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Arab, leftist high schoolers walk out on Naftali Bennett's speech

Bennett suggests Arabs steal Jewish property during conference for Israeli high schoolers who will be voting in their first elections. Activist says he was threatened by Shin Bet outside the event.

Naftali Bennett speaks at an event for high schoolers voting for the first time, Tel Aviv University, February 8, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen)

Naftali Bennett speaks at an event for high schoolers voting for the first time, Tel Aviv University, February 8, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen)

Dozens of Arab and Jewish-leftist high school students walked out on a speech by Naftali Bennett after he suggested Arabs are car and property thieves during a conference held on Sunday at Tel Aviv University.

The leaders of several Israeli political parties spoke at the conference, put on by the Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel, which was convened for Israeli high school students who will be old enough to vote for the first time when Israeli elections are held on March 17.

One of the students who walked out says he was then questioned by Shin Bet officers who demanded to see his identity card. The student, who is also an activist in Meretz, told Haaretz’s Yarden Skoop: “They told me that I was suspected of attacking a government minister, and that I should expect a phone call from the Shin Bet.”

The students walked out in the middle of Bennett’s speech after he made the following remarks, which Hebrew speakers can view and hear on this video clip (translation/summary immediately below the video):


People who drive to the Negev know that they can’t park their cars near popular tourist sites because they will certainly get broken into. [In response to an approving prompt from someone in the audience, Bennett affirmed, “In Petah Tikvah, too!”] And in the Galilee, and they steal tractors from farmers. And in East Jerusalem! In East Jerusalem you can’t even go to Mt. Scopus or the Mt. of Olives anymore. And in every Arab village and in every Arab city. And by the way this hurts the Arabs too! Because the State of Israel has decided that the law should only be enforced in places like Tel Aviv and Ra’anana [prosperous, liberal cities in the center of the country]. And that is why [when/if the Jewish Home is asked to join the next governing coalition – LG] we will demand the legal affairs and domestic security portfolios, so that MK Ayelet Shaked will be the Minister of Internal Security.

At this point the protesting students get up to leave. Based on what we can see in the video, they filed out quietly, with the Meretz supporters identifiable by their bright green T-shirts. Bennett shouted at them, “That’s always the way with the leftists. They run away. Go ahead! Run! We are staying here in this land! We are not running away!” Bennett supporters in the audience responded with cheers and applause.

Ayelet Shaked is notorious for having posted on Facebook that all Palestinians were enemy combatants, irrespective of their gender or age, and for referring to them as “snakes.” She has on many occasions expressed radically right-wing ideas which have been widely covered by the Israeli media.

Dror Feuer, an Israeli journalist for Globes newspaper, who is a supporter of Hadash, the Arab-Jewish socialist party, attended the conference and tweeted (in Hebrew), “Just coming out of the elections conference with several party leaders and a thousand high schoolers. It was pretty good, until Bennett got up and said all the Arabs were car thieves. He really did. The Arab students left and so did I.”

In response, Bennett posted a Facebook status addressed directly to Feuer. In very idiomatic Hebrew (which he translated into English as well), he calls Feuer a liar and threatens him with a libel suit if the journalist fails to delete the tweet within 24 hours. The media, Bennett writes, has been persecuting him for three years with lies about things he allegedly said or did, and these lies are having a negative effect on his reputation abroad. Bennett cleverly chooses three examples of cases where the media did level accusations that were later shown to be untrue, or at least open to debate. He ignores the many occasions on which he has made blatant, crudely racist remarks directed at Palestinians, including the time he said that he had killed plenty of Arabs and had no problem with that.

