Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s defense minister who was appointed mid-May, has made the outlandish comparison of Palestinian national poet Mehmoud Darwish to Adolph Hitler.
He commented that the poetry of Darwish, who died in 2008, was akin to Hitler’s Nazi manifesto “Mein Kampf.”
The controversial remark came about recently after Israel’s Army Radio aired a program which covered Darwish’s writing, specifically the poem "ID Card," causing Lieberman to make threats to the station’s independence. Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev had also requested that the defense minister take away funding from Army Radio for airing the broadcast.
For some Israelis, Darwish is synonymous with a resistant Palestinian narrative, which extreme nationalists such as Lieberman have found to be unwaveringly out of place on Israeli media.
Lieberman, however, shows how out of step he is with the present cultural tide by using political rhetoric which harkens back to the Holocaust era, explained academic Yossi Klein Halevi, a senior fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
Halevi told The New York Times, “Indulging in Holocaust rhetoric belongs to an earlier era of Israeli political discourse and reveals an anachronistic way of thinking that’s out of step with contemporary Israeli discourse.”
Widely criticized for his ultranationalist political stance, Lieberman has offended not only Palestinians who revere the famous poet’s work, but also free-speech advocates globally.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Thomas Peter