Bennett files complaint over social media ‘incitement’

Bennett files complaint over social media ‘incitement’

Jewish Home leader calls in police over accusations that his ideology contributes to Jewish terrorism

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party speaks during a party meeting in the Israeli parliament on June 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party speaks during a party meeting in the Israeli parliament on June 15, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the Orthodox and right-wing Jewish Home party, lodged a complaint with police Wednesday, saying a flood of comments that were posted to his social media accounts amount to incitement.

Bennett and other right-wing lawmakers came under fire in the wake of two deadly incidents last week, with political opponents accusing them of contributing to an atmosphere of intolerance. This attitude, they say, led to the attack at the gay pride parade in which 16-year-old Shira Banki was fatally stabbed by an ultra-Orthodox Jew on Thursday, and the firebombing of a home in the West Bank village of Duma that killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha early Friday. It is suspected that extremist Jewish settlers perpetrated that attack.

Just after the attacks, Bennett attempted to make an appearance at a Saturday night rally against incitement and racism in Tel Aviv, only to be turned away by event organizers after he refused to sign a document committing himself to promote LGBTQ rights.

Critics were further enraged at Bennett’s perceived lax stance on Jewish extremism following his reaction to a recent ruling by the High Court of Justice calling for the demolition of two Israeli buildings built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank Settlement of Beit El last week.

Delivering an impassioned speech from a grocery store roof in the settlement, Bennett praised demonstrators who came to protest the demolition, saying, “The answer to terror is to build settlements, and not to be cowards. You, my brothers, are continuing this path. We know that the Land of Israel is acquired through suffering.”

Social media users were quick to claim that despite Bennett’s public condemnation of both attacks, his ideology and recent activities directly contributed to them.

“Naftali Bennett, the blood you have on your hands cannot be washed away,” a user named Ami wrote.

“You kill people,” another said.

“You probably had a nice Shabbat. After all, two birds were just killed with one stone,” a user named Roni wrote. “That degenerate Schlissel dropped four people at the LGBT parade in Jerusalem… The work of God is done by others — isn’t that right, Mr. Bennett? Meanwhile your parasites burned an entire Palestinian family — a real Shabbat pleasure!!!”

A meme created by the left-wing group Breaking the Silence shows Bennett delivering his rooftop speech in Beit El next to a picture of the deceased Palestinian toddler with a caption that reads, “We call upon our leaders to take responsibility for the consequences of their intolerant words and actions!”

After the stabbing during the gay pride parade in Jerusalem yesterday, along with the horrifying terror attack this…

Posted by Breaking the Silence on Friday, 31 July 2015

A statement put out by the Jewish Home party on Wednesday said the deluge of negative comments on Bennett’s Facebook page were an attempt to “divert the discussion and place sole responsibility on MK Bennett.

“Even freedom of expression has its limits, and that limit is incitement to harm the other,” the statement said.

According to Jewish Home officials, the party filed a complaint with the police.

Bennett’s complaint comes two days after police opened an investigation into online videos that depicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin as Nazis. The videos were the latest in a string of internet memes attacking the president for his harsh criticism of Jewish extremists.

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