Rabbi who claimed Bennett is not Jewish apologizes after losing defamation lawsuit

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett touts first legal victory in series of defamation lawsuits, forcing Rabbi Ronen Shaulov to retract claims Bennett and his parents are not Jewish.

By World Israel News Staff

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett notched his first legal victory Wednesday in a series of lawsuits filed for defamation last year.

Last December, Bennett filed a one-million shekel ($290,000) lawsuit against Rabbi Ronen Shaulov, after Rabbi Shaulov claimed during a live-stream online lecture that the former premier and his parents are not Jewish according to Halacha, or traditional Jewish law.

During the lecture, Rabbi Shaulov cited rumors claiming that both of Bennett’s parents, Jim and Myrna Bennett – both American-Jewish immigrants to Israel – had not been born Jewish and in fact had converted through the Reform Movement.

“Bennett is not Jewish, look it up on Google,” Rabbi Shaulov said, before accusing Bennett of “selling out the country to non-Jews.”

“He was their dog.”

Reform conversions are not recognized by Orthodox Judaism.

The Magistrate’s Court ruled in favor of Bennett Wednesday, though the presiding judge has yet to determine to what extent Rabbi Shaulov must compensate the former prime minister. Bennett has vowed to donate whatever he is awarded in the lawsuits to charity.

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Following the ruling, Rabbi Shaulov issued a statement retracting his previous claims against Bennett, Israel National News reported

“During the year 2022, I spoke out against the former Prime Minister, Mr. Naftali Bennett, and against his mother, Mrs. Myrna Bennett, based on information which I received which later turned out to be incorrect – that the Jewishness of Mr. Bennett’s late father, Mr. Jim Bennett, and that of his mother, Mrs. Myrna Bennett, was in doubt.”

“After an investigation, I would like to emphasize that these things are false. These things said by me reached a wide circulation. I regret saying these things and apologize from the bottom of my heart to the Bennett family for the heartache caused to them by this publication.”

Bennett and his legal team touted the win, calling a victory against the “spreading of lies.”

“It is important that the court sends a clear message of its unwillingness to put up with the spreading of lies, and specifically – that the claims that Mr. Bennett is not Jewish are a complete lie,” Bennett’s attorneys, Oded Gazit and Eliram Bekel, said in a statement Wednesday. “Mr. Bennett has already stated in the past that he will donate the compensation he receives.”

Bennett has also filed a lawsuit against Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, an Israeli-born lecturer and popular online personality who lives in Monsey, New York.

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During his sermons, Rabbi Mizrachi also claimed Bennett is not Jewish and that he “doesn’t have a Jewish soul,” and that he should be “impaled with a spear.”