“I regret it, it’s inappropriate, it was not right and it was not true,” Habayit Hayehudi Chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett apologized to MK Yossi Yona (Zionist Camp) for a video ad published by his party in the 2015 election campaign.
The ad featured quotes from Prof. Yossi Yonah’s campaign speeches as a candidate for the Knesset, and stated, “It’s not Hamas, it’s Yossi Yona.”
The video imitated a Hamas propaganda video, and the quotes included deliberate spelling mistakes to imply they had been written by Arabs and were part of the Hamas propaganda against the State of Israel.
One line said, “All respect for the Zionist soldiers who refuse to serve in the occupied territories.”
The quotes were posted against a green background identified with Hamas, under the logo of the Hamas-affiliated television channel. It concluded with the shocking punch line, “It’s not Hamas, it’s Yossi Yona.”
Between 1992 and 1993, Yonah headed the education team of the Special Committee for Social Development in the Office of the Prime Minister under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was one of the founders of the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow Coalition, and of the Forum for Social Justice and Peace, which was sponsored by the International Center for Peace. Prof. Yonah is member of the board of the Adva Center, Institute for Research of Israeli Society and Promotion of Equality and Social Justice.
Following the 2015 broadcast, the Zionist Camp movement turned to then Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to demand an investigation, at which point Bennett responded: “I’d be happy to report to the investigation and say ‘I’ve spoken the truth.'”
On Tuesday, however, Bennett apologized during a meeting of the Knesset Finance Committee. Many of the participants exploded in loud responses, which were shushed by MK Miki Rosenthal (Zionist Camp), who called at them: “This is a moving human moment, the minister is speaking from his own heart’s blood.”
Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni praised Bennett’s remarks: “He did something remarkable and should have been allowed to do so without background noise.”
MK Yossi Yona responded: “I appreciate this, I accept your apology and hope that this will be a prelude to restraining the statements in the future.”