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An Evening with Naftali Bennett

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By 2021, Israel had sunk to an alarming low: political gridlock that had led to four elections in two years, near-record unemployment, unprecedented deficit and three years without a budget. Add in rioting in Arab and mixed towns, Hamas rockets and no glimmer of hope for peace.

Yet by that summer, Naftali Bennett had formed the most diverse government in Israel’s history, a coalition of religious and secular, left, right and, for the first time, an Arab party. Within a year, despite the devastation of COVID, unemployment had fallen, the deficit had plummeted, a budget had been passed and residents of the Negev and Gaza borders were enjoying a respite of quiet.

The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Cultural Center is proud to host Israel’s 13th prime minister to discuss the application of his 70/70 rule, which reflected the fact that around 70% of Israelis agree on 70% of the issues; his attempts to mediate with Presidents Zelenskyy and Putin; the fracture of his coalition and his fear that Israel’s internal divisions suggest chilling parallels to the falls of the First and Second Temples.

Before becoming Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Prime Minister Bennett was a successful hi-tech entrepreneur. In 2012, he became leader of the Jewish Home party and went on to serve as the head of the ministries of Economy, Religious Services, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, Education and Defense.

Raised in Haifa to American-born parents, he was a member of Sayeret Matkal and a Company Commander in the Maglan Special Forces Unit, where he commanded a series of operations in Lebanon behind enemy lines.

Bennett will be in conversation with Eric Goldstein, CEO of UJA Federation of New York.