Yamina Knesset hopeful accused of anti-Arab racism over old tweet
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Yamina Knesset hopeful accused of anti-Arab racism over old tweet

Amid calls for her to step down, Roni Sassover says media distorting her 2018 remark conveying the sentiment that the only good Arab is a dead Arab

New Right Knesset hopeful Roni Sassover. (Facebook)
New Right Knesset hopeful Roni Sassover. (Facebook)

A Yamina party candidate for Knesset, Roni Sassover, was accused of racism this week after a racist anti-Arab tweet from last February resurfaced in the media.

Sassover, a secular lawyer who describes herself as “a settler from Tel Aviv,” is ninth on the electoral slate of the right-wing party headed by Ayelet Shaked. Based on current polls, Sassover has a fairly good chance of being elected to the 22nd Knesset.

Sassover, a political newcomer who ran for Knesset in April with the New Right party — which failed to pass the electoral threshold and is now part of Yamina — was subject to scrutiny by the media and public in recent days after an in-depth interview with Channel 13 in which she flubbed questions about Israel and its settlement policies.

Twitter users quickly found a tweet of hers following a deadly stabbing attack in the West Bank in February 2018.

“My grandmother — who immigrated to Israel after the Holocaust and was a lifelong Labor voter — used to have a few permanent catchphrases: 1. The only good Arab is … 2. If you turn your back on an Arab he will put a knife in it, and 3. Date whoever you like, but only marry a Jew.”

The ellipses were apparently meant to convey “is a dead Arab.”

She ended the post by saying: “Grandmas are always right.”

Arab Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi (United List) on Monday slammed Sassover’s remarks, while other Twitter users called for her to be banned from the September elections.

“So what does she have planned to realize her grandmother’s will? Concentration camps, carpet bombings?” he posted on Twitter. “This is proof that if your dad is rich you can buy yourself a seat in the Knesset, but it can’t buy you a brain.”

Sassover defended her tweet about Arabs in a statement Sunday, accusing media outlets of taking her remark out of context.

“The tweet was in reference to an incident in which a terrorist stabbed a Jewish bystander in Ariel,” she said. “Obviously it was made about Arab terrorists, not all Arabs,” Sassover told Channel 12 in a statement.

“Journalists went to the extra effort to cut out [the tweet’s] context,” her statement said.

In another, more recent tweet, Sassover blasted Blue and White’s Yair Lapid for his satirical campaign video portraying senior ultra-Orthodox politicians as venal and corrupt, implicitly comparing the position to that of Nazi Germany.

“The ultra-Orthodox are a blessed and inseparable part of Israeli society. This uncontrollable need to constantly make them a punching bag reminds me of policies enacted by certain countries some years ago,” Sassover posted last week.

Sassover was backed by New Right’s former co-leader Naftali Bennett over the weekend after an interview in which she appeared to display little knowledge of settlements or the movement’s history.

“I’m very proud that Roni Sassover is representing the New Right, and I know the vast majority of the religious Zionist camp feels the same way,” he wrote. “In order to love Israel, you don’t have to know the location of [West Bank archaeological sites], or the first names of [famous rabbis] or know [bible verses by heart].”

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