(photo credit: ULPANEI REHOVOT)
Desperate right and leftwing extremists are trying to “burn down our house,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Thursday in a speech to university students.
Bennett delivered a guest lecture to undergraduate students in a course called “Israeli Identity”, taught by Attorney Eldad Yaniv, director of the Institute for Social Responsibility at the Peres Academic Center in Rehovot.
Israel is divided between “an optimistic Zionist majority that believes in the State of Israel and a desperate and extremist minority,” Bennett said.
“Why do you think they carried out the attack in Duma?” he asked the students, referring to the murder of a Palestinian family by Jewish right-wing extremists who burned down their house in a West Bank village in July.
“The aim was not murder; that was just the means. We are talking about people who have given up on persuading the people of Israel of their positions and they want to bring our house down upon us. They’re trying to burn down our house,” Bennett said.
Bennett said the extreme left-wing was engaging in this “same dynamic.”
“Consider the person who served as director-general of the Foreign Ministry [Dr. Alon Liel] who briefs leftist groups such as ‘Breaking the Silence’ and B’Tselem and encourages them to create disturbances among Arabs so that there will be pictures to convince the world to boycott us,” Bennett said.
He urged “moderate forces” from across the political spectrum in Israeli society to “lead and make their voices heard.”
“Exactly in these situations we need to identify what unites rather than take groups of people and confront them against each other,” he said.
“Most importantly we must not besmirch an entire population because of minorities on both sides: Not to discredit all the Arabs of Israel and not to discredit all the Right and not to discredit all the Tel Avivians,” he said.
The education minister said “Israel’s destiny is the destiny of the Jewish state.”
“I want Israel to be a country which is proud of being Jewish, a state that is in contact with world Jewry. There are millions of Jews around the world that we are not in touch with and we are losing them.” Bennett said.
A student asked Bennett about his decision last month to ban Breaking the Silence group from schools.
Bennett accused the group comprised largely of former IDF soldiers “tours around the world and slanders the State of Israel and the IDF.”
He also accused it of seeking “international boycotts against Israel,” an allegation the group denies.