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

on 21 Comments

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.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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21 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka on January 21, 2013, 1:54 pm

    Well, I’ve always said that the zionists were a Duce short of being truly fascist. It looks like they have someone who’se applying for the job.

    • annie on January 21, 2013, 2:03 pm

      it just cracks me up. the way he segues from blowing up the holy site to lecturing netanyahu by looking straight into the camera! i thought it was masterful campaign slickatude.

      • Shmuel on January 21, 2013, 2:47 pm

        i thought it was masterful campaign slickatude.

        Maybe it loses something in the translation, but I thought it came across more as a novice’s botched attempt at “slickatude” than the real thing. Shouting “smear job” when you’re in a tight spot is a political classic, but Bennet’s delivery was way off.

      • annie on January 21, 2013, 3:36 pm

        ok shmuel, i’ll defer to your judgement especially since i don’t understand hebrew. i like chu’s ‘race to the bottom’ take on it. in case you didn’t pick up my drift, it’s not as if i like the guy, but obviously a bunch of israelis think he’s the cats meow. he’s obviously got chutzpa, leaping to gimpel’s defense by channeling rabin’s murder is a tad creative don’t you think?
        whoda thunk? maybe there’s some back story i am missing.

      • Shmuel on January 21, 2013, 3:56 pm

        in case you didn’t pick up my drift, it’s not as if i like the guy

        I got that :-)

        but obviously a bunch of israelis think he’s the cats meow

        So the polls say – loud and clear. I spoke to a relative in Israel a few minutes ago, who told me that she knows far too many people who will vote for him and that he is the most dangerous candidate of all (saying a lot).

        channeling rabin’s murder is a tad creative don’t you think?

        The religious right is still smarting from its “demonisation” after Rabin’s assassination and, in a way, Bennet is their vindication. That’s certainly been on a lot of minds during this campaign. The creative part was in his making Netanyahu both victim (along with the national-religious) and demoniser (of the national-religious today). I think it was more than a tad forced, but as I said, he wasn’t talking to me.

        I will say that he looked good compared to the interviewer, who was a total disaster.

  2. Shmuel on January 21, 2013, 2:05 pm

    Talk about slick, this guy is very talented and slippery.

    I watched the whole interview, and he struck me as a bully who clumsily dodged every question about his own candidates by repeatedly mentioning their army service and pointing out all the ‘traitors’ in Labour. The way he remembered to pepper his tough talk with a periodic “we’re just nice guys who want to do good” was also very artificial and unconvincing.

    Then again, I’m not exactly his target audience ;-)

    • sydnestel on January 21, 2013, 4:54 pm

      I agree with Shmuel’s take – but as he said, neither he nor I are Bennet’s target audience. The fact is, if the polls are correct, he is reaching way beyond the traditional National Religious base, and stealing votes from “non religious” rightist and centrists. A friend, who just returned from a month in Israel tells me that, young secular kids in Tel Aviv are saying they will vote for him – because he’s ‘cool’: rich, young, and can use facebook!

      • annie on January 21, 2013, 5:07 pm

        reaching way beyond the traditional National Religious base, and stealing votes from “non religious” rightist and centrists. A friend, who just returned from a month in Israel tells me that, young secular kids in Tel Aviv are saying they will vote for him –

        sydnestel, i mentioned in my earlier article he had a ‘pied piper effect’ on israeli youth and seculars.

        i was reading the wiki page on ‘neo zionism’ this morning, seems to be his nitch.
        It has evolved in parallel with Revisionist Zionism and Religious Zionism of which it is a fusion of the two

      • seanmcbride on January 21, 2013, 5:22 pm


        It has evolved in parallel with Revisionist Zionism and Religious Zionism of which it is a fusion of the two.

        Smart. A whole lot of complex intellectual history compressed into a single accurate sentence.

      • annie on January 21, 2013, 5:51 pm

        those neos, they’ve really corner the market sean.

  3. seafoid on January 21, 2013, 2:50 pm

    They all do the persecution schtick when under pressure . Base communication. Yishai from shas was par excellence after the carmel fire . No dignity whatsoever.

