Likud minister fires aide who praised Hitler, wished death on judicial officials

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Energy Minister Israel Katz fired his political adviser Monday after media reports exposed extremist remarks he repeatedly posted on social media, including expressing his will for God to “take the High Court justices to hell” and “I understand why Hitler slaughtered six million Ashkenazi” Jews.

However, despite being fired, the adviser, Oved Hugi, attended a Knesset committee discussion on Monday.

The Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday evening on Hugi’s remarks, which included praising Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler for murdering Jews of Eastern European, or Ashkenazi, origin, whom Hugi associated with the political left.

Hugi, a social activist and member of the ruling Likud party’s central committee who has for years represented Jewish residents of southern Tel Aviv in Knesset committees, blasted former top law enforcement officials on Saturday, after the judges in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial reportedly said the bribery charge against the premier would be hard to prove.

“May your memory be blotted out, Shai Nitzan, Mandelbluff and Roni Alsheich,” Hugi wrote on Facebook, referring respectively to the former state attorney, former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit and the former police chief, who were in charge of the investigation and the indictment against Netanyahu. Hugi has previously claimed Mandelblit and Nitzan were descendants of Hitler.

In late 2022, Hugi tweeted: “Today I understand why Hitler, may his memory be blotted out, slaughtered six million Ashkenazim and all of Europe cooperated with him.” In another post, reacting to an uproar over anti-Haredi remarks by radio host  Natan Zahavi, Hugi wrote: “From day to day I respect Hitler, may his name and memory be blotted out, thanks to Zahavi.”

On another occasion, Hugi criticized Hitler for “killing six million [people] instead of just killing [former Supreme Court chief justice] Aharon Barak.”

Ofer Hugi, who was fired as an adviser to Energy Minister Israel Katz over incendiary social media posts, takes part in a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting in Jerusalem on June 26, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

In a post from February 2022, Hugi wondered “how it is possible that there are people in Israel with the family name Schwartz while the commander of the concentration and death camp Auschwitz had the family name Schwartz.”

Growing parts of the Israeli right wing associate Ashkenazi Jews with left-wing political positions and Sephardi and other Jews with Middle Eastern roots with the political right, arguing that the Ashkenazi “hegemony” has been subjugating the Sephardi “Second Israel.”

However, Netanyahu himself is Ashkenazi and so are many current ministers, including Israel Katz, who is the son of two Romanian Holocaust survivors.

The Kan report said Katz had been employing Hugi for several months as a political adviser.

Following the report, Katz’s office said the minister hadn’t been aware of the “severe” social media posts, adding that the minister “utterly rejects” their content.

The office said Katz had immediately suspended Hugi until the matter is probed, and on Monday, Kan reported that Hugi had been fired.

MK Simcha Rothman, chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, leads a committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 26, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

But even after that announcement, Hugi openly participated in a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting, apparently at the invitation of the committee chair, Religious Zionism MK Simcha Rothman.

Asked by opposition lawmakers to kick him out, Rothman was entirely dismissive of Hugi’s social media death wishes, saying: “I don’t probe people’s past” and “There are many people here who write a lot of things.”

Hugi claimed during the meeting that he had resigned as Katz’s adviser and was participating as a representative of southern Tel Aviv residents.

When opposition MK Yulia Malinovsky repeatedly demanded that Rothman kick out Hugi, Rothman kicked out Malinovsky for disturbing the discussion.

In response, Malinovsky wrote on Twitter that the current government was “legitimizing criminals.”

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