Bennett blasts Jewish leader over criticism of Israel in NY Times

Responding to WJC President Ronald Lauder’s recent op-ed blaming Israeli policies for Jewish assimilation in America, Minister Naftali Bennett said, “Not a great piece.” 

By: Ebin Sandler, World Israel News

Business leader, philanthropist, and World Jewish Congress (WJC) head Ronald Lauder wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times arguing that assimilation and indifference to Israel in the Diaspora are the product of the Jewish state’s positions on Judea and Samaria and religious affairs.

In the piece, published on Sunday, Lauder pointed a finger at “blinkered Israeli policies,”, claiming, “If current trends continue, Israel will face a stark choice: Grant Palestinians full rights and cease being a Jewish state or rescind their rights and cease being a democracy.” In short, Lauder expressed fear over both “the possible demise of the two-state solution,” on the one hand, and what he deems “Israel’s capitulation to religious extremists and the growing disaffection of the Jewish diaspora” on the other.

Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett took the opportunity to confront Lauder face to face at the Foreign Ministry-sponsored Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem on Monday. Addressing Lauder directly from the dais, Bennett began by saying, “Ron, I read your piece in The New York Times – not a great piece.”

“Assimilation in America in not a result of Israeli policies, assimilation is the result of prosperity in America, and it predates the Six Day War, it predates the intifada, and it is an ongoing trend that we have to fight,” Bennett stated.

‘What are you doing, man?’

He also confronted the WJC leader for arguing that Palestinian terror incitement and Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria are somehow two sides of the same coin, saying, “Moral equivalence between settlement building, what I call ‘building in our communities in our homeland,’ and Palestinian incitement. It is not the same thing.”

In an exchange captured on video by Maariv diplomatic correspondent Yanir Cozin, Bennett can be seen challenging Lauder, “What are you doing, man? What are you doing?”

Lauder responds, “I told you, you’re my inspiration,” and Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, shoots back, “I’m your inspiration? You say that and I’m going to lose five seats in the Knesset.”