Israeli Teacher Faces Reprimand for Tossing Apple at Netanyahu at Campaign Rally

Education minister demands the woman, who regularly attends protests against police brutality and racial profiling, be called in for clarifications

Education Minister Rafi Peretz in September 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Education Minister Rafi Peretz has ordered a teacher to be summoned for clarifications for throwing an apple at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a rally on Saturday night, in protest of the government's policies on Israelis of Ethiopian descent.

In a televised interview on Channel 12 after the incident, the teacher, Zehava Brinish Beck, also compared Netanyahu to Hitler.

“We will not accept any violent behavior in the education system, not by students and certainly not by teachers who are supposed to set an example,” Peretz said in a statement. “The teacher has crossed a red line, verbally and physically. There is a boundary and this is exactly where it passes.”

A ministry statement said that the teacher had behaved “completely against the code of conduct expected from an educator and against practices applying to public servants. Throwing an apple at the prime minster and the statements comparing him to Hitler are very serious, wrong and to be condemned. The ministry leads a policy in the struggle against violence and it will not compromise, certainly not with regard to a teacher, an educator, who acts as a model in changing unacceptable conduct in society.”

Netanyahu in Jerusalem, February 2020
Emil Salman

Toward the end of Netanyahu’s speech Brinish Beck approached the stage and threw the apple at him. It missed Netanyahu but struck a woman on the stage, who subsequently filed a police complaint. Brinish Back was detained by the police and released a few hours later.

Brinish Beck told Channel 12: “People who are supposed to lead us and act as examples are inciting at a level that I’ll tell you very frankly, this rally reminded me of Hitler.”

When the interviewer, Oded Ben-Ami, responded that she had crossed a line and invited her to apologize, she said: “I apologize but these are my feelings and that’s what I felt.” Since the interview the woman, who is of Ethiopian origin, has been the object of racist slurs on social media.

Brinish Beck regularly attends protests by Ethiopian-Israelis against Netanyahu's policies and police brutality. “The events of Solomon Teka and the foot-dragging of the establishment and their disregard of the protest weighed heavily on her,” one of Brinish Beck’s friends told Haaretz, referring to an Ethiopian Israeli of 18 who was killed by ricochet from a bullet fired by an off-duty policeman, who has been charged with negligent homicide. “There is no doubt the statements were not justified but they can be forgiven,” the teacher's friend added.

In November Peretz announced that he had instructed the ministry to summon a kindergarten teacher’s assistant, Osnat Hagi, who filmed herself removing a picture of Netanyahu from the wall of the kindergarten where she works.