  4. Chu on January 21, 2013, 3:13 pm

    Another evasive turd-blossom has emerged from the earth to bring
    Israeli politics down one more notch.
    Race to the bottom guys – aim for it and it’s yours!

  5. seafoid on January 21, 2013, 5:18 pm

    Maybe we should just call him Daft Ali.

  6. seafoid on January 21, 2013, 5:26 pm

    “Polls suggest one in three Knesset members will be religious and ultra-orthodox Jews and one in six West Bank settlers.”There will be an over-representation of the religious and ultra-orthodox – around one in three members of the Knesset, according to the latest polls,” said Ofer Kenig, of the Israel Democracy Institute. About one in five members of the last Knesset were religious or ultra-orthodox, he said.

    “This is a very significant change. The explanation is not necessarily the demographic growth of this sector but the success of religious parties in attracting support from secular and traditional voters.”

    He said there would be “a very high representation of Jewish settlers”, up to 20 of the 120 members of the Knesset. Among those expected to be elected is Orit Struck, a candidate for the ultra-nationalist Jewish Home party and a radical settler in the Palestinian city of Hebron.

    This week, she defended her son, who is serving an 18-month prison sentence for abducting and assaulting a 15-year-old Palestinian boy, causing severe injuries. “Zviki is my firstborn and is sitting in prison for no fault of his own, because of his Arab neighbours,” Struck told the NRG website.”

    I think this neo Judaism needs to be exposed to the world .

  7. Sin Nombre on January 21, 2013, 6:44 pm

    With re: the question of whether he’s slick, I think the question is whether he’s slick enough, and without even understanding Hebrew I think the answer is you bet.

    After all, if one had been prescient enough one would have predicted the ultimate rise of someone like Bennett. Most people here, that is, seem to agree that for a good deal of time (if not for 45+ years) the locomotive power determining Israel’s actions was essentially hiding its real project under one sham or another. (Most lately, a Two-State sham.)

    Well, at some point in time that sham had to be dropped, but the problem for the past carriers of same was that they were limited in their ability to claim that they were just conscious shammers. Even Sharon, after all, picked up the enmity of the crowd by vacating Gaza. And all the rest have all kinds of baggage of one sort or another, not least acquired when they tried to appease the U.S. on the settlements. (No matter how limited or in bad faith that appeasement was.)

    So eventually the force driving Israel was inevitably going to turn to some non-shammer, and it was likely that it would be some fresh face, with the kind of resume that was clean of past shamming, and be slick enough to present the land-aggrandizement project in some way short of appearing baldly Hitlerian.

    Thus and again the question is whether Bennett is slick enough, and again I think you bet. Absent some big big scandal, we’re gonna be seeing lots and lots of this guy methinks, for a long time.

  8. eGuard on January 21, 2013, 7:52 pm

    All fine, Mondoweiss. Now what is the Israel policy or political party that fits US liberal Zionism? What?

  9. ToivoS on January 22, 2013, 2:50 am

    Every Israeli PM since 1948 have had to play the two-state charade. But it gets more and more difficult to do so because of domestic political pressure. I guess it was Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza that mobilized the ultra-right to the no more compromises position. Perhaps this is progress. When BDS campaigns in the West we can clearly show that Israeli actions are in complete disregard of international agreements and the explicit foreign policies all Western nations.

    Interesting times ahead if that comes to pass. Israeli diplomacy will have to be devoted to convincing the rest of the world to officially recognize WB annexation and apartheid. I guess the US will be the first country where that political fight will occur.

    I just sketched out the above by trying to extrapolate what Bennet’s rise could entail. It sounds just too insane. Politically it can’t work. Unless, of course there is another world war to distract everyone’s attention for about 10 years.

  10. Stephen Shenfield on January 22, 2013, 5:30 am

    Don’t lose sight of what this is all about — legitimizing advocacy of the halachic state. They want to blow up the Dome of the Rock because that is the site where they want to “rebuild” the Temple.

