Israeli leaders slam Haaretz for article saying religious Zionists ‘more dangerous than Hezbollah’

(JTA) – Israeli political leaders condemned an article in the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz saying Israel’s national religious community is “more dangerous than Hezbollah.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday on Facebook that the article is “shameful and disgraceful,” and called on the newspaper to apologize.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, opposition leader Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid also condemned the article. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday called on Israelis to boycott Haaretz, The Times of Israel reported.

The condemnations followed the publication on Wednesday of a column by Yossi Klein (not to be confused with another Israeli writer, “Like Dreamers” author Yossi Klein Halevi) claiming that the national religious community seeks to take over the country and rid it of Arabs.

“The national religious are dangerous,” Klein wrote. “More dangerous than Hezbollah, more than drivers in car-ramming attacks or kids with scissors. The Arabs can be neutralized, but they cannot.”

Amos Schocken, the publisher of Haaretz, defended the article.

“I can’t figure out what all the excitement is (Pavlovian, I must say) over Yossi Klein’s column,” Schocken wrote on Twitter.

On Thursday, Klein defended the article during an interview with Army Radio.

“I didn’t make an inappropriate generalization; I just gave my opinion on Religious Zionism,” he said. “I gave my opinion and I stand by it.”

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