(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Everyone has the right to his faith, Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog said in speaking out against anti-religious comments made by artist Yair Gerbuz and playwright Joshua Sobol this week.
Herzog, whose grandfather was chief rabbi of Israel, expressed disgust with their comments, telling Israel Radio: “I am a traditional person who goes to synagogue and believes with full faith.
“I think that every citizen should live according to his faith,” he continued.
Gerbuz gave a speech at the large anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, describing right-wing voters as “shouters of ‘Death to Arabs,’ thieves and bribe-takers..., amulet-kissers, idol worshipers and bowers... at the graves of saints” who took over the country. His comments sparked criticism that what he said was “racist” against Sephardim, but Gerbuz refused to apologize in several media interviews.
On Monday, Sobol sought to defend Garbuz from the nearly universal panning he received after his speech, saying that “whoever kisses mezuzas, that’s his problem... There are stupid people in all different population groups.”
Sobol also compared Bayit Yehudi’s “No apologies” slogan to Nazi Germany’s policy of “No guilt” in relation to World War I.
Sobol is an honorary No. 107 on Meretz’s Knesset candidates list and appeared in one of the party’s ads, which the party said it was not planning on airing again, without any connection to what he said. Gerboz also supports Meretz.
Following Sobol’s comments, Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett posted a graphic of a mezuza on Facebook with the words: “If you don’t think kissing a mezuza is stupid, you have a home.
“My brothers on the Left, you have lost your direction,” Bennett wrote. “Joshua Sobol and Yair Gerbuz, I am a proud, stupid mezuza-kisser... Next week, we will win.”
Meretz did not respond to their comments by press time, but party chairwoman Zehava Gal-On already expressed her feelings on religion last month, when she wrote on Facebook, “I personally do not believe [in God], and I very much respect anyone who does believe.
“No one in Israel needs to be embarrassed by his faith. It doesn’t matter if he is haredi, religious-Zionist, traditional, Muslim, Christian, Druse, and even, God forbid, a non-believer,” she added.
Gal-On wrote her comments about needing to accept everyone’s faith in a post criticizing Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for responding to a survey that they believe in God, because she thought they were lying.