Itzik Zarka, a major mover and shaker in the Likud is here seen in a counter pro-reform demonstration. He is chanting, “Ashkenazi whores, may you burn in hell, I spit on you. I’m proud of the six million who burned, proud!” Nazism is never far from right-wing populism. https://t.co/VjoXZxpEJw
— Shaiel Ben-Ephraim (@academic_la) July 15, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the ejection on Sunday of an activist from his Likud party who mocked the Holocaust while heckling anti-government protesters, in remarks that suggested ethnic tensions beneath a constitutional crisis.
Video circulated on social media showed Itzik Zarka cursing and spitting at demonstrators at a traffic junction near the working-class town of Beit Shean on Saturday.
“It’s not for nothing that six million were killed,” he shouts. “I’m proud that six million of you were burned!“
Itzik Zarka with Bibi
“We will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour in the Likud movement,” Netanyahu said in a statement on the ouster of Zarka, for years a towering figure at party campaign events.
By framing the mostly European Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide as adversaries, Zarka appeared to be distinguishing between them and Mizrahi Jews of Middle Eastern descent who have been a traditional core of support for the conservative Likud.
Some members of Netanyahu’s religious-nationalist coalition have cast the prime minister’s push to overhaul the judiciary as redressing elitist overreach by the Askenazi, or European-descended, Jews who dominated the country’s founding generation.
The Mizrahim who make up around half of Israel’s Jewish majority – a figure hard to pin down due to widespread intermarriage with Ashkenazim – have at times complained of discrimination and socio-economic disadvantage.
Denying the Holocaust, questioning its scale or celebrating it is punishable by five years’ in jail under Israeli law. The historical catastrophe is an issue that generally unites Jews, and Zarka’s remarks were condemned across the political spectrum.
Zarka, who is Jewish, said in a statement circulated on social media that his comments had been “taken out of context” and described himself as the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.
Really, really good stuff here from the Jews.