Israeli Leaders Call for Civil Discourse

YERUSHALAYIM -

Following a spate of inflammatory comments directed against public officials, a call went out in the Knesset on Wednesday for restraint and more civil discourse.

Speaking at a gathering to pay tribute to Yitzchak Navon, Israel’s fifth president, who died in November at age 94, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu began by saying: “I have a wish. Sometimes these speeches, which are meant to honor the memory of leaders, are used for political arguments. I ask that we stop that, and show respect.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog decried “a destructive force” in Israeli society which he said is responsible for recent incitement against President Reuven Rivlin, for participating in a conference with Breaking the Silence, ex-IDF soldiers who accuse the military of war crimes, and against Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who was called a “neo-Nazi” by a Hebrew University professor earlier this week.

However, the prime minister’s invitation to show respect did not prevent Herzog from chiding Netanyahu for arriving late to the meeting.

Shaked herself on Wednesday urged that “everyone, the Left and the Right, to lower the volume, we all live in the same place.”

“I ask that we return to our basic values – the value of being pleasant to each other,” she added, in a speech she gave at the Calcalist conference in Tel Aviv.