Otzma Yehudit candidate claims Michaeli 'bought child on Amazon'

The Otzma Yehudit candidate was seemingly attacking the transportation minister for having a child through surrogacy.

Merav Michaeli, leader of the Labor Party/ (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Merav Michaeli, leader of the Labor Party/
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Otzma Yehudit candidate and former chairman of the Association of Community Rabbis in Israel Amihai Eliyahu attacked Transportation Minister Meirav Michaeli, who had a child through a surrogate mother, for "buying a child on Amazon" in a tweet on Thursday.

Eliyahu was seemingly making reference to the fact that Michaeli and her partner, comedian Lior Schleien, had a son through a surrogate mother in the United States last year.

"She, who bought a child on Amazon, will not educate us about tolerance and will not impose her values on us. The people of Israel will continue to honor the Sabbath!" wrote Eliyahu in response to Michaeli's decision to dedicate a public transport line in Haifa on Shabbat.

The younger Eliyahu is number nine on the Religious Zionist list for the upcoming Knesset elections.

The right-wing bloc has expressed outrage in recent weeks against decisions by Michaeli to support and advance the availability of public transport on Shabbat.

Eliyahu is the son of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu who was the High Court of Justice ruled needed to face a disciplinary trial due to racist and anti-LGBTQ+ comments he has made in recent years which are prohibited for public officials. 

He was indicted in 2006 for racial incitement, although the indictment was retracted when he apologized and pledged not to repeat such statements. A three-member panel of High Court justices determined in their ruling in 2020 that the Chief Rabbinate’s decision not to put Eliyahu on disciplinary trial was flawed and “extremely unreasonable,” in light of the public comments the rabbi has made. 

The judges pointed to comments by Eliyahu amounting to incitement against particular population sectors, political activism, and fierce criticism against government authorities, as activities and speech not protected under freedom of expression laws for public officials.

“Anyone who raises a hand to a Jew needs to be killed… We need to have a law so that it is clear to everyone including murderers, that a terrorist who comes to kill Jews – that is their end. It is an obligation and religious commandment on soldiers, police officers and citizens to finish them. Not to disable them, not to restrain them, but to remove them from the world,” wrote Eliyahu on Facebook. In other comments, Eliyahu said Arabs are “the most exploitative nation,” and that “this people hates peace,” in the context of the rights of Arabs to pray on the Temple Mount. 

He also said that “The Arabs are the same Arabs and the sea is the same sea. They have the same hatred for Jews wherever they see Jews they harm them,” following a recent antisemitic attack in Germany.

 Otzma Yehudit candidate Amihai Eliyahu (left) with party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) Otzma Yehudit candidate Amihai Eliyahu (left) with party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The tweet sparked outrage on social media, with many attacking the Otzma Yehudit candidate for the harsh attack on both Michaeli and the general use of surrogacy.

Former MK Yehudah Glick recommended that Eliyahu delete the tweet, writing that it was "inappropriate."

Israeli public split on surrogacy

“I met many women who were surrogates and said they did it from a place of strength.”

Transportation Minister Meirav Michaeli

The use of surrogacy has been heavily debated by the Israeli public and politicians in recent years, with activists from both the right and the left expressing both concerns and support for the practice.

While surrogacy does provide parents who otherwise couldn't have children with a way to have a child outside of adoption, activists from all sides of the political spectrum have expressed concerns that those in weaker socioeconomic positions could be serving as surrogate mothers due to economic desperation, comparing the practice to human trafficking and prostitution.

Michaeli herself has expressed concerns with the use of surrogacy in the past, including calling the practice "human trafficking."

In an interview with N12 shortly after the announcement of the birth of her son, she stated that "It's no secret that I have difficulty with the format, but ethical, non-exploitative surrogacy has developed. I decided to go with my beloved for the thing he wanted so much."

"I met many women who were surrogates and said they did it from a place of strength. In addition, the possibility of more ethical surrogacy has developed in the Western world, women who do it not from a place of distress," added Michaeli.

Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the Religious Zionist Party, has expressed opposition to surrogacy in the past. In a lengthy Facebook post last year, Smotrich stressed that surrogacy "raises difficult questions of ethics and morality."

"In the end, this is about trafficking in the female body, about women who are generally weak and poor who are forced to rent out their wombs due to economic hardship, in a whole world that develops around this industry and is full of salesmen and middlemen (if we go to parallel worlds, then we can call it as it is - pimps), in a market that is conducted in cannibalistic competition between the rich who can afford to pay more, amid derivative ethical questions such as choosing the sex of the fetus, and on and on," wrote Smotrich.