A routine Knesset committee meeting Monday descended into verbal abuse and name-calling, as right-wing members threatened to strip funding from a youth village over its willingness to host a joint summer camp for Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones to the conflict.
The Knesset’s Education, Culture and Sports Committee meeting featured MK Ofer Cassif from the predominantly Arab Hadash-Ta’al party telling MK Hanoch Milwidsky from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party: “Go rape another one,” in reference to a sexual assault allegation against Milwidsky. Milwidsky in response called Cassif a “worthless terror supporter.”
The committee was holding a discussion on the Ben Shemen Youth Village, which rents its premises every summer to a different organization to help meet a budget shortfall. This year, the Parents Circle-Families Forum (PCFF) Israeli-Palestinian group is slated to hold a summer camp at the village.
Right-wing politicians see the group as equating the suffering of Israeli terror victims with that of Palestinians killed while committing attacks or rioting against Israeli forces.
The youth village’s director, Ilana Tischler, said during the discussion that she herself came from a bereaved family, adding that which group rents the place wasn’t the village’s decision to make. She also noted that the PCFF was a legal organization and that rejecting it would have been discriminatory.
Milwidsky slammed Ben Shemen, saying that hosting the PCFF was “unforgivable.”
“We may not have the legal power to prevent you from doing this and to force you to cancel the contract you signed with this contemptible body, but listen carefully — this government will be here for some time. And bodies that act like this — we will make sure to check the public money flowing to them very, very carefully,” Milwidsky said.
In response, Cassif — the only Jewish Hadash-Ta’al lawmaker — attacked Milwidsky personally over an allegation made in September 2022 by a woman who said she was sexually assaulted by Milwidsky at her home in 2014. The lawmaker has denied her allegations.
As the atmosphere heated up, Cassif told Milwidsky: “Go rape another one,” with the Likud MK calling Cassif a “worthless terror supporter” in response.
During the same discussion, MK Almog Cohen from the far-right Otzma Yehudit party threatened to physically disrupt the Israeli-Palestinian summer camp: “I will come on the first day of the summer camp and break it up. We will come, 10 MKs, and wish luck to our forces in killing as many terrorists as possible and as few innocents as possible.”
Monday’s verbal clash came after two Likud ministers exchanged barbs Sunday during the weekly cabinet meeting, and after officials from the Shas and Otzma Yehudit coalition parties traded unusually harsh accusations.