Netanyahu Ejects Jewish Likud Member for Cheering Holocaust Toll on European Jews

In an incident that highlights ethnic tensions among Israel’s Jews, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a prominent Likud Party member ejected after the Jewish activist was recorded declaring his pleasure over the Holocaust’s toll on European Jews — and wishing for another round. 

Itzik Zarka’s outburst came as he confronted protesters opposed to the right-wing Likud Party’s effort to overhaul the judiciary system. Spitting and cursing at the protesters, Zarka said, “Ashkenazim, whores, may you burn in hell. I am proud of the six million that were burned, I wish that another six million would be burned.” 

By addressing the protesters as “Ashkenazim,” Zarka cast the political dispute as an ethnic one, by drawing an aggressive distinction between Israel’s Ashkenazi Jews — those of European descent — from the Mizrahim, whose lineage is Middle Eastern.      

“The vast majority of the country’s founding left-wing elite was Ashkenazi…and enacted discriminatory policies that disadvantaged Mizrahim, particularly in the country’s early decades,” explains the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Correspondingly, Mizrahi voters have long formed a key part of the right-wing Likud’s base, while the core of the country’s shrinking left has historically been Ashkenazi.” Mizrahim comprise about half of Israel’s Jews. 

That was more to Zarka’s vitriol. “Leftists are traitors, you are the cancer of the country,” he said. “The black flags [symbols adopted by judicial-reform protesters] are your shrouds. Your legs should be broken with batons, you should be kneecapped. That way you will not go to any demonstration at all.” 

The outburst by Zarka — who has long played a starring role at Likud campaign events — drew swift condemnation from Jewish conservatives, chief among them, Netanyahu. “We will not tolerate such disgraceful behavior in the Likud movement,” he said in a statement announcing his order of Zarka’s banishment. 

On Facebook, Zarka apologized for his tirade, claiming he’d been “attacked by 80-100 people with severe violence…It came out of frustration, resentment… I should not have said that disgusting statement.” His wife denied that he had been ousted, but the Likud Party confirmed it. 

Lauding the Holocaust or questioning its purported scale is punishable in Israel by up to five years in prison.


Zero Hedges

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