After facing racism accusations for his aspirations to fight crime from all segments of society, Minister Bennett receives support from an unexpected source.
Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett came under heavy political fire during the past few days and was accused of racism after stating at a Tel Aviv University event on Sunday that certain areas in Israel suffer from Arab crime.
Organized by the Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel, the event was geared to Israeli high school students who will be old enough to vote for the first time in the Israeli elections on March 17.
“Anyone who tried to hike in the Negev in recent years knows that he cannot leave a car next to Hamachtesh Hakatan [a popular hiking spot in southern Israel] or next to one of the streams, because it is certain that people will break into the car and steal it,” Bennett asserted.
Referring to Jewish no-go zones in Israel, he said: “In every Arab village and city, you can’t go in there, and that harms Arabs before anyone else, because the state of Israel has decided that the rule of law applies to Tel Aviv, Haifa and Ra’anana, but not those places.”
Many Arab and left-wing students left the rally in protest.
“I am not saying that all the Arabs are thieves,” he said in an interview later that evening. “There was never a minister of economy who did more than I did to connect Arab men and women to employment. I am proud of it. There is not a drop of racism in me.”
“In Israel 2015, you can’t even talk about the problem without the media and the left huffing and puffing and turning you into a fascist racist,” Bennett lamented.
Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ganaim, head of the High Monitoring Committee of Arabs in Israel, joined Bennett in demanding that police take action against crime in the Arab sector.
“The current situation is unbearable,” Ganaim said, according to Israeli news site NRG. “Seventeen people from the Arab sector have been killed since the beginning of the year from illegal weapons. We are witness to thefts, torching of vehicles and widespread crime in the Arab cities…. I am not talking about a feeling that the authorities have given up on enforcement in the Arab cities. I regret to say that I am talking about facts.”
For example, 70 people are murdered with illegal weapons annually in the Arab sector, Ganaim said.
The minister also published an open letter in English and in Arabic to the Arab citizens of Israel on his Facebook page, saying that “in recent years there has been a significant increase in crime cases and violence across the board throughout Arab society in Israel.”
Citing violence and an extremely high homicide rate, Bennett added that “there is no proper rule of law and order, and the personal sense of security has decreased among Israeli Arab citizens.”
‘Finally Someone is Telling the Truth’
Bennett vowed, together with his political party, to “fully implement the rule of law in all Arab communities and bring peace and tranquility among you. We intend to return to you and to all Israeli citizens the personal security which you all deserve.”
“Just as I have increased the percentage of employment among women in the Arab sector, I pledge to work equally as hard to ensure equal rights while preserving Israeli sovereignty and your personal security,” he stated.
On Facebook, Bennett posted: “I have received dozens of messages all day from Israeli Arab citizens with one clear message: Finally someone is telling the truth. Our lives are a living hell! Take the guns out of our villages and put an end to crime in our cities!”