'Gov't took Jabotinsky out of schoolbooks and gave us Nakba'

Aug. 20, 2008

"The government took Ze'ev Jabotinsky out of the schoolbooks and inserted the [Palestinian] Nakba instead," Opposition leader and Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu said Wednesday in a special Knesset session during the summer recess.

Netanyahu was referring to Education Minister Yuli Tamir's decision to remove the writings of Jabotinsky from the curriculum.

Jabotinsky was the founder of the revisionist movement in Zionism before the establishment of the Jewish State, which advocated a greater Israel and in recent years has come to be seen as an overly 'hawkish' version of Zionism.

The Nakba, meaning 'catastrophe' in Arabic, is the term used by Palestinians to describe the defeat Arab armies suffered at the hands of Jewish paramilitary organizations during Israel's War of Independence.

Netanyahu slammed the government's decision this week to release 199 Palestinian prisoners, two of them with 'blood on their hands,' as a gesture of goodwill towards Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"The government decided several days ago to release hundreds of terrorists, and I ask a simple question: Why? What did we get in return? Releasing killers without gaining anything crosses a very dangerous line in the war on terror. They tell us it will strengthen Abbas, but it only strengthens terrorist groups," Netanyahu accused.

Netanyahu recounted "failures upon failures" in the government's handling of security issues, "beginning in the Second Lebanon War, through the resolutions that came after the war, Hizbullah rearmament, rocket-fire on our communities and of course the cease-fire which is helping Hamas rearm itself. Now we can add this prisoner release to that list of failures."

Netanyahu also attacked the government's economic conduct. "After it finished plucking the fruit of the economic growth we brought about, this government is going to lose [this growth] - the tsunami is on its way. This bodes ill for Israel's economy. You cannot have security without [a strong] economy."

Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee responded sarcastically to the Opposition leader's attack, saying Netanyahu "must think the public has the memory of a fish."

He stressed that the government released only 199 prisoners and "not hundreds," including two murderers who have already served more than 30 years of their sentence. "The government wants to strengthen pragmatic elements in the Palestinian Authority - the forces that wish to make peace with us."

He also reminded Netanyahu that when the latter was prime minister in the 1990s, he approved the release of Sheikh Ahhmed Yassin, a longtime spiritual leader of Hamas, in return for the release of Mossad agents captured in Jordan.

Whbee also commented on Netanyahu's economic forecasts: "I heard what Netanyahu said - and no one is taking from him the credit of bringing about changes in the economy - this government continues to follow the lines he set down. We are just coping with changes occurring in the economy throughout the world."

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