Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud faction meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came out strongly Thursday against comments by MK Yigal Guetta and Religious Services Minister David Azoulay, both of Shas, accusing the Reform Movement of trying to destroy the Jewish people.
“Wholesale and ad hominem attacks on any part of the Jewish people are inappropriate and unacceptable,” Netanyahu said, adding that “Israel is the home of all Jews.
“Our strength is our unity,” he stated.
On Wednesday, in a motion to the Knesset’s agenda on the eve of Purim, Guetta compared Reform Jewry to Haman, the villain of the Scroll of Esther.
“Haman thought he could destroy, slay and exterminate the Jews for only one reason, because Jews were spread and divided among the nations.
That division is a tragedy.
One thousand, six hundred years later, we’re facing a new attempt to divide us, and unfortunately, it’s coming from the inside, from people in a costume of liberalism,” Guetta added, referring to the Reform Movement. “They are going to bring a spiritual and material disaster. They eat away at everything good in Israel and the Jewish people.”
Azoulay said Reform Jews “invest massive funds and all the influence they have in order to sabotage God’s Torah.
“Look at what is happening in America – so much assimilation.
God forbid such a thing should reach us,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on Guetta’s claim that the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, was blackmailing the government by threatening to stop supporting Israel if his movement is not recognized.
Jacobs condemned the latest in what has been a series of vitriolic statements by haredi leaders against the non-Orthodox streams, saying that it was “shameful and pathetic that yet another haredi leader has chosen to speak harsh, hateful words toward the largest movement in Jewish life.”
“Shas MK Yigal Guetta’s comparison of Reform Jewry to Haman betrays his ignorance of our vibrant movement and of the redemptive message of the megila,” he said. “If Esther lived today she would no doubt be active in a Reform congregation, one that understood that Jewish life must never stop evolving.
“Esther is married to a non-Jewish man, is more flexible with her ritual observance, but most importantly, loves her people and saves them through her courageous leadership. This Purim I hope that Jews stop speaking hateful words toward those who practice Judaism differently and instead find inspiring ways to protect and strengthen the Jewish people throughout the world.”
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.