Israeli President Rivlin under attack for refusing to pardon Hebron shooter Elor Azaria

The Israel Police has opened an investigation after an image of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin wearing a kaffiyeh began circulating on Facebook. Rivlin's social media pages have been inundated with attacks since his refusal to pardon Hebron shooter Elor Azaria. Government officials have also critiqued the president’s decision, accusing him of caving to “misguided pressure.”
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin wearing a kaffiyeh Photo Credit: Facebook screenshot/ Channel 2 News

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's decision not to pardon Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier convicted of killing a neutralized terrorist, caused an uproar among surfers on Israel's social networks. Among angry posts and disgruntled attacks, a doctored photograph of Rivlin wearing a kaffiyeh began circulating on Facebook. The kaffiyeh, a square head scarf traditionally worn by Arab men, became a symbol of Palestinian nationalism in the 1930s. The Israel Police decided to open an investigation into the image’s origins this morning (Monday).

As reported earlier by JOL, Rivlin rejected Azaria’s clemency request yesterday, a move which drew harsh criticism from senior governmental officials including Culture Minister Miri Regev and MK Oren Hazan (Likud). Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein condemned those who spoke out against Rivlin this morning and said: "If you think that will get you more votes for the Likud, you are mistaken.”

Shortly after announcing his decision yesterday, Rivlin's Facebook page was quickly inundated with negative comments blasting his decision and personal attacks against the president himself. Most notable was a retouched photo of Rivlin wearing a kaffiyeh. “You will be remembered forever as a president who never stopped acting against his people," one person wrote. “You are a president of 20 percent of the people, a president without a people."

"Shame on you, definitely the worst president Israel has ever had,” wrote another. “I hope that you’ll be kicked out of your position and rest in your home in retirement, you are superfluous and only cause harm. May your time sucking up to the left and to the Arabs be easy.” Another added: "You are insolent, you have lost the right to be our president. You have always been a little businessman, and your sucking up to the anti-Semitic left will be remembered for generations.”

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev joined the fray and said that "the president of Israel is causing harm to the institution of pardoning and has chosen to abandon Elor,” adding that "the president had the chance to realize the most worthy purpose of the [presidential] pardon, and it is very regrettable that he gave in to misguided pressure and chose to abandon Elor as well.”

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