people blamed them for the abduction of the youths because they hitchike or live in the territories.”
"Who among you has ever criticized the Arab population for its treatment of women or the gay community? Why? Because they are your political allies?”
MK Stav Shafir (Labor) and MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) responded by accusing Erdan himself of incitement.
MK Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu) noted that she attended the memorial ceremony for Shira Banki, but felt genuine fear after she saw the aggressive way the crowd was behaving. “I don't think you fight hatred with hatred,” she said of left-wing activists.