Video: Naftali Bennett stands by party member who raised idea of destroying the Dome of the Rock

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Check out this knockout interview with Naftali Bennett on an Israeli news program. The interviewer tried pinning him down on a statement made by Jeremy Gimpel, a candidate from his HaBayit HaYehudi party (Jewish Home party), about blowing up the Dome of the Rock. The clip has gone viral in Israel and there have been calls to disqualify Gimpel over his statements. As a result Bennett has come under pressure to drop Gimpel from his list but he’s having none of it.

Talk about slick, this guy is very talented and slippery. Check out how masterfully he flips the interview, addressing Netanyahu directly and blaming him for leaking the story (which may be right, who knows!). Bennett even drags Rabin’s assassination into the mix. Translation by Dena Shunra, and don’t miss the opening line here, beginning at 3:08 after Gimpel’s clip:

Bennett: I stand behind all my people…. He’s a guy who ‘made aliyah’, he’s behind a system of hasbara that for years has brought millions of dollars to the state of Israel, and I am proud of Jeremy Gimpel.

Interviewer: Are you also proud of a man who expresses some kind of hope that the ‘Temple Mount’ will explode? That means people will blow it up.

Bennett: That was a bible lesson, more than a year ago, in America [gestures, indicating ‘way over in America’], where he tried to explain, in theory, what would happen if it were not there.

Interviewer: No-no-no, ‘if they explode the Temple mount’, not..

Bennett: He didn’t call for it – even if you say that fourteen times, it is not right.

Interviewer: So look at the next clip from him.

3:52-4:00 in English.

Interviewer: Is this a person who could be included in something that you define as a *center* party?

Bennett: Did you ask Shelly Yechimovitz, who is willing to include Merav Michaeli, who called for mothers not to send their children to Zahal [the Israeli Army]?

Interviewer: Is it the same thing – to insult the ally, or say “explode the Temple Mount”?

Bennett: He didn’t say explode the…

Interviewer: He said it would explode…

Bennett: And I want to tell you that saying that to mothers is much worse. I want to tell you that every Saturday evening I emerge [from the Sabath electronics break] to another discovery by [journalist] Amnon Abramovitz and by Channel 2, but the person who is really behind this whole thing is – from the very beginning of the campaign – is prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Who opened an ugly campaign against the crocheted yarmulka [Orthodox Nationalist], to an extent that I have never seen before.

Interviewer’s face ( briefly, 4:42)

Bennett: He takes a person like Motty Yogev, squad leader in the General Headquarters reconnaissance platoon, regiment commander for the paratroopers – he portrays him as unenlightend. I want to say to Netanyahu [looks straight at the camera, 4:56] Mr. Prime Minister, you have signed your name under this underhanded campaign, it reminds me exactly of what was done to you, after Rabin’s murder, when you were associated with Kikar Zion and associated you with a demonstration in Ra’anana with a coffin, pretending as if that were a coffin for Rabin. Do you truly stand behind the call…

Interviewer (after having tried to get a word in edgewise, raises her voice): Naftali Bennet! Wait, you’ve addressed him enough. OK, now I ask…

Then they veer off into a conversation about how much Bennett does or doesn’t support Netanyahu.

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