Gafni Tells MK to 'Shut Up' in 'Battle Royale'

MKs Moshe Gafni (United Torah Jewry) and Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) accused each other of hatred, slander, and worse in a Knesset meeting

David Lev ,

MK Moshe Gafni
MK Moshe Gafni
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Fresh off the Tisha B'av fast, MKs Moshe Gafni (United Torah Jewry) and Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid) staged a battle royale at a session of the Knesset Control Committee on Wednesday.

During the loud altercation, Gafni and Calderon shouted at each other, with the former demanding that the latter “shut up,” and the latter accusing Gafni of failing to learn the lessons of Tisha B'av, especially the ones that relate to “baseless hatred” and slanderous talk.

The background to the altercation involved a demand by hareidi MKs to sever the tie between funding for hareidi educational institutions in the Arrangements Law – which covers funding for projects and institutions not covered by the state budget, such as hareidi schools – and the government's demand that those schools teach basic skills in math, language, and English. Hareidi MKs and rabbinical leaders are generally opposed to this requirement, which was proposed by Yesh Atid MKs and is currently part of the proposed Arrangements Law.

Gafni, representing hareidi MKs of UTJ and Shas, said that including such a tenet in the law was inappropriate at this time, since it was included only to include MKs of Yesh Atid, whom he said would not be in the Knesset much longer anyway, “and will not sit in the next Knesset.” According to Gafni, “one woman MK in Yesh Atid recently told me that the party was run like North Korea, with MKs doing only what the leader says. This is what they say,” he said.

In response, Calderon – famous for using her inaugural speech to give her fellow MKs a lesson on the Talmud (the secular MK was a university professor in Talmud) – criticized Gafni for his comments.

“On the first day after Tisha B'av you spread 'baseless hatred,'” one of the sins that the Talmud states led to the destruction of the Second Temple. “I do not wish to hear your slanderous talk.”

In response, Gafni tells Calderon that she does not have to listen. The two then enter into a heated exchange, with other MKs chiming in as committee chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) futilely calling for order. At that point, Gafni tells Calderon to “shut up, shut your mouth,” with Levin accusing the two of “acting like children.”

In the video supplied by the Knesset Channel, MK Dov Lipman of Yesh Atid is seen taking off his kippah and thrusting it at Gafni, apparently in protest over his use of the term “shut up,” which he apparently felt was inappropriate for a religious/hareidi MK.