The whole incident is an excellent example of Bennett’s genius for populism and public relations. It is true that he did not specifically say that Arabs were car thieves; instead, he spoke in code. Imagine if a right-wing populist running for office in the United States were to give a speech that played on white fears by referring to the risks of driving around the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, the south side of Chicago or East Los Angeles. Everyone would know he was referring to brown people, just as Bennett’s audience knew he was referring to Arabs. And how easy it is to play on the fears of the people in power as a means of deflecting from the reality of hooligans rampaging through Jerusalem, shouting “death to Arabs” with impunity, beating up random passersby because they look or sound Arab, even beating up Druze citizens who are serving in the Israeli army, because they were heard speaking Arabic.

In Israel the police are not punished for shooting unarmed Arab protestors in the back, or for beating them senseless — not even when there is videotaped evidence. Whites in America might be afraid of blacks, but the blacks are the ones who get shot, choked to death and jailed. And in Israel it is the Arabs who get beaten and jailed for protesting — or just for existing. And when they walk out of a speech given by a racist parliamentarian, they are allegedly questioned by the Shin Bet. And the Ashkenazi Jewish ex-combat officer parliamentarian who preaches racist incitement to an audience of high school students? Nothing will happen to him.

Naftali Bennett is not the problem
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Special Coverage: 2015 Elections

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    1. Pedro X

      I guess Mr. Bennett upset a few left wingers in the audience with his law and order speech. Oh well, they would not have voted for him any ways.

      If he upset any right wingers in the audience or elsewhere in Israel the beneficiary of such upset will likely be the Likud party and Netanyahu.

      So it is all good which is more than I can say for the leftist camp. Meretz is polling 5 seats and is on the verge of losing its status as a party if party supporters want to give votes to Labor to defeat Likud.

      Meanwhile serious infighting is reported in the Livni and Herzog camp. Apparently Herzog’s and Livni’s people cannot play nice with each other. The restructuring of the party unfolded as rumors of heated disagreements on key issues between Herzog and Livni emerged. Livni may be shopping for another party to move to in the near future.

      Again the beneficiary of such infighting will be Netanyhu. All is good, is it not? Actually, it is too bad the left cannot get its act together. Herzog would make a good prime minister. Well, maybe next time.

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        ANY Jew that clings to the Far Right of the Political Spectrum where Fascism lies, is NO Jew.

        It is a desecration of all the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and for ANY Jew to be supporting Right Wing Fascism is pure insanity and a betrayal to everything we have fought for…

        This is the true Existential Threat to Israel’s survival…

        Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        I’m not surprised at your smug nonchalance. You’ve already told us it’s A-OK in your book for an Israeli Prime Minister to publicly lie about his own (Arab) citizens.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Brian

      The parallels to a certain crude rabble rouser at the end of Weimar Republic who railed against the leftists in Berlin are all too clear.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Kolumn4

      Bennett is completely correct here and pointing out a real problem is apparently too much for the left in Israel to handle. Funny thing is that I sometimes watch the knesset channel and I have repeatedly seen Ahmed Tibi complaining that the Israeli police are not doing enough to deal with violence and lawlessness in Arab cities. But when Bennett says the same thing it apparently warrants the tar and the feathers. One can safely add this to the leftist hipocrisy column.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Brian

      Well I’m sure that Bennett, that sociologist of crime and urban planning, just wants to pour all sorts of resources, including better policing, into Arab cities and towns. I’m sure he can’t wait. Because he cares. Why didn’t those leftists wait until he got to that part of his speech before they ran away? It’s so unfortunate. Because he’s such an inclusive guy. He’s just reaching out with speeches like this. I bet he’s already planning his next campaign slogan: “Together, We Can.” Because he’s intent on making the Arabs feel included and invested. No matter what the Likudmeters are reading. I’m sure he and Tibi just need to jointly propose legislation they plan over a nice cup of coffee. I’m sure Bennett and Shaked are already planning to redeploy all the funds Stav Schaffir is finding diverted to the settlements back to the underfunded Arab sector as they wind down and withdraw the settlements. Because I’m sure Bennet’s “entirely correct” and his heart is in the right place. That’s why he crowed about appointing Shaked Minister of Internal Security. The best part is “and they steal tractors.” I read the whole speech and found not a single reference to the grand larceny of the settlements or the daily theft of water or the destruction of thousands of olive trees east of the Galilee. Etc. Jewish crime is not a real thing I guess. I guess if you commit a crime wearing a knitted skullcap in a certain area its magically not a crime. And if Bennett had said “everyone knows you can’t grow olives or graze sheep in this area without getting set upon by vicious hoodlums backed by soldiers why then he’d be guilty of the most vicious generalizing and innuendo. He’d be an anti-Semite for sure. A defeatist. A traitor. Worst of all: A leftist.

      Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        And after this hysterical ramblings, your point is exactly…..what?

        Reply to Comment
      • BigCat

        And after this hysterical rants and ramblings, your point is exactly…..what?

        Reply to Comment
      • C. C. DeVille

        tinkerbell! No need to get all aflutter.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Mikesailor

      I can’t understand why any identifiable group of non-Zionists would be insulted. After all, don’t they understand the “master race” insults all non-Jews and “leftists” and therefore one should sit quietly in one’s seat and meekly listen to your “betters”. Remember they are only “insulting” you for your own good, for you will only “improve” as long as you accept your lot and bow down to your Zionist overlords. Isn’t that the lesson, K4? And if you don”t listen meekly and show due subservience, the secret police will question you so you don’t forget who is the “Boss”. Racist? Never. It’s only for their own “good”. Right? For if you don’t you are automatically deemed antisemitic and therefore liable to be beaten imprisoned and or killed and it will only be your fault. For you had the temerity to not kowtow to the prevailing ubermenschen in this “Jewish” paradise.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ginger Eis

      Facts are stubborn things!

      You see, Ms. Lisa Goldman, hate blinds and one who is blinded by hate loses sight of that which is of substance and important to him, and engages in narrow-minded, shortsighted recrimination and demagoguery. Here are the facts, Ms. Goldman:

      FACT 1: The Israeli-Arab leadership and an overwhelming majority of Israeli-Arabs agrees with Bennett – 100%. Read the words of the 70 years old Israeli –Arab and Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanaim:

      “It’s Unbearable. Seventeen people from the Arab sector have been killed since the beginning of the year from illegal weapons. We are seeing thefts, torching of vehicles and widespread crime in the Arab cities. I am not talking about a feeling that the authorities have given up on enforcement in the Arab cities. I regret to say that I am talking about facts.” http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191109#.VNkPjeaG8ms

      FACT 2: none, and I mean NONE, of what Bennett said is remotely racist. All the problems mentioned by Bennett are based on the facts on the ground. What is more troubling is that what Bennett pointed out are just mere symptoms of more deeper rooted societal problems that are destroying the Arab-communities from within.

      FACT 3: Arabs themselves suffer by a very large margin most from the problems enumerated by Bennett.

      FACT 4: the righteous is one who is “his brother’s keeper”, calls a spade a spade and has a plan to resolve the social quagmire plaguing his brother. That righteous man is Bennett. Ayelet is “her brother’s keeper”!

      FACT 5: the racist hypocrite is one who calls himself a “liberal”/“progressive”/“human rights champion” and pretends to be a friend to his brother, but ignores the social quagmire plaguing his brother, has zero plans to solve that problem and does not seriously intend to solve that problem, but at the same time calls those who do the direct opposite “racists”. The political Left in Israel (incl. the media) is racist and dishonest.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Eis, I apologize in advance for troubling you but the Arutz Sheva article is a dishonest spin of the mayor’s comment and I think yours is a dishonest spin of Arutz Sheva’s dishonest spin. Spin squared. The entire Israeli media are not fooled. And are not fools. Naftali Bennet and Ayelet Shaked are “brothers and sisters keepers” or whatever of the Arabs? Who do you think you’re kidding? Facts are stubborn things indeed. Your overweening, self righteous ad hominem attack on Ms. Goldman, calling her blinded by hate, racist, and a demagogue is very off putting. (The truth is that Naftali Bennet is an absolutely classic demagogue.) But what else is new? From my considerable experience, everyone on planet Earth who doesn’t see things your way here is automatically branded by you as “blinded by hate” and there can’t be any other possibility.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Brian

      Let’s talk about hypocrisy and hate shall we?

