MK Stav Shafir
MK Stav Shafir Hadas Parush/Flash 90

MK Stav Shafir (Labor / Zionist Union) doubled down Monday on her claim that Jewish history began in Egypt – although she later changed "Egypt" to "Mount Sinai."

The statement was originally made in a tweet that argued with Education Minister Naftali Bennett's assertion that Jewish history began in Jerusalem, as he announced his plan to celebrate Jerusalem in the coming educational year.

"As a proud secular, Zionist Jewish woman, I feel no need to get lessons from Bennett on Jewish heritage," she proclaimed.

In her Facebook account, Shafir wrote that "the Nation of Israel was born in Sinai and not Jerusalem, and with good reason. This nation's greatness is the values that shape it. Its greatness is in the journey to the Promised Land, which is not just a place, but first and foremost – an ideal."

Shafir was undaunted by the nationalist criticism of her statement. "Judaism belongs to all of us, but Bennett and his friends think they have a monopoly over it, for some reason," she insisted.  "We have already gotten used to the education minister's distortions and omissions. Now it turns out that he is even willing to distort the Torah in the service of his nationalistic ideology."

She continued: "That is why Bennett claimed that the history of the Nation of Israel began in Jerusalem. But the Torah itself tells a different story: The Nation of Israel underwent formation in Egypt, and solidification at Mount Sinai. In fact, the Torah itself says when Israel became a nation. In the Book of Dvarim (Deuteronomy), it is written: 'Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God.' The commentators are divided as to the time and place, but in any case, according to Scripture, the place is not Jerusalem."

The freshman MK took another dig at Bennett and said: "So, be silent and listen, Bennett: facts have importance in politics as well, not just populism. But the most interesting question is – why does this question give rise to such a storm today, in 2016, when the nation of Israel has a state and a strong army, sovereignty and independence? Does the fact that the Nation of Israel gathered at Mount Sinai and not in Jerusalem take away from our right to build a home in the state of Israel, and establish our capital in Jerusalem?"

Shafir accused Bennett for insisting on "pushing a very specific kind of Judaism into our children's schools, and this dialogue shows exactly what kind. This is not 'the Torah has 70 faces,' but a Torah subjugated to Bennett's nationalistic worldview."

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