Rabbi Meir Mazuz, the rabbinic leader of Tunisian Jews in Israel, spoke against newly appointed Speaker of the Knesset Amir Ohana during an online lecture on Saturday, calling him “diseased,” for being part of the LGBTQ community.
A close affiliate of far-right and religious political figures - including Shas party leader Aryeh Deri and Religious Zionist party leader Bezalel Smotrich - Mazuz also commented on the annual LGBTQ Pride Parade in Israel, saying its participants were “beasts walking upright.”
“Close the windows and tell your children that this is a parade of beasts, and they shouldn’t look,” Mazuz said. “There are beasts here who walk upright.”
In another part of his lecture Mazuz insinuated that Ohana’s sexual orientation was the cause of the Mount Meron disaster in April 2021, in which 44 people were killed and as many as 150 injured. Ohana, who then acted as public security minister, was in charge of overseeing the event’s planning.
“Two years ago, something happened at Meron, and they say that the minister who was responsible for the event was touched with the disease. So, do we even need to question why it happened to us?”
Itamar Ben-Gvir, a disciple of Mazuz, said in a statement released by his office that Ohana was a worthy and principled man. "He loves and acts for the benefit of Israel. Humiliating and putting down people goes against the teachings of God,” the statement read.
Ohana, the first openly gay Speaker of the Knesset, said members of the LGBTQ community in Israel will not come to any harm despite anti-LGBTQ comments made by some of the coalition members.
“If there’s a boy or a girl watching the swearing in of the government, know that you can achieve whatever you want, no matter where you come from,” Ohana said. His partner and two children were present in the Knesset for the occasion.
Ran Shalhavi, head of the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, said Mazuz's comments "enable violent acts against members of the LGBTQ community."
“Rabbi Mazuz exposes his violent and homophobic tendencies with vile remarks that would be better never to have been said. Rabbi Mazuz, neither you nor your supporters will hold us back.”