Ex-Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar says that the appointment of Amir Ohana, Israel’s first gay Knesset speaker, is ‘an unprecedented shame’.
Israel’s former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar spoke out against the appointment of gay Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana last Thursday, and blasted the ultra-Orthodox Knesset members who had voted for him.
“They are appointed to positions that are called honorable, [but] they have already lost all shame,” Amar said while teaching a Torah class. “This whole thing about the abominations, today they are done … Woe to that shame, woe to that disgrace.”
The rabbi later directly addressed ultra-Orthodox members of the Knesset and said: “I purposely do not want to name names, because, unfortunately, [they are] even people who are held in high regard … supported. From what I hear, this is an unprecedented shame. People who represent the Torah and the religion of God’s mercy need to strengthen themselves in this matter.”
His comments follow those from Rabbi Meir Mazuz – the prominent head of Israel’s Tunisian Jewish community – who had claimed earlier on Sunday that Ohana was “infected with disease.”
Mazuz also blamed the speaker for the Mount Meron stampede – the biggest civilian disaster in Israel’s history where 45 people were killed in a crowd crush. Ohana was responsible for policing as public security minister at the time of the annual pilgrimage in May 2021.
Ohana, who is the Knesset’s first openly gay speaker, delivered a speech on Thursday thanking lawmakers for electing him to head the authority, which he said “serves all the citizens of Israel – Jews, Arabs, Druze, LGBTQ and straight people.”
In his remarks, the Likud official spoke about his partner, Alon, and their children, Ella and David. He declared that “This Knesset, led by this chairman, will not harm them or any child or any family.”
Both MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) and Moshe Gafni – the incoming UTJ finance committee chairman – bowed their heads during his speech.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the remarks made against the LGBTQ community, and against the Knesset speaker in particular.
“Every person is created in the image of God. This is the principle that was brought to humanity thousands of years ago by our people, and it is the principle that guides us even today.”