Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked came under attack on Monday from two lecturers at Hebrew University, who called her a “neo-Nazi” and a partner in genocide.
“Today the fine line between freedom of expression and freedom of incitement was blatantly crossed and polluted the public discourse. I’m sure that law enforcement authorities will handle the case in the proper manner,” Shaked said at a press conference.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is also Shaked’s party leader, was less restrained in his response: “This is the gravest incitement done against a justice minister in the state of Israel’s history. Academia cannot turn into a hotbed for incitement against the minister responsible for the legal system in the country. I demand this matter be dealt with immediately, to make it clear that a behavior like this must not be allowed to repeat – from any side of the political map,” Bennett said.
Bennett reportedly called Hebrew University president Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson to demand an explanation.
However, a statement released by Hebrew U. to The Jerusalem Post on Monday evening indicated that it would stand aside from the controversy.
“The university is not responsible for the statements made by its lecturers and it is not its job to discipline them so long as it does not involve the exploitation of the academic platform for dissemination.”
“As long as someone believes there is incitement in this or that statement or a violation of state law they should turn to law enforcement agencies,” the university stated.
In an online posting, Professor Amiram Goldblum accused Shaked, who has spearheaded a bill to require Israeli NGOs to report on foreign funding, of unethical campaign finances:
“Shaked’s election campaign was based among others on money collected in exchange for arms sold to killers in Sierra Leone and in South America by Shaked’s financial supporter, who is now in jail in Belgium after being detained by Interpol for 8 months in Montenegro since March 2015,” Goldblum wrote. He named Serge Muller as the arms merchant.
Ayelet Shaked’s office said in response: “Mr. Muller’s donation was received at the time through a third party. The details of the donor were verified and given to the state comptroller in accordance with the law. At the time the donation was received, any criminal matter with which the donor was involved was unknown.”
His colleague, Dr. Ofer Cassif, added the “neo-Nazi” comment, accusing her of being “a partner responsible for the fascism of Israel but also an indirect partner to African genocide and crimes against humanity.