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      Bennett: Kerry is not Anti-Semitic

      Jewish Home leader distances himself from a statement by MK Moti Yogev attacking top US diplomat.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 2/17/2014, 6:14 PM

      Naftali Bennett
      Naftali Bennett
      Flash 90

      Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett distanced himself Monday from a recent statement by a party Knesset member, MK Moti Yogev, who said that the pressure that US Secretary of State John Kerry has been placing on Israel to soften its stance in the Middle East peace talks is “obsessive” and possibly contains “anti-Semitic overtones.”

      Bennett said that Kerry is not anti-Semitic and that whoever says he is is wrong. He added that the Israeli friendship with the US is a strategic one, but that the two countries can agree to disagree.

      Bennett was addressing the Presidents' Committee in Jerusalem.

      The rookie minister added that he believes that the talk about a boycott on Israel is “the new anti-Semitism” and does not constitute criticism by a friend. It is permitted to criticize Israel, he said, but placing a boycott on it is an anti-Semitic action.

      Kerry’s brother took the unusual step Sunday of writing an op-ed defending him against the accusations by Yogev and other Israeli politicians. 

      Cameron Kerry, who converted to Judaism, wrote in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth that charges of anti-Semitism leveled at his brother “would be ridiculous if they weren’t so vile.”

      As for the possibility of signing a peace accord with the Palestinian Authority (PA) – Bennett said that a retreat from Judea and Samaria will bring in its wake similar results to the ones engendered by the retreat from Gaza – i.e., rocket fire at civilians. “Our children will pay the price,” he added. Bennett said that while Israel is not perfect, it is”a lighthouse” at the heart of the storm that engulfs the Middle East.

      Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon reportedly accused Kerry of being naïve and of taking an “obsessive” and “messianic” approach to the “peace talks.”