In an interview Tuesday with a Phoenix newspaper, Arizona’s top educator dismissed the terrorism-related deaths and injuries of hundreds of Israelis in recent years as “minor incidents.”
State school superintendent Tom Horne appears to have been trying to walk back his previous quote that “Israel totally put a stop to terrorism by building their wall.”
But while admitting to the Phoenix New Times that Israel indeed still suffers from deadly terrorist attacks, he went on to classify them as “minor incidents” compared with others in Israel of the past decade.
“Terrorism — as a major problem — I think was solved by the wall,” he said, according to a story posted Tuesday afternoon on the newspaper’s website.
Horne, a Republican whose final term as superintendent ends after this year and who is running to become Arizona’s next attorney general, made his original comments about the Israeli border wall during a June 3 debate in Scottsdale.
He said at the time he believed the U.S. should build a wall along the Arizona-Mexico border and called it the “only way” to stop drug smuggling and illegal immigration “once and for all.”
But Horne’s claim that terrorism evaporated in Israel because the nation built a wall along part of its border with the Palestinian territories was false.
More than 230 people were injured and 15 killed in attacks in Israel last year, according to the Israeli Security Agency. In March of this year alone, there were 125 attacks, killing three people and injuring four others.
In an interview with Heat City last week, Horne said he was standing by his claim, despite the clear evidence it was untrue. “I’m talking about something that there is pretty common knowledge about,” he said.
When asked about his comments by Phoenix New Times reporter James King, Horne at least acknowledged that Israel still gets hit by terrorist attacks. But he said he doesn’t consider more-recent attacks to be as serious as those that made headlines in the past decade.