MK Orit Struk
MK Orit StrukIsrael news photo: Flash 90

MK Orit Struk (Bayit Yehudi) expressed her complete support Sunday for the Rabbi of Kiryat Arba-Hevron, Rabbi Dov Lior, in the emotional controversy between the rabbi's supporters and MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua). Speaking in the Knesset plenum Wednesday, MK Stern accused the rabbi of making derogatory comments about Ethiopian Jews and questioning their Jewishness. Two days later, a youth in MK Stern's synagogue spat in his face and said he was doing it in response to Stern's accusations against Rabbi Lior. 

MK Struk said Sunday that what MK Stern did "was, in a way, to spit in the face of Rabbi Dov Lior."

"Elazar Stern needs to ask Rabbi Lior for forgiveness for defaming him baselessly in a way that contradicts the truth and reality," MK Struk told Nonstop Radio.

"I have had the privilege of being Rabbi Lior's neighbor for 31 years in Kiryat Arba-Hevron," she said. "In our community, we have very many Jews who are olim from Ethiopia and there is no community in Israel in which the Ethiopian Jews have become such an integral part of the community."

Struk said that she cannot justify the act of spitting in MK Stern's face, "but how can one refrain from responding when an elected official speaks slander from the Knesset podium and everyone is OK with it?"

"When Elazar Stern lies, or at the very least makes a serious mistake, let him go on air and apologize for besmirching a great rabbi," she demanded.

The matter has become a heated confrontation between Bayit Yehudi and Hatnua, and Rabbi Lior's supporters dispute that the rabbi ever said what Stern claims he said.

On Saturday night, sources close to Livni caused further anger among Bayit Yehudi supporters with a statement claiming, “The spit in the face of IDF General Elazar Stern came from the mouth of [Bayit Yehudi head] Naftali Bennett and his gang."

The statement went on to charge, “It is the Bayit Yehudi that prefers construction in settlements over any other national interest, or security interest.”

Minister Amir Peretz made similar accusations in an interview with Voice of Israel public radio. He warned that “incitement” against Livni and her party among the Bayit Yehudi party could lead to disaster. What begins with a spit in the face could end in murder, he declared.