“There’s no limit to the arrogance of the Left,” Netanyahu said after Shabtai Shavit called PM’s voters people “without understanding.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted swiftly to former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit’s attack on right-wing followers that was published in a teaser article in Ma’ariv Thursday.
“They called us riffraff, good-luck-charm kissers, bots, and now we’re ‘people lacking knowledge’. There’s no limit to the arrogance of the Left when it comes to Likud voters. Our answer will arrive at the ballot box,” the prime minister said.
In an interview to be published in full in the paper’s weekend edition, Shavit said that his fight was with the Netanyahu-led Likud, as his supporters “are people without knowledge, without understanding. His political base is people whose normative threshold is grass-high.”
Shavit included the national-religious sector in his vilification, saying that he “despises” it because of its “belief that settling Judea and Samaria is a command from God.” This, he said, “is not true Judaism.” He also blasted Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich’s recent comments advocating the idea of living in a country run by Jewish law.
“Are you willing to live in the State of Israel that he describes?” he asked rhetorically. “I won’t stay a minute in Smotrich’s Land of Israel.”
Many Likud backbenchers added their voice to Netanyahu’s to defend their constituency. Uzi Dayan called Shavit’s statement “a burst of nonsense that indicates an intelligence threshold at grass height,” and Nir Barkat recommended that he apologize.
One of the party’s freshmen MKs, Ariel Kallner, took to Twitter to lambaste Shavit and suggest a possible ulterior motive for his words.
“A haughty elitist, enlightened in his own eyes, who might be waiting for a place to be reserved for him in the Blue-and-White party,” Kallner wrote. “Shabtai Shavit, you contributed to the state in the past but the country is not [like] that of your father. The Right are the majority…the religious aren’t only in the synagogues anymore… Internalize it.”
In a radio interview Thursday, the director-general of the Mossad from 1989 to 1996 defended his remarks. Without using the prime minister’s name, he said that the leadership today is “on an extremely low ethical level” and that “no truly moral person” could accept it.
“I didn’t use…a single word that could be defined as racist or condescending,” he said. “I spoke about an issue that stands above everything else today and that is the relationship between leadership and ethics, and in this equation I say that whoever is able to live under this equation and accept it is stupid.”