|Avigdor Lieberman, Israeli Defence Minister and avowed fan of the Alt Right|
When asked whether he was concerned about the growth of antisemitism around the world, Lieberman replied, "Not really. I think a lot of this is overblown. Some of our tribe, in the diaspora, you know, they get a little overexcited. They should make Aliyah. When a Jew lives here in his own land, surrounded by his own people, he is more based."
Asked about the threats made against Jewish institutions in recent months, Lieberman smiled. "Ah, I think that was one of our operations. These students, you know, we hire them, sometimes, without proper vetting, they can go too far," he said. When asked what he meant, Lieberman only winked. Pressed further about the attacks on Jewish cemeteries, in which numerous gravestones have been toppled, Lieberman chuckled. "The wind? Even the wind is antisemitic!"
When the Haaretz interviewer inquired about what steps the Israeli government planned to take to address the rise of online hate, and in particular the growth of the so-called Alt Right websites peddling racism and antisemitism, Lieberman appeared relaxed. "I think we Jews need to calm down and learn to be more at ease with free speech," he said. "This, what you call it, the Alt Right, I looked at some of their sites, the Daily Stormer, Red Ice, and so on. Their stuff is quite funny. These memes! I would even say I'm a fan. I don't see the problem with them. They're just like us. They want the same things we do. They want to live among their own kind in their own land. What's wrong with that?"
When it was pointed out to Mr. Lieberman that many Alt Right activists were unabashed white supremacists, he replied: "You call them white supremacists just because they don't want to become a minority in their own country. Does that mean we are Jewish supremacists?" Asked if he was not concerned about appearing to endorse anti-Semites, Lieberman demurred. "Look, how many countries have we been kicked out of? A hundred? More? You have to wonder, can we really say the problem is not us, the problem is everyone else?"
Challenged on whether he was saying that Jews were responsible for antisemitism, Lieberman replied: "Look, there is a certain kind of Jew that causes problems everywhere he goes. You know it and I know it. We have some here in Israel. But, thankfully, most of them are abroad. These New York Jews. They are crazy people! They want to destroy everything. They want to tear everything down. In Russia, we had a phrase. We used to call them 'rootless cosmopolitans'. They are the ones who create the problems for us. What can you do?"
Lieberman's remarks met with immediate criticism in both Israel and abroad. Opposition Meretz MP Tamar Zandberg said Lieberman had "crossed a line" and Prime Minister Netanyahu had no choice but to dismiss him. ADL Director Jonathan Greenblatt said he was "horrified" and demanded that Lieberman withdraw his remarks and apologise. "He is undermining all of our work. How can we be expected to fight Jew hatred here in America when we have a senior Israeli minister saying the anti-Semites are basically right? This is intolerable."