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Herzog compares political turmoil to Roman destruction of Jerusalem

Israeli president calls the refusal to negotiate on a judicial reform agreement a "blunder of historic proportions."

Israeli President Isaac Herzog attends the President's Award for volunteering at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, June 14, 2023. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90
Israeli President Isaac Herzog attends the President's Award for volunteering at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, June 14, 2023. Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday compared Israel’s current political conflict to those that the Jewish people went through in the period leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E.

Speaking during a state memorial for Theodor Herzl, Herzog noted that Jews around the world are now observing a three-week period of mourning leading up to the anniversary of Jerusalem’s destruction. These days “demand of us to behave with dignity and responsibility, in issues that directly impact the unity of Israel, and the cohesion of Israeli society,” he said.

“I don’t think there is anyone in Israel… who thinks that what is happening here is good for Israeli society. Families are being torn apart. Neighbors and friends are becoming rivals and enemies,” he continued.

“We all know the historical examples from the ‘Three Weeks,’ but this is not history—this is our ‘here and now,’ and it speaks for itself. This shocking and dangerous reality is happening before our eyes,” he said.

Herzog went on to say that many people from all sides of Israel’s political spectrum have been telling him, “What a waste. What a tragedy.”

A compromise agreement on judicial reform, including the “reasonableness clause,” which is up for a first vote in the Knesset plenum this week, is still possible, but “no one is willing to sit down and talk, now, without preconditions. This is a blunder of historic proportions,” he said.

Herzog added that this “is the moment to think about the bigger picture. Now is the time to think about the consequences. Put egos aside. Come and talk. Cease the terrible divisions. The people expect you to come to your senses, and quickly.”

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