This past Monday, Isaac Herzog crossed a dangerous moral red line.
Speaking on Army Radio, the chairman of Israel's parliamentary opposition referred to Jews living in Judea and Samaria as a "virus," in effect stripping hundreds of thousands of loyal citizens of their dignity and humanity.
"See what this virus has done to the State of Israel," he thundered. "Look how dangerous it is to our democracy and how we have to sacrifice lives for this nonsense," Herzog said.
It was a revealing moment, one of those occasions when a person slips, makes an unguarded comment and provides a glimpse into what lies in the inner recesses of his soul.
Only Herzog wasn't muttering under his breath on a bar stool, beer in hand, at the end of a long workday.
He opened his mouth and hurled his invective over the airwaves on one of the country's most popular radio programs, heard from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat and everywhere in between.
And while he subsequently tried to walk back the observation, there is no taking back the loathsomeness of his remarks.
After all, a virus is a threat, something that endangers the health of its carrier and which must be eliminated. Hence, when Herzog said Jews in Judea and Samaria are akin to an infection, he was placing them in the same category as Zika, Ebola or HIV. If that isn't degrading and dehumanizing, then what is? Ironically, this is precisely the kind of baleful imagery that some of Israel's worst enemies have been invoking for years against Jews and the Jewish state.
Last November, a Muslim cleric named Mounir Kamantar al-Azhari told an interviewer on the Tunisia News Network that "Jews are a virus. They are the enemies of nations and humanity."
More recently, as the invaluable Palestinian Media Watch has documented, various Palestinian leaders have repeatedly referred to Jews living in Judea and Samaria using terms such as "disease," "smallpox" or "cancerous growth."
Three months ago, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a statement highlighting "the issue of the Israeli settlement cancer," and back in July, Jamal Muhaisen, a senior Fatah leader, said in a televised interview that "the Zionist entity is a Nazi entity, planted in Arab land, planted in the land of Palestine...it spreads like cancer."
And the official Palestinian Authority newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, editorialized last year that "the occupation is like a virus and the settlement is like cancer and you are supposed to remove them from your body."
Doesn't that sound chillingly similar to Herzog's remarks? As head of the second largest faction in the Knesset, Herzog should know better than to stoop to such a level.
But behind the façade of liberalism and tolerance that he and his colleagues on the Left so proudly love to project there lies a burning hatred that is both alarming and dangerous.
Indeed, many on the Left view the Jews of Judea and Samaria as Israel's "deplorables," in much the same way that Hillary Clinton infamously referred to supporters of Donald Trump during the US election campaign in September.
Their elitist snobbery is overshadowed only by their deep-seated contempt for the brave pioneers who are settling and rebuilding our ancient homeland.
Are Jewish doctors who live in Gush Etzion and treat their Palestinian neighbors a disease on society? Are all those young religious Israelis from Judea and Samaria who are filling up combat posts in the IDF deserving of disdain? There is simply no excuse whatsoever for Herzog's haughtiness and hatred, which has become all too common on the Left of the political spectrum.
You want to disagree with Israel's policies in Judea and Samaria? Go right ahead. Have criticism to offer? Let it fly.
But to speak about an entire sector of fellow Jews as if they were a kind of epidemic that needs to be extinguished is twisted and immoral in the extreme.
Apparently, Herzog has still not digested the lesson that Clinton learned the hard way just a week ago: when you underestimate your opponent and put them down, you only motivate them even more to press forward.