Israel’s newly sworn-in prime minister Naftali Bennett gave his opening address in the Knesset on Sunday to a plenum of hecklers from the opposition interrupting his speech every step of the way.
Israel’s 36th government passed a vote of confidence at a special Knesset session with Yamina Party head Naftali Bennett sworn in as Israel’s 13th prime minister.
Although he accused Israel’s leadership under Netanyahu of being a failure, the overall theme of his speech was a call for unity.
To emphasize his point, Bennett invoked the destruction of both the first and second Temples saying: “there have been times in Jewish history when the disagreements are out of control – when the disagreement is no longer for heaven’s sake, when it threatens us and all that we have built.”
Referring to both the first and second Temples, Bennett added: “twice in our history, we lost our national home precisely because the leaders of that generation did not agree.”
According to popular Jewish legend, the Second Temple was destroyed by God due to ‘baseless hatred’ whereby the Jewish people conspired against one another out of spite. Bennett’s speech seemed to use that idea as a cautionary tale against further divisions. At one point he even said that it’s the type of thing that can bring down the country.
“Twice in our history – the nation of Israel lost the first Temple and the Second Temple precisely because the leaders of that generation couldn’t agree to sit together and compromise” Bennett added.
He continued saying: “everyone is right. But because of all that righteous indignation, they burned the Temple down.”
At that point, Religious Zionist party members Itamar Ben-Gvir and Betzalel Smotrich held up signs of victims of terror who were killed under the watch of other past ‘unity governments’ in protest. After the two were escorted from the plenum, Bennett reacted to the disruption saying: “just imagine that 2,000 years ago, one would stand, people would stand. And they would say right before the speech – ‘no I will not hold signs. We will not burn our weeds because we weren’t able to sit with each other.’