Bennett's Party Called Out for 'Homophobic' Video

Habayit Hayehudi leader refuses to apologize for clip in which Knesset candidates overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage; says 'it goes against Judaism.'

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Naftali Bennett, December 2014.
Naftali Bennett, December 2014.Credit: Eli Neeman

Several politicians from the left condemned Wednesday's video clip revealing the position of several Habayit Yehudi candidates on same-sex marriages.

The vast majority of the politicians running in Habayit Hayehudi's upcoming primary came out flatly against Israel recognizing same-sex marriages, saying it either contradicted Judaism or traditional and normative values.

Tzipi Livni speaking at a conference on democracy in Rishon Letzion, January 7, 2015.Credit: Moti Milrod

Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett did not speak on the video, which was released by religious Zionist website Kipa.

"Brother Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi vetoed the life partners' bill that I submitted as justice minister," commented MK Tzipi Livni on Thursday. "Habayit Hayehudi has finally come out of the closet, and the truth has been revealed. It's a dark, homophobic and messianic party."

"Somebody turned out the lights at Habayit Hayehudi, and in the darkness that prevails there it looks like Bennett and his pals have simply gotten lost," said Labor MK Eitan Cabel. It's an offensive clip that befits the Middle Ages – not the 21st century, and certainly not a party that makes such an effort to present a front of progress and modernity. Habayit Hayehudi's bluff has been called. It's a far-right party trying to deceive the voters, but now its real face has been unmasked."

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism and a candidate for the Labor Party's Knesset list, echoed Cabel's sentiments.

"Underneath the amusing and mischievous image the party tries to generate hides dark opinions and a one-dimensional Judaism," said Kariv. "The time has come for the public to understand that the attempt to create a young and cool image is aimed at covering up Habayit Hayehudi's extremist political agenda to pull into the party new constituents."

The party leader strikes back

Rather than apologize, Bennett doubled down during an interview with Israel's Channel 10 Thursday evening, asserting that his critics are the true hypocrites.

"We were very pragmatic in the last Knesset. The rule was to look after the individual rights of the LGBT community, like income tax benefits," he said. "There's an attempt here to paint us in a certain light. If Yair [Lapid], [Tzipi] Livni and [Isaac] 'Bougie' Herzog are burning so much to legalize single-sex marriages, why did they vote against it in the outgoing Knesset? I call on them – let's make a condition for entering the next government approving a same-sex marriage bill within a month of its establishment. But, 'Bougie' won't do it because he wants to establish a leftist-Haredi government."

Bennett said he would not support such a bill. "We always tell the truth," he said. "Of course we oppose single-sex marriages. It goes against Judaism. The difference is that I am not a hypocrite. I say my positions. These guys pull a 180. Yair Lapid and 'Bougie' will post again how much they are for it."

Then he proclaimed in English, "Put your money where your mouth is," before reverting to Hebrew and challenging them to make a same-sex marriage law conditional on joining the government.

"I started out the week as responsible for the death of people in a military operation," he continued. "I didn't see people asking 'Bougie' Herzog whey he remained silent during a criminal investigation. I didn't see you asking him why (Yesh Atid MK) Boaz Toporovsky is involved in corruption.

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