Bennett tells American Jews: ‘I’ll be back’ to Israeli politics

“People say stupid things,” but most of it won’t happen, he said, regarding new government’s stated agenda.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Former prime Minister Naftali Bennett told an American Jewish audience Monday that his career in Israeli politics is not yet over.

“In Israel, we can be recycled, one can always come back. Look at Bibi,” he said in answer to a question about a possible comeback, calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his nickname. “So yes, I’ll be back.”

Besides Netanyahu, who had a stint as premier from 1996 to 1999 before leading Israel from 2009-2021 and recently returning to office after an 18-month hiatus in the Opposition, Bennett also mentioned the late Yitzhak Rabin.

“Rabin was prime minister from ’74 to ’77 and came back,” he noted, referring to the Labor leader’s reinstatement in 1992. Rabin was assassinated in November 1995 while still in office.

Bennett was speaking at an event sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York at the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center in Manhattan, and his statement of intent was greeted by warm applause.

He urged his small audience to keep up their support for the Jewish state, even if they disapprove of the current government’s stated policies, such as the intended judicial reform that the majority in Israel supports but is being vociferously protested by the Left.

Read  CONTROVERSIAL JUDICIAL REFORM: 'Don't read the news, read the bill'

“Don’t give up on Israel, even if we’re going through a midlife crisis,” Bennett said. “We will overcome this because the majority of the public wants a Jewish and democratic Israel, wants Judaism, does not want coercion.”

“When your family member goes through a crisis, you don’t give up on him. Quite the contrary, you embrace him, you help him through this period,” he said.

A nominal right-winger, the former premier said he personally supported some of the reforms, but not all.

“People say stupid things, but a lot of that won’t happen. I promise you that no one will touch the LGBT community in Israel,” he said.

“There are many words flying around, but there is a core of responsibility” in the current government, he added, that would repel the most extreme proposals.

Regarding its external ememies, he said that the Jewish state is strong, but he expressed concern over the internal cohesiveness of Israeli society.

“I’m worried because the discourse is so toxic. It’s basically two tribes that don’t listen to each other,” he said.