Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbol.
(photo credit: Atara Beck)
WASHINGTON – The mayor of Beit Shemesh is facing blowback from American Jewish
groups after calling gays a health problem that needs to be “taken care
“There are no gays in my city, thank God,” Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe
Abutbul told Channel 10 News earlier this week, referring to gays as unholy and
“Expressions of intolerance have no place in Israeli public
discourse, especially coming from elected officials,” Abraham Foxman, national
director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement on Tuesday, calling
on Abutbul to apologize. “We strongly condemn the insensitive and hurtful
comments made by Beit Shemesh’s mayor about his city’s LGBT
In a published letter to Abutbul on Monday, leaders of the
Jewish Federation of Greater Washington asked the mayor to retract his comments,
calling them hurtful, offensive and false.
“We are outraged by your
comments recently on Channel 10, in which you said there are no homosexuals in
your ‘holy and pure’ city,” read the letter.
government has a sister-city relationship with Beit Shemesh.
pro-Israel groups in the United States are uniformly supportive of equal rights
initiatives for gays, often highlighting shared democratic values between the
two nations. B’nai B’rith International, currently fighting for a law on Capitol
Hill that will prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians in the
workplace, characterized itself as “a staunch supporter of equality and
tolerance” this week.
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, whose ministry is
responsible for local government, expressed disgust at Abutbul’s
“What the mayor of Beit Shemesh said against gays is dark and
outrageous,” Sa’ar wrote on Facebook. “I condemn his words and hope all local
authorities will remember this verse from Pirkei Avot [Ethics of Our Fathers
1:11]: Be cautious in your words, for you may be exiled and banished to a place
of heresy, and the disciples who follow you there may drink and die, and the
Name of Heaven will be desecrated.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this