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Bennett: 'Not Bothered By Angry Shouts'

Israel's Economy Minister says he is pursuing 'the correct path' and is at ease with some of the verbal abuse he has had to take.
By Adam Ross
First Publish: 10/3/2013, 10:30 PM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Economy Minister MK Naftali Bennett, says he has come to expect harsh criticism after taking public office.

The Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) Chairman received a barrage of verbal abuse as he was surrounded by angry youths when he left Jerusalem's International Conference Center Wednesday night. "That is the price a public servant has to pay," Bennett told Army Radio Thursday.

Bennett had been attending the "One State for One Nation" convention, which called on the Israeli government to ignore the pressure and threats from the world and to continue to build new communities in Judea and Samaria.

As he left the event, dozens of angry youths drew near him and accused him of planning to evict settlements in Judea and Samaria, with others attacking him over the issue of army conscription for hareidi yeshiva (religious academy) students.

Bennett told Army Radio that there had been protests for months outside his home, as well, and added, "when you decide to enter public life, you need to be ready for it."

He said although he understood the pain of the people, he was pursuing "a path that I believe is right, so I can live with the fact that a few people are shouting at me."

Regarding the enlistment of hareidi religious Jews to the IDF, Bennett said, "we are going in the right direction, and in doing so, avoiding a major explosion of historical proportions in the near future." He added that he was "less obsessive about the issue of conscription" of hareidim, because "it's more important to me that they go out to work, both hareidim and Arab women."

Bayit Yehudi's Ayelet Shaked is currently chairing the committee responsible for setting a formula for enlistment of hareidi men into military service, and limiting the number of exemptions that are granted in order to pursue Torah studies. "When you believe you are doing the right thing" he said, "you pay the price with gladness."

Regarding the reduction of the budget for yeshivot, which had caused uproar among both hareidi and religious Zionist communities, Bennett said his party, Bayit Yehudi had solved the problem by introducing new criteria for funding.

Support for Netanyahu

Bennett added that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the United Nations earlier in the week was the right approach and said there was no opposition to Netanyahu in the Knesset with regard to the Iranian issue. "Everyone stood behind the prime minister," he stated.