A day after police chief Roni Alsheikh replied to Army Radio host Razi Barkai, who recently likened the bereaved parents of slain IDF soldiers to the families of terrorists, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon did the same on Tuesday.
Speaking to a gathering of bereaved families in Eilat, Ya'alon said, "It was important to me to come here tonight to say a few words. Even from a sense of moral obligation, as someone who served for many years in the army and lost friends and subordinates and commanders and met many of you, the families, during those difficult moments when you became bereaved families.”
“You always hear commanders, when asked what the most difficult moment of their service period was, and they will say it was that moment. And yet you chose life,” he added.
"That's the difference between us and our neighbors. We are a society that sanctifies life and unfortunately many of them sanctify death. A society which chooses death has no purpose, no future, but along the way it does damage to its surroundings," the Defense Minister continued.
"So any comparison between our grief and the grief on their side – it has no place. We chose life, and you will continue to choose life. That is the right choice, the right choice is yours,” stressed Ya'alon.
The remarks almost mirror the ones made Monday by Alsheikh who addressed the same gathering of bereaved families.
Barkai made the comparison in a recent interview with Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), likening the pain of the families of IDF soldiers whose bodies are being held captive by Hamas with the pain of the families of Arab terrorists whose bodies are held by Israel, delaying their return and burial as a deterrent move.
Barkai came under fire for the statements and did not make things better when he spoke on air with the father of Hadar Goldin, an IDF soldier whose body is being held by Hamas.
He later issued what some might call an apology on the air, but in that “apology” Barkai said that while he is sorry if anyone was offended by what he said, "I cannot lie and say that I take back what I said."
As if to drive home his original point, he then addressed another comment to "the bereaved families": "I embrace all of you, regardless of differences in color and politics. The bereavement is both here and on the other side of the fence. The feelings of bereaved parents here and there cannot be measured."
He denied that by comparing the grief of Israeli soldiers' families to that of terrorist families, he was comparing IDF soldiers to terrorists, justifying terror acts or expressing understanding toward them. Anyone accusing him of this is acting out of "evil motives," he maintained.