The Board of Deputies, the umbrella organization that oversees British Jewry, launched an unprecedented attack against MK Bezalel Smotrich on Wednesday, calling him a “disgrace” and asking him to never visit the United Kingdom again.
Smotrich, leader of the far-right National Religious Party, is currently in London as part of a tour through Europe to garner support against some of the government’s religious reforms.
“Get back on the plane Bezalel and be remembered as a disgrace forever," the Board of Deputies said in a tweet.
The translation function doesn't quite convey the meaning of the last phrase. It's more like: "Get back on the plane Bezalel and be remembered as a disgrace forever."— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) February 9, 2022
In a second tweet, in Hebrew, the board said that it rejected Smotrich’s “disgusting ideology that promotes hatred.”
In response, Smotrich tweeted: "British Jews: I love you. All of you."
The Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, an umbrella organization for the Zionist movement in the UK, joined the Board of Deputies in condemning Smotrich, saying his "far-right politics of hatred and division... have no place in our country nor in our community," including targeting the "LGBTQ+ community, Reform Jews or Arab Israelis."
Earlier in the day, Smotrich said that he was flying to Europe out of concern for the assimilation of Jews that would be made worse by the conversion reform being advanced in the Knesset by the current Israeli government.
“Conversion is not just an Israeli domestic issue but is of concern to Jews from around the world,” he said. “Therefore any changes need to be done in conversation with Diaspora Jews.”
"Smotrich has nothing to look for in Britain, the community there has already made its voice heard," wrote Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai in response to the incident. "Racism has no place anywhere. Come home.
Smotrich is known for his extremist views. Last April, he said that Muslims who do not recognize that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people will not continue to reside in the land. He made the comment just hours before Israel bowed its head to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
"I heard Smotrich complain that "progressives" have taken over the Jewish community in the United Kingdom," tweeted Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz.
"No Bezalel, it is your party's racism and Kahanism that are disgusting the Jewish community in the UK, which have always pushed for tolerance, equality and justice."
A few years earlier, he said that his wife refused to give birth alongside an Arab mother due to “mental gaps” between Arabs and Jews.