Former prime minister Naftali Bennett’s mother said Thursday that she supported her son’s decision to take a rabbi to court for falsely claiming she was not Jewish.
“When it first came out about six months ago I was shocked,” Myrna Bennet told 103FM Radio. “I thought about my parents who moved to the United States from Poland because of pogroms while half of their families were held by Nazis.”
“I thought it would pass but now I’m seeing it turn into a fact for people who want to believe it,” she said.
The NIS 1 million (over $292,000) lawsuit filed by Bennett on Tuesday claims that Rabbi Ronen Shaulov’s accusations and “appalling epithets and curses” have been seen by at least 700,000 people. Shaulov has more than 150,000 followers across various social media platforms.
Bennett has also pointed out that when users conduct a Google search for his mother’s name, the algorithm suggests they add the words “Christian” or “convert” to the search, indicating how widespread the claim has become. Shaulov’s lie about Bennett’s parents “took deep hold” among a significant segment of the population, the lawsuit alleges.
“My life is very interesting,” Myrna said in her interview. “Suddenly, I stopped being Jewish.”
“People who know me, nice people, called me and told me things like: ‘Good for you, we didn’t know you were a convert.’ I told them: ‘Trust me, If I were a convert I would be proud of it, but I wasn’t,'” she added.
She said she supported her son in seeking justice but indicated she wasn’t sure how effective the move would prove.
“I don’t know if one can change lies that run so deep, but I’m very proud of him for doing it. When I saw that rabbi on TV I was even prouder. That person said that I, Myrna, am not Jewish. You can look it up on Google, he said it.”
According to a statement from Bennett, his mother — both of whose parents come from generations of Jews, some of whom “were murdered in the Holocaust for being Jewish” — received “many inquiries over the past year in regard to doubts about her Judaism.”
Such questions “brought her great pain and sadness,” he said.
In recent days, Bennett has filed a series of lawsuits against political activists, journalists and rabbis who he claims made defamatory accusations against him and his parents while he was in office.
The former prime minister said that he had opted against pursuing any defamation suits during his tenure, but now feels an obligation to counter “the spread of lies that poison public discourse.”