Israel’s far-right finance minister and deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament Bezalel Smotrich outed himself as a fascist homophobe but said he won’t stone gay people to death or eat shrimp.
Israel's far-right finance minister: 'I'm a fascist homophobe but... I won't stone gays' https://t.co/XZxikjeZIX
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) January 16, 2023
The country’s public broadcaster, Kan, published a conversation between Smotrich and a businessman on January 16th, where the far-right politician told the businessman that his voters would still support him, even if he works against the LGBT community.
“A Sephardi or a traditional Jew, do you think he (the businessman) cares about gays? He couldn’t care less. He says, ‘do you think I care that you [Smotrich] are against them?’” Smotrich was heard saying in the recording of the conversation.
Smotrich was also heard declaring, “I’m a fascist homophobe, but I’m a man of my word,” and added, "I won’t stone gays, and you won’t feed me shrimp,” in the recording.
In the conversation, the 42-year-old chairman of the far-right Religious Zionism party was also recorded saying voters supported him because he was “the only one who didn’t cooperate with the United Arab List and is safeguarding the Land of Israel for [their] grandchildren.”
His statements regarding shrimp (which are not kosher in Jewish tradition) and especially homophobia were shared widely on social media, with some saying that Smotrich’s beliefs contradict Israel’s reputation as the most LGBTQ-friendly country in the Middle Eastern and North African region.
The comments also provoked controversy in Israel’s government, mainly dominated by a coalition of nationalist, religious, and far-right political parties. Yair Lapid, Israel’s former prime minister and current leader of the opposition, tweeted, “This reminds us how weak Netanyahu is and how dangerous it is that he’s kept captive by extremists.”
“It’s not a question of left or right, and it’s not a question of the Likud or Yesh Atid [parties]. The major question is whether you love your fellow man or hate him.” Lapid added.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party made a spectacular comeback during the last parliamentary elections when the right-wing national camp gained a majority in the Israeli’s parliament with significant losses from left-wing and Arab parties.
Far-right parties also gained seats after the election. Netanyahu’s current government is seen as the most right-wing in Israel’s history. Recent protests have sparked in the country, challenging the government and some policies it enacted, such as judicial reform and banning the Palestinian flag in public spaces.