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Hareidi Group Pushes, Insults Bennett at Kotel

Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett was attacked by a large group of hareidi Jews on a visit to the Western Wall Monday
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/21/2013, 5:11 PM

Naftali Bennett at the Kotel Monday
Naftali Bennett at the Kotel Monday
Hezki Ezra

Jewish Home Party leader Naftali Bennett was attacked by a large group of hareidi Jews on a visit to the Western Wall Monday. As he attempted to say prayers at the Kotel, Hareidim began pushing him and yelling at him. A riot nearly broke out between many people at the Kotel who support Bennett and the hareidi groups who were attacking him.

The background to the hareidi attack is apparently the Jewish Home Party's stance that all Israelis, including hareidi, must serve in the IDF in some capacity,except for those who are in the yeshiva studying Torah all day. Among the catcalls hurled at Bennett were “take off your kippa, you are not Jewish,” “garbage,” and similar insults – some unprintable.

Bennett had come to the Kotel to pray for success in Tuesday's election. When he first arrived he was greeted by hundreds of supporters who surrounded him, hoping to shake his hand or give him their good wishes.

Bennett had arrived with a security contingent, and members of the contingent kept the hareidi men at bay. Bennett continued with his visit, later going to the office of Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.

On Saturday night, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef slammed Bennett and the Jewish Home Party, calling them “non-religious. They come to uproot the Torah. Those who elect them deny the Torah, this is the Jewish Home? This is the Jewish Home of the gentiles.They come to promote civil marriage, to promote public transportation on Shabbat, these are religious people? You cannot call them religious, you must not vote for them,” he said.

In response, Jewish Home said in a statement that the party's goal was “to be a bridge between the parts of society and we will continue to do so. If we are being attacked by all parties at the same time, it must mean we are doing something right.”

Former MK Rabbi Chaim Druckman, venerable head of the Bnei Akiva yeshiva network and Or Etzion hesder yeshiva, accused the three leaders of Shas of misleading their 92 year old Torah sage and giving him false information. He said that he knew the Bayit Yehudi candidates personally and that they were Torah observant Jews and included seriousTorah scholars and rabbis.

Even Ayelet Shaked, the first woman and so-called secular candidate on the list,  is not really secular and observes much Jewish tradition, although she is not normatively religious.