A Tel Aviv University elections event headlined by Habayit Hayehudi head Naftali Bennett was disrupted on Sunday as dozens of Arab high school students walked out of a speech held by the minister, protesting what they called his anti-Arab statements.
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Bennett spoke before a crowd of around one thousand students at the event, which was held as part of a series of pre-election talks given by party heads.
The ruckus began when Bennett began to speak of car theft in the Negev and in East Jerusalem (Heavily Arab Bedouin and Arab areas, respectively). "That is the way of the left," responded Bennett, after several Arab students stood up and left. "To run away and not to listen." At that point, several of Bennett's supporters commenced shouting slogans in support of him, and several of his opponents began to make their way toward the stage.
Tom Cohen, a Meretz activist who was present at the event, described the proceedings. "The Arab kids walked out in the middle of Bennett's speech, they said Bennett was saying all the Arabs are thieves. Then they went back in and started yelling 'Bennett go home' together with a few Meretz activists. Near us there were a few religious students whom Bennett was riling up, they were yelling things in support of him and against us. Myself and another Meretz activist started shouting at Bennett that he is a racist and a homophobe, that he is ripping the nation apart. He answered us that here in Tel Aviv University people listen to us, but that he has the support of the nation."
Cohen said that after being pulled out of the auditorium by event organizers, Shin Bet personnel asked him for his personal details, stating that he was suspected of intending to attack a minister.
After the event ended, groups of Arab and left-wing students engaged in shouting matches with groups of right-wing students.
The event was organized by the education ministry together with an NGO devoted to promoting civil values and public dialogue. Past guests have included Yair Lapid, Moshe Kahlon, Zahava Gal-On, Arie Deri and Isaac Herzog.