Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday made the incredible comparison of a handful of Jews who engaged in violence against Palestinians in Hebron last week to mobs of Russians who massacred thousands of Jews during the 1800s.
"As a Jew, I'm ashamed of the sights of Jews firing at Arabs in Hebron. I have no other definition for what we saw but a pogrom. We are the sons of a nation which knows what a pogrom is, and I'm saying this after much thought. I have no other way to put it," said Olmert.
The incident Olmert was referring to involved two Israelis who were shown on video captured by police opening fire on a group of Palestinian Arabs. Two Palestinians were shot and wounded in the incident.
The two Israelis surrendered themselves to police on Saturday, insisting that they had opened fire in self defense and pointing out that one of them had been injured by the Arab mob before they drew their weapons. A lawyer for the two men told Ynet that one of his defendants had indeed received 36 stitches after being struck by the Arabs.
Hebron's Jewish community issued a letter to the Israeli defense establishment decrying what it called indifference on the part of soldiers and police officers acting on official orders when confronted with Arabs attacking Jews, but who sprung to action when the Jews dared to respond.
Palestinians and their left-wing Israeli supporters maintained that the two settlers had fired toward a Palestinian home without provocation. They had no explanation for injuries sustained by one of the men.
The violence was a continuation of confrontations stemming from the brutal evacuation last week of several hundred Jewish settlers from a house they own in the heart of Hebron. The Israeli government ultimately took the side of Palestinian Arabs who insisted Jews were forbidden to live in that part of the ancient Judean city.
Hebron's Jews and their supporters from around Judea and Samaria have been demonized by the Israeli press and government officials for retaliating against the Arab aggression that greeted their presence in central Hebron.