As the coronavirus outbreak in Israel and the world intensifies, Rabbi Meir Mazuz, who promised that the virus would not affect Israel, blamed the continuing outbreak on pride parades.
"We are strict about the words of the Torah by washing hands and the rest of the commandments," said Mazuz at the Kisei Rahamim Yeshiva on Saturday night, according to Israel Hayom.
Mazuz is the dean of the Bnei Brak yeshiva and spiritual patron of Shas renegade Eli Yishai and his Yahad movement.
"This pride parade is a parade against nature, and anyone who does something against nature, the one who created nature takes revenge on him," he said. "When you do things against nature, you place your hand in fire and pray that the fire doesn't burn you? It burns you! Here they are doing [something] against nature in impertinence: the pride parade. What are you proud of?"
The rabbi claimed that all countries that have parades have been affected by the virus, but that Arab countries which don't have pride parades do not have the virus. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and a number of other countries throughout the Middle East have been affected by the virus.
Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death, has been hit especially hard by the virus, with a higher death rate than the global average. Mazuz claimed that the outbreak there was due to "vices" and because "they hate Israel horribly," according to Israel Hayom.
Israel has reported 58 cases of the novel coronavirus in the country as of Tuesday morning, about 20 of them in the last 24 hours.
"It is very regrettable and unfortunate that in the moments that the entire world is united in order to eradicate the coronavirus, Rabbi Mazuz finds it correct to blame the LGBT+ community, and to treat [its] members as if they were responsible for the outbreak of the disease," said the Anti-Defamation League's Israel branch on Facebook on Sunday, in response to Mazuz's statements. "We strongly condemn these words and call on the rabbi to apologize."
Blue and White MK Yorai Lahav Hertzanu responded to Mazuz's remarks on Facebook, writing: "The words of Meir Mazuz are madness. Incitement against people just because they exist may have been routine at the beginning, middle and end of the 20th century. In 2020, [however,] there is no room for ceremonies of fear and hate of this type, and it is regrettable that a stage is given to them at all in the Israeli public.
Mazuz has blamed a number of tragedies on pride parades, including the terrorist attack in which Eitam and Naama Henkin were killed in 2015.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.