‘Do the right thing, marry a wife,’ former MK tells openly gay Knesset speaker

Former Shas lawmaker complimentary of first gay Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana but urges him to embrace a traditional lifestyle and marry a woman.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A former MK from the Sephardic ultra-Orthodox Shas party offered his opinion on the appointment of Likud MK Amir Ohana, who is an openly gay man, to the position of Knesset speaker during a Hebrew-language radio interview.

But unlike his former party colleagues and rabbis affiliated with Shas who have urged Ohana to step down and bemoaned his appointment as a national embarrassment, Nissim Ze’ev encouraged the MK to embrace a traditional lifestyle.

“Instead of resigning, he should do the right thing and marry a wife,” Ze’ev said during a Monday morning interview on Radio103 FM.

“I would suggest that the Speaker of the Knesset not resign from being speaker, that [instead] he should go and establish a kosher home,” Ze’ev continued. “He should say, ‘From this moment on, I am going to live a married life according to the religion of Moses and Israel.’”

Ohana is “married” to a man and has two children, a son and daughter whom he fathered via surrogacy.

Ze’ev was complimentary of Ohana, who had a storied military career, worked for the Shin Bet intelligence agency and served as Justice Minister and Public Security Minister in past governments.

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“I know Ohana, he is a genius, brilliant, intelligent person,” he said, before adding that his appointment as Knesset Speaker was too up-front for the religious parties in the coalition.

“There is no hatred here, but there is distance from the path of the Torah. We need to express a protest,” Ze’ev said.

“I think that as part of the coalition agreements, both the ultra-Orthodox and Religious Zionism parties should have told the Prime Minister, ‘With all due respect, Ohana can serve in any position, but not in the position of Speaker of the Knesset.’”

In recent days, prominent rabbis, including former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar and Rabbi Meni Mazuz, who is considered a close confidant of Shas chairman Aryeh Deri, have publicly expressed their disapproval of Ohana serving in the role due to his sexual orientation.