Days after Israeli writer Yehonatan Geffen was attacked at his home in Netanya following remarks calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “racist,” singer Achinoam Nini said she was verbally assaulted at Ben Gurion Airport upon her arrival in Israel from Italy.
Nini described the alleged attack in a Facebook post late Sunday: “I got back after a few days in Italy. A beautiful welcome was awaiting me at the airport: “There’s Achinoam Nini, destroyer of Israel,” people called out. “We’ll take care of you like we did Geffen,” they said. “Welcome to the nightmare we all woke up to.”
Nini is known for her outspoken left-wing remarks, coexistence endeavors and criticism of the Netanyahu-led government.
Zahava Gal-on, head of the left-wing Meretz party, which won 5 seats in national elections last week, said that the two incidents, days apart, involving attacks on left-wing Israeli artists was no coincidence.
“It is not by chance that these attacks occurred days after Netanyahu’s victory at the polls. The prime minister, who thinks he can say whatever he likes to get elected, including wild inciting remarks, is either dumb or doesn’t care about the consequences. And Bibi [Netanyahu] is not dumb. There is no way back from [his] inciting remarks toward the Left and toward Israeli Arabs,” she wrote on Facebook.
In the 11th hour of his campaign for reelection last Tuesday, Netanyahu rallied right-wing supporters by saying that “the Arabs” were heading to the ballot boxes “in droves” and said the Left was “busing them in.” The remarks angered many in Israel and across the world, prompting accusations of race-baiting on the part of the PM for votes.
On Friday, Geffen was attacked in his home in central Israel by an unknown individual on Friday, two days after he had called the prime minister a racist and commented bitterly on the election result.
Geffen, father of rock musician Aviv Geffen and actress/filmmaker Shira Geffen, answered the door to his Netanya residence on Friday afternoon to an unknown person who immediately began punching the 68-year-old, throwing eggs at him and calling him a “traitor,” Geffen told police.
Geffen was not badly hurt in the attack, but was reported to have been deeply traumatized by it.
Following Netanyahu’s reelection on Tuesday, Geffen addressed a crowd in Tel Aviv to express his concern over the country’s future. “Congratulations to the Emperor for being reelected again,” Geffen said.
“He hasn’t crushed us enough. Another four years of divisiveness, divisiveness, divisiveness. I don’t mind telling you that I am very sad and could not sleep all night. March 17 will prove to be a Nakba for the peace camp,” Geffen said, using the Arabic word for “Catastrophe” that is commonly used in the Arab world to describe the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.
Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett called the attack “a cowardly and barbaric act” on Saturday.
Bennett wrote on Twitter that “a man of words should be answered with words, not (violence).”
“Yehonatan, go home and feel better,” he wrote, paraphrasing Geffen’s famous song “Yehonatan, Go Home.”