IDF deputy chief of staff clarifies remarks that seemed to compare Israel to Nazi Germany

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Defense Forces deputy chief of staff on Thursday clarified that he did not mean to compare Israel and its military to the rise of Nazism in Germany.

Gen. Yair Golan “did not intend to compare the IDF and Israel to what happened in Germany 70 years ago. Such a comparison would be absurd and baseless,” read a statement from the IDF spokesman’s office, which also was read on Army Radio. “There was no intention of creating any such parallel or to criticize the political echelons,” the statement said, also calling the IDF “a moral army that respects purity of arms and human dignity.”

Golan seemed to draw comparisons between what is currently happening in Israel and pre-Holocaust Germany during a speech Wednesday evening at the start of Yom Hashoah, or Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak located south east of Netanya in central Israel.

“If there’s something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it’s the recognition of the horrifying processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016,” Golan said.

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“There is nothing easier than hating the other,” he added. “There is nothing easier than raising fears and sowing terror. There is nothing easier than becoming callous, morally corrupt and hypocritical.”

He called for Holocaust Remembrance Day to be a “national day of atonement,” for such acts as “intolerance, violence, self-destruction and moral deterioration.”

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Thursday defended Golan, and said that: “The attacks on him due to intentional, distorted interpretations of something he said yesterday, are an additional attempt of a worrisome campaign to inflict political damage on the IDF and its officers.”

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, in Poland for the March of the Living, said in an interview with Army Radio that Golan was showing “contempt for the Holocaust,” and that he had been “confused” when he made the comments.