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Netanyahu condemns anti-reform protest leader who likened government to Nazis

This statement is both an insult to the Holocaust and incitement to the murder of elected officials, the prime minister said.

Shikma Bressler at a protest against the government's judicial reform in Tel Aviv, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Shikma Bressler at a protest against the government's judicial reform in Tel Aviv, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked Shikma Bressler, a leader of the opposition to judicial reform, who compared his government to the Nazis during a panel discussion on Friday.

“I strongly condemn the words of the leader of the leftist demonstrations, Shikma Bressler, who referred to the government ministers as ‘Nazis,'” Netanyahu said on Saturday.

“This scandalous statement is both an insult to the Holocaust and a wild incitement to the murder of government ministers and elected officials. The right to demonstrate is not the right to incite,” he added.

Referring to reports of renewed efforts to reach a compromise on judicial reform, Bressler said at the first Nahalal Conference on Democracy in northern Israel, “It is forbidden to talk to Nazis, whether they are Jews or non-Jews.”

Bressler pointed to stickers from a pro-reform rally on Thursday that expressed support for Jews who had committed, or called for, acts of violence against Arabs.

A few hours after her statement, and following an uproar, Bressler apologized on X: “I made a mistake in my comments. I used a word that has no place in the conversation. I regret and apologize for these remarks.”

Member of Knesset Ofir Katz of Likud, the coalition whip, took the opposition to task for not denouncing Bressler’s remarks.

“Not one. Not even one politician from the ‘enlightened’ camp dared to condemn the ugly words of the protest leader. A camp full of ex-pats: chiefs of staff, Mossad personnel, police personnel, and everyone trembling before her,” Katz said.

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu also highlighted the opposition’s silence regarding threats made against himself and his wife, Sara, at a demonstration in Modi’in on Saturday night.

“The demonstrators chanted for my death and my wife’s death, ‘May you be in the cemetery already next year.’ Until now, none of the opposition leaders has seen fit to condemn these grave chants and to join us in calming tensions within the nation,” Netanyahu said.

Opposition leaders were vocal in condemning the government for a car accident, in which a vehicle hit a group of anti-reform protesters blocking the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on Saturday. One person was injured. The opposition said government incitement was to blame. It later turned out the collision was an accident.

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