They burned Joan of Arc at the stake. They wrapped Rabbi Haninah in a Torah scroll and burned him too. They burned Jewish books and synagogues on Kristallnacht. Not to be outdone, Israel’s Kahanists are burning Barack Obama (Maariv Hebrew article here) on Lag B’Omer. To be clear, they’re not burning the president they call “Hussein Obama,” only pictures of him, as if that wasn’t bad enough.
In Israel, there is a custom of lighting bonfires on the holiday of Lag B’Omer. Traditionally, people have taken advantage of the opportunity to burn pictures of those they believe harm the Jewish people. Not until this year, has that list of ne’er-do-wells included the U.S. president. A spokesperson for the project told Israeli radio:
Today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.
Here is the radio interview with a correspondent and a leader of the right-wing enterprise. Read it and weep:
Guy Varon: After we have seen right-wing activists burning pictures of Saddam, Nasrallah and Arafat in recent years on Lag B’Omer, this year there is a new star, US Pres. Barack Obama.
Rino Tzror: Did you see an effigy of Obama?
Guy Varon: We saw the effigies and the pictures. I also want to add that we say Barack Obama. These right wing people really like to say Hussein Obama.
Rino Tzror: Right.
Guy Varon: Pictures and effigies of the superpower leader will be distributed this year ahead of Lag B’Omer by rightwing activists. They explained that as far as they are concerned he is an enemy of Israel. His behavior harms Israel more than anything. For them the message is that Obama is bad for the Jews.
Rino Tzror: And they’re going to burn him on bonfires, like they used to burn pictures of Hitler, of all kinds of enemies of Israel. Is that the way Obama is going to be treated this Lag B’Omer?
Guy Varon: That is definitely the intention of the people who are giving out the pictures and the effigies.
Rino Tzror: Stay with us. Now we are going to talk to Bentzy Gopstein. Good morning.
Bentzy Gopstein: Good morning Rino.
Rino Tzror: You are a follower of Kahane, right?
Bentzy Gopstein: Right.
Rino Tzror: Who started this project of Obama effigies?
Bentzy Gopstein: There are a few friends together. They decided that today the enemy of Israel, even though he does not pretend to be an enemy of Israel, is Barack Hussein Obama. Just like you said that you used to burn pictures of Israel’s enemies. That is how I remember that I too used to burn pictures of Arafat, Sheikh Yassin, Hussein. Today our enemy is Obama.
Rino Tzror: No, I never burned Hussein. We used to burn Hitler. We used to go for the real villains, not the ones who maybe were and maybe weren’t.
Bentzy Gopstein: I don’t think maybe he is and maybe he isn’t. I think that Hussein Obama who wants to freeze construction in Jerusalem every minute, he would even like to just freeze Israel over. He pretends to be a friend but actually he loves Islam. He is an anti-Semite, nothing less.
Rino Tzror: What picture of Obama did you choose?
Bentzy Gopstein: A nice one.
Rino Tzror: A nice one. With or without a keffiyeh? Did you add one? Did you touch it up?
Bentzy Gopstein: No keffiyeh. A real picture of him conveys a keffiyeh, even if you don’t put one on him.
Rino Tzror: It conveys it to you. How many effigies did you make?
Bentzy Gopstein: A few hundreds. We are in production now. Some have been made. We distribute through Facebook. We opened the group “Hussein Obama comes to the bonfire.” That is where people will join and receive the effigies.
Rino Tzror: And who are the people who take the effigies or the pictures that they want to burn?
Bentzy Gopstein: A lot of people. We have inquiries from children all over the country.
Rino Tzror: Children. That’s the problem. Maybe you are ruining them.
Bentzy Gopstein: We want to educate children while they are small. When you burn it, when you have a Lag B’Omer bonfire with children, education begins with children. We want to teach them that we have to trust God, not Obama.
Sure, you can say that these idiots represent a small minority of Israelis. But just think–they Photoshopped Yitzhak Rabin in an SS uniform before a settler assassin put a bullet in him and killed him. What’s the difference really? The point is that hate kills. It kills leaders and it kills a nation’s chances for peace.
I would’ve thought Jews, of all people, might be a bit more sensitive to the idea of burning people (even in effigy) given our history.
H/t Rupa Shah and Didi Remez.