    • marc b. on January 22, 2013, 9:51 am

      legitimizing advocacy of the halachic state. They want to blow up the Dome of the Rock because that is the site where they want to “rebuild” the Temple.

      interesting point. naftali the theocratic terrorist. see thomas mann’s ‘the magic mountain’:

      Settembrini’s antagonist Naphta represents the forces of decay, collectivism, radicalism and extremism. His perspective combines several heterogeneous radical aspects that include fascism, anarchism, and communism. With brilliant intelligence he aims to unmask Settembrini’s values and ethics and leads them ad absurdum, “as if to prove that the Sun revolves around Earth.”

      In Mann’s original draft, Naphta was not planned but was added later, while the Weimar Republic was threatened by collectivistic radical ideologies from all sides, eventually leading to its failure. Hans Castorp famously tries to classify Naphta politically and comes to the conclusion that he was just as revolutionary as Settembrini – not in liberal, but in a conservative way. So he decides that Naphta was a Revolutionär der Erhaltung (revolutionist of conservation). This apparent oxymoron alludes to a heterogeneous movement of right wing intellectuals called the Conservative Revolution. The term, probably first adopted by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, was repeatedly used by Mann and is meant to be revolutionary in a reactionary sense: The movement was highly nationalistic and not only fought against the ideals of left-wing socialism, liberalism and enlightenment, but it also detested the lost Empire’s dull conservatism of the petty bourgeoisie and the aristocracy. The movement was somewhat elusive, flirting with every radicalism against established views. Thus, Naphta himself is conceived as a living contradiction in terms: An ex-Jewish Jesuit, anti-capitalist, hostile to modernity, freedom, individuality and progress, anarchic and theocratic. Naphta may have been modeled on George Lukács, the Hungarian Communist philosopher.

      elsewhere it’s argued that naphta most closely resembles leo strauss whose radical ideology (which rejects the half measures of carl schmitt, for example) is a “complete rejection of tradition”, an adoption of what’s called an ‘atheistic religion’, or secularism as the atheistic re-enactment of religion, a secularism which strauss positively attributes to national socialism. in other words, to put it crudely, like ben-gurion and other founders are said to have done, exploitation of bible myths for supposedly secular, material gain. (if this sounds like mumbo jumbo, that’s because it is, but that’s what these people apparently believe.)

  11. Palmyra on January 22, 2013, 1:29 pm

    This guy has really textbook skinhead mannerisms and I’m not talking about his haircut. The lead-in shots of him were really telling I thought. He behaves exactly like any over-the-hill racist failure with a younger, dumber coterie would. Race to the bottom indeed. Win!

  12. PilgrimSoul on January 22, 2013, 2:16 pm

    Christian Zionists have invested a great deal of emotion around blowing up the Dome of the Rock, because they think that’s what will start the big religious war that will bring Jesus back to earth. Intellectuals tend to miss this sort of thing, because it’s so totally irrational–that is, so totally off the liberal radar. But extremists know that it’s an effective way of focusing all that hate and aggression around a single act, one that changes the world, and brings about the maximum destruction that Late Zionism and right-wing Christian evangelicalism long for.

    It’s not just the religious nuts, sadly. There’s another reason that lays deep beneath the religious reasons given by the theocratic and rhetorical madmen. It’s that through a single act extremists can cause maximum anguish to the world’s Muslims, that through it they can inflict enormous pain, because once the destruction of this profoundly religious site begins Muslims will be helpless to stop it.

    Why do the Israelis support the desecration of Mamilla Cemetery, and the opening of ancient Muslim graves and the removal of remains? Because it is a way of showing utter contempt, and inflicting maximum pain. The sadness of this is that Mamilla and the Dome of the Rock (Masjid Qubbat As-Sakhrah) should be the proud possession of all Israelis, and of all humanity, because they are cultural treasures that reflect humanity’s search for spiritual truth. But the harsh religious nationalism that drives the current Israeli government does not seek to integrate Israel into the Middle East, but to dominate and insult it.

    Religious nationalism always seeks the same thing: maximum infliction of humiliation and distress on the identified enemy, then maximum destruction of friend and foe alike.

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