Smotrich was slammed by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who warned of the “dangerous combination of ignorance, populism, frustration and hatred,” noting that “Smotrich gave us… another excellent reminder.”
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich said on Thursday afternoon that he believed the fourth wave of coronavirus infections in Israel was sparked by the massive gay Pride Parade held in Tel Aviv in late June, and that he believed the government was planning to lock down citizens during the Jewish holidays in September.
During a speech in the Knesset plenum, he said “there was a huge infection party that I believe started this whole outbreak, this wave. And nobody has the guts to [name] it because it’s not politically correct. The gay Pride Parade, where they went crazy in Tel Aviv, that was the starter for this whole thing.”
The Tel Aviv gay Pride Parade is the largest of its kind held in the Middle East, and Hebrew language media reported that some 100,000 revellers took to the streets during the event. Pictures of the parade show tens of thousands of revellers tightly packed together, with almost no masks in sight.
Smotrich argued that the government was intentionally aiming for a closure over the Jewish holidays, because they didn’t want to disrupt Israelis from taking leisure trips during the summer months and feared backlash if they had imposed a closure during the Muslim holiday period.
“They don’t want to do a lockdown during July and August because people are traveling and they don’t want to ruin their vacations. They didn’t want to touch [the Muslim holiday] Eid al-Adha, and tens of thousands flew to the bright red country of Turkey, getting infected and infecting others [upon their return to Israel.]
“So when will we do the lockdown? During the Jewish holidays, it’s not a big deal. So we won’t pray in the synagogue, so we won’t dance with the Torah during Simchat Torah, so we’ll fast for the whole day on Yom Kippur and pray under the blazing sun, and we won’t celebrate with our families on the holidays.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who is gay, slammed Smotrich on Twitter, writing that “”there is no connection between the Delta outbreak and the Pride marches.”
“In case you forgot what the dangerous combination of ignorance, populism, frustration and hatred, Smotrich gave us… another excellent reminder,” he added.
“The man who made a career of homophobia never misses a shot at inciting and spreading hatred.”
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also chimed in, calling Smotrich a homophobe.
“Like any demagogue that becomes less and less relevant, Smutrich needs to find an enemy. Someone to blame. Someone to hate…so he chose to blame the LGBT community for the fourth wave of the corona. This is what incitement looks like. This is what racism looks like.”
Smotrich dismissed the criticism that his remarks were hateful.
“We are allowed to speak about the LGBT community and the Pride Parade, and to note that this event, together with many other events, brought us to where we are now,” he told Kan Reshet Bet.