After minister alleges attack by protester, video appears to show her as aggressor

Likud’s May Golan says she and her mother were assaulted at the airport, but unedited footage shows the politician pushing the protester back and her mom trying to throw punches

Minister May Golan, left, argues with a protester at Ben-Gurion airport on August 7, 2023. (screen capture: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Minister May Golan, left, argues with a protester at Ben-Gurion airport on August 7, 2023. (screen capture: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

A government minister and her elderly mother got in a physical altercation with a protester at Ben Gurion Airport Monday, the latest minor scuffle between coalition lawmakers and activists seeking to halt the overhaul of the judiciary.

In the telling of Likud’s May Golan, minister for the advancement of women, she and her mother, 76, were attacked by “anarchists” who injured her hand while in the airport’s Terminal 1.

“The minister used her body to protect her mother from the two anarchists who were cursing, yelling and threatening,” read a statement from Golan’s office, accompanied by a heavily edited video of the exchange.

However, other footage from the scene painted a starkly different picture, showing Golan being physically held back from charging at the protesters and her mother taking a swing at the pair and picking up a chair as if to throw it.

Golan was at a table next to a Burger King in the terminal waiting to board a flight abroad with her mother when they confronted by a woman shouting at Golan that “you are a collaborator with the dictatorship against the rights of women.”

In the video posted by Golan’s office, the protesters appear to confront Golan’s mother as the minister is held back from coming to her aid. In it, she yells “up until my mother,” indicating that activists had crossed a line by engaging with her mom.

In an unedited version of the confrontation posted online by another person filming, however, Golan can be seen repeatedly sticking her hand in the protester’s face and pushing her with her body, forcing the woman to retreat.

Golan is then pushed away from the protester by security guards, who are forced to physically stop her from running back at the woman, who continues shouting.

Moments later, Golan’s mother is seen trying to punch the woman and another person, making slight contact. The mother is later seen picking up a chair and threatening several times to throw it while yelling that her daughter will be prime minister.

As the video ends, several people in the terminal shout “shame” as Golan appear to be led away.

Her office claimed that “As the situation ended, half the terminal stood up and applauded Minister Golan, who refused to vacate the spot.”

Despite the footage, Golan has continued to maintain that she had been attacked, claiming that the video showing her and her mother as the aggressors had been edited.

The mother of May Golan picks up a chair as if it to throw it at Ben-Gurion airport on August 7, 2023. (screen capture: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

“It has become so fashionable to film while the Phalangists are sent to troll and create provocations – they know how to edit demagogic, false and populist videos and distribute them,” she tweeted Monday. “It is interesting that the part where a terminal full of people stood and applauded me was cut.” The reference to Phalangists appeared to be a typo for a Hebrew word for factionalists.

On Sunday night, Golan was filmed waving a Likud flag next to a car in Afula as protesters yelled from nearby. In the film, she is seen walking unmolested next to an armed guard with protesters at least a dozen yards away and her car undamaged, but claimed that during the incident in Afula protesters attacked her with wooden poles, cursed and threatened her and tried to break her car’s windows.

Protesters against the government’s plans to overhaul the judiciary have made a habit of demonstrating against politicians outside their homes at events they attend, or if they are seen on the street, leading to a number of testy exchanges. In May, MK Simcha Rothman, one of the architects of the overhaul, snatched a megaphone away from a protester while walking in New York City, drawing wide criticism.

Golan, a Tel Aviv native, first made a name for herself campaigning for the expulsion of African asylum-seekers, an issue she has continued to champion despite accusations of racism. In 2012, she sarcastically told a rally in South Tel Aviv that if her claim that migrants were raping and killing Israelis was racist, then “I am proud of being a racist.”

MK May Golan during a discussion and a vote on the “Citizenship Law” at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on February 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In 2013, Golan ran for Knesset on the list of the Otzma L’Yisrael party, a precursor to the Otzma Yehudit party but failed to win a seat. She more recently joined the Likud party, serving briefly in the Knesset in 2019 before re-entering parliament in 2020 and remaining ever since.

Throughout, she has promoted the image of herself as a far-right rabble-rouser who refuses to be muzzled. In 2021, she told the Israel Hayom daily that she did not plan to moderate her speech as a lawmaker, labeling herself “the mother of politically incorrect.”

In May, her name was mentioned as a possible nominee for consul to New York, but the idea was taken off the table when liberal Jewish leaders in the US and the US President Joe Biden’s administration protested the posting over her past incendiary rhetoric.

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