      Former Virginia Republican governor Jim Gilmore, in response to remarks President Obama made at annual prayer breakfast said:

      “The president’s comments this morning… are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime. He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”

      Why did the “Christian Zionist” Gilmore say such a thing? Why, it’s because Obama said the following horrible thing:

      Obama spoke at length of how faith can be uplifting, and then said that “faith [can also be] twisted and distorted, used as a wedge – or worse, sometimes used as a weapon.” Obama named ISIS, called it a “brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism.” Further on Obama said “Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

      For saying that he’s being pilloried by Bibi’s pals.

      In other words, Bibi’s “Christian Zionist” buddies are calling the President a “hater” and “anti-American” because he dared to mention his fellow Christians’ past persecutory behavior during the Inquisition, an historical episode of vicious persecution Bibi’s father spent a lifetime writing whole books documenting. Lovely isn’t it?

      Reply to Comment
    8. Average American

      “Christian Zionist” is a fabrication. Christians are despised by Zionists (Jews) as idolators.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        There are many many more Christian Zionists than there are non-Christian Zionists in the USA. But then sophisticated thinking has never been a hallmark of your countryfolk. There also many more believers in creationism than there are believers in evolution, but even more disturbingly polls show a substantial number of Americans believe both Creationism and Evolutionary theory are “probably true”. And I’m afraid many Americans (who are more average than yourself no doubt) believe that “evolution is only a theory”. Unless America can do something about the quality of its education and media, then millions of Americans will continue to believe that God blesses those who bless Israel, and God curses those who curse Israel (though blessing and cursing both seem pretty archaic practices). Apologies for disparaging your fellow citizens but then I bump into Richard Barnes regularly.

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          Bryan: Well I don’t know why you’re disparaging me like that, but I’ll respond. I was actually saying people who believe they are Christian Zionists are deluded if they think actual Zionists (as in the founders of Israel) care about them at all except as tools of Zionism.

          Reply to Comment
          • C. C. DeVille

            Bryan understood you. He was rightly calling you out for being ignorant.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bryan

            Average American: I was certainly not disparaging you, and apologize if I gave that impression, though I was being critical of the average Americans who are your countryfolk. (you perhaps adopted an unfortunate name in suggesting support for the 100 million plus who believe this nonsense). The alliance of unChristian Zionists and Christian Zionists (not made in hell but made for hell) is one of life’s absurdities – one side despising the other but gratefully accepting their support; the other side despising the one side but believing their return to Palestine is necessary for the one side to be destroyed or converted.

            Reply to Comment
    9. Bar

      This article misconstrues Bennett’s remarks about being okay killing Arabs. The writer should know because Bennett was angry and put out the full transcript of the comment showing he was speaking specifically about Arab combatants.

      Reply to Comment
        • BigCat

          Brian/”aco”, you love nothing more than defaming brave Israeli soldiers who risk their own lives, sustain severe bodily injuries and/or get wheelchair-bound for life or killed in the most horrific manner defending the men, women and children of the Jewish State incl. ‘all those pencil pushers, sitting in their comfortable homes, writing “advice” to those soldiers spitting blood on the front lines’. The claims you make against Bennett are unsupported by facts and completely false. In fact, your only “evidence” is a “he-said-she-said” article from Mairav Zonszein. Here is something for you to read and educate yourself a little more on the subject: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/Was-Naftali-Bennett-responsible-for-a-massacre-of-Lebanese-civilians-386787

          Reply to Comment
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