When is a negotiator treif?


Tal Schneider, formerly the Washington correspondent for Maariv, now blogs politics at Haaretz, in Hebrew.

Someone sent her a photo this week from the Knesset’s fleishig cafeteria (yes, I love that detail) showing a meeting between Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, Naftali Bennett, who heads the Jewish Home Party, and Bennet’s adviser, Natan Natanzon.

Left to right: Natan Natanzon, Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett

The men evidently are meeting to negotiate an agreement that would “relieve the national burden,” i.e., extend conscription to the ultra-Orthodox haredi community — a key Lapid campaign pledge.

The question Schneider raises is this: In the 1980s, Natanzon served time for planting a bomb that targeted then-Nablus Mayor Bassam Shakaa. Shakaa had to have his legs amputated because of the attack. But after the January elections, Lapid sensed the “public rumbling,” as Schneider puts it, and refused to join coalition talks if an aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Natan Eshel, participated. Eshel acknowledged indecent sexual conduct in a plea bargain last year. But Lapid apparently has no qualms talking to a man who blew off someone’s legs.

So here are Schneider’s questions for Lapid:

Does time mute a man’s crime? Cleanse his acts? Is it allright for Minister Bennett to use his political talents in negotiations? How is it that Minister Lapid sits so comfortably at a atable with a convicted criminal?



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