After comments from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan blaming Arab Israelis for the plague of violence in their communities provoked angry rebuttals from Arab MKs, he claimed that his words in a radio interview were taken out of context.
Erdan had called the Arab society a “very, very violent society…It’s connected to the culture there. A lot of disputes that end here with a lawsuit, there they pull out a knife and gun.”
Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List responded that “instead of taking responsibility for the security of all citizens in the country, Erdan prefers to hide behind racist claims and to throw the responsibility on the murdered.”
MK Ahmad Tibi, No. 2 in the Joint List, said the faction was discussing how to respond to Erdan in a meeting set for Thursday. The meeting was scheduled before the current uproar.
Subsequently, Erdan posted his full statement on Twitter: “Due to the distortion and exclusion from the context of my words once again: The main responsibility for the fight against crime and violence in Arab society is the government and the police. The Arab public is a law-abiding, normative public. I am proud of the unprecedented investment in recent years for the benefit of the sector in a scope that has never been before.
“However, those who want our investment to bear fruit must recognize that there are also social norms in parts of the Arab public that must be fought by changing cultural codes: blood revenge, murder in the family of a family member, illegal weapons (not only in criminal organizations). In order for us to succeed, so does the sector’s leadership.”
A similar back-and-forth transpired on Sunday when Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu combined a promise for more police in Arab towns with a call on Arab leaders to cooperate with the authorities in combating crime.