In the interview that he probably wishes now he did not give, Benny Gantz furiously railed against interviewers who asked him about the association of his wife, Revital, with the far-left Machsom Watch group. Responding angrily, Gantz said that it was all a lie. “I don’t understand how intelligent people with a bit of IQ can ask even a quarter of a question on this nonsense,” Gantz said in the Yediot Acharonot interview. “Are you two messed up?” he asked his interviewers. “I cannot express this in gentle words.”
The interviewers were popular Israeli entertainer Shlomo Artzi, and Yediot Achronot columnist Chanoch Daum, known for his pro-settlement views. The interview published Friday was the full version of the comments Gantz made, some of which were previewed earlier in the week – in which Gantz expressed appreciation for the 2005 disengagement, which saw some 10,000 Jews thrown out of their homes in Gush Katif and northern Shomron. The disengagement, he said, could be a model for Yehudah and Shomron.
The disengagement “was perfectly legal and adopted by the government, and carried out by the IDF. For the residents of the affected areas it was painful, but it turned out for the good. We must learn the lessons and actualize them elsewhere.” Israel needed to arrive at a situation “where we are not ruling over other people.”
Gantz sustained sharp criticism for the comments. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a social media post, “We told you – Gantz will form a leftist government, relying on Ahmed Tibi and his partners to push his plans through.”
The New Right said in response that it was “grateful to Gantz for taking off his mask. Gantz is trying to out-left Avi Gabbay and Labor. He wants to evict Jews from their homes in Yehudah and Shomron on a unilateral disengagement. Gantz cannot be allowed to be Israel’s Defense Minister,” a post he is expected to be offered if Netanyahu forms the government and Gantz’s Resilience Party gets the second largest number of representatives in the Knesset. “As we have been saying to voters, the choice is between the New Right and the weak left.”
For years, rumors have been flying that Gantz’s wife, Revital, was active in Machsom Watch, a far-left group that sends activists to IDF checkpoints to harass soldiers. Several reports said that photos exist of Revital Gantz participating in such events, but in the interview, Gantz said that the rumors were lies. “They take bits of nothing and build into a major story. It’s intolerable that I would deny this 1,000 times and still be asked this question. Now what? Revital will go to the homes of families who have lost loved ones in IDF service, and this is what they have to hear? These lies? Bad enough that this follows her around, but now we have a minister who is spreading this lie.”
Gantz was referring to Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis, who in a radio interview earlier this week mentioned the rumor. Gantz told the interviewers that he was considering suing Akunis for defamation of character. “I am not prepared to accept this anymore, and if it goes on, I will lose my composure. I would not recommend this happening – my enemies know what I am talking about, and my political rivals will as well. For the past ten years Revital has worked with parents of disabled children, teaching them to be better parents. She does this around the country. Do you not think I know what is going on in my own house?”