Israel: Smotrich says coalition members should not be allowed in synagogues

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Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, April 4, 2021
Olivier FItoussi/Flash90Religious Zionism chairman Bezalel Smotrich at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, April 4, 2021

Chief Rabbi contradicts far-right lawmaker: 'Synagogues are open to everyone, always'

Leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party Bezalel Smotrich said Tuesday that members of Israel's coalition should not be allowed to enter a synagogue. 

“I maintain that anyone who is part of this government doesn’t need to be brought into a synagogue,” he said during an interview with Kan radio. “It’s the most legitimate thing in the world.”

“Someone who lies, cheats, and steals votes. Someone who joins the radical left harming everything holy in Israel. Someone who sold out the state to the Islamic Movement and now is going to do the same to the terror supporters in the Joint List is certainly not worthy of being in the congregation, that’s completely legitimate,” Smotrich added.

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When asked about the comment, he added, "I think people who turn their back on the public should feel unwanted.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett responded at a press conference on Wednesday, “Saying ‘we all love each other, but we won’t sit with them,’ ‘we all love each other, but he won’t enter my synagogue’ — what is this?”

“I am on the right, and there are people on the left in the government; our views are completely different. But do you know what I discovered? Even people with very different views deeply love the State of Israel and this land."

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau appeared to criticize Smotrich, contradicting the lawmaker's assertion that members of the government should be kept away from places of worship. 

“Synagogues are open to everyone, always, and anyone who wants to pray in them is invited to do so, regardless of their political opinions and their worldview,” The Times of Israel quoted Lau as saying.

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