Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog’s spokesman Ofer Newman stirred up controversy Saturday night with provocative comments posted on Facebook targeting Jews living in Judea and Samaria.
The post came after the airing of the TV special “The Settlers”, inspiring Newman to publicly air his feelings on the Jewish communities over the Green Line. Launching into a typed tirade, Newman labelled Jews in Judea and Samaria as “lowly murders” who “built swimming pools on the blood of murdered children.”
The special, said Newman, “is painful and terrifying proof of this simple fact: the people who are destroying our future have won without a fight. People thought they are crazy. They laughed at them.”
“But with great strength and determination they committed this horror. This blatant disregard for our chance to not die here. They violently stole our hope. They trampled over Jewish morals; the Zionism that built up [national] revival here. They won because someone was stupid enough to fear them.”
The invective only increased later in the post, with Newman calling for Jews living over the Green Line to be imprisoned.
“[The settlers] built houses at the expense of our friends’ blood. They built swimming pools on the blood of murdered children. They built cemeteries because they don’t care.”
“What kind of distorted moral foundation enabled these people to march forward towards the deaths of thousands of Israelis with no one there to say ‘That’s enough! You are despicable murderers. You belong in jail!’”
Newman also lashed out at several prominent leaders of Jewish communities over the Green Line, including the late Rabbi Moshe Levinger, one of the founders of Kiryat Arba.
“Who is Daniella Weiss? Who is Rabbi Levinger? Why on earth are these people suitable to lead the public? Why was there no one bold and strong enough to put them in jail? Why? Are they Nelson Mandela?”
Newman later removed some of the most offensive material, though Ma’ariv released screenshots preserving the original post.
Following a public outcry against Newman’s comments, Herzog condemned his spokesman’s statement, pledging he would have a “harsh talk” with Newman.
“Newman’s post is very critical, very blunt, and very wrong,” said Herzog, “because he makes a generalization that I cannot accept and uses imagery we must never, ever use. I meet settlers almost every day. The Labor movement was the one that built part of the settlement enterprise and even if we have criticism of the settler leadership, they always were and will be our brothers and part of our greater family.”
Newman later issued an apology for his comments, saying “We’re all human. We all err. This was my mistake. A week ago the Prime Minister erred and then took back what he had said… today I am.”
“The settlers are a part of our people, [I] don’t hate them and don’t come close to that.”