Bennett booed, called a ‘Nazi’ at left-wing confab

Education minister accosted by participant on sidelines of Haaretz conference, jeered during speech; president rebukes audience for ‘inappropriate’ conduct

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a ceremony in Jerusalem's Old City, May 28, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a ceremony in Jerusalem's Old City, May 28, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, was accosted on Monday on the sidelines of the Haaretz conference in Tel Aviv by a participant who called him a “Nazi.”

The right-wing politician was heckled earlier by the crowd at the annual gathering hosted by the left-wing newspaper.

“I think you’re the most dangerous politician this country has ever, ever known,” an unidentified woman with a British accent told Bennett afterward, according to footage posted on Twitter by a Knesset Channel reporter.

“I met you, I had a conversation with you, and I heard what your program was,” she said. “You told me you don’t want two states, you told me you have no problem… with apartheid,” she added, raising her voice.

“You are a Nazi and you are the most horrible politician this country has ever known,” she concluded.

Bennett, in his address, had said “a unified Jerusalem is preferable to a diplomatic [peace] deal,” setting off jeers and boos from the crowd.

“Let me speak, like you would let [Marwan] Barghouti speak,” Bennett shot back, referring to the jailed Palestinian terrorist and Fatah leader.

Photos posted on social media showed an audience member raising her hand during Bennett’s speech, in an apparent Nazi salute.

“The left does not have a monopoly on peace,” the minister said. “I want peace no less than you do, but I want a right-wing peace,” he added, which he said will “not come through territorial concessions, but from [a position of] strength.”

“We are fated to live with the Palestinians,” Bennett said. “There is no great love between us but they aren’t going anywhere and we aren’t going anywhere.”

Addressing the annual confab later in the day, President Reuven Rivlin rebuked the crowd for heckling the minister.

“The heckles that were heard here against the education minister are unfortunate and inappropriate. I want to express my appreciation, to the members of Knesset and ministers, especially those on the right of the political map who faced much pressure but insisted on their right and duty to come here – to listen and to be heard,” said the president.

In her remarks, New Israel Fund president Tali Sasson also referenced Bennett’s presence at the gathering.

“The only good thing that I can say about his speech that he came and spoke at a conference that was funded by the New Israel Fund,” she said.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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