A spokesman for Education Minister Rafi Peretz confirmed Tuesday that Peretz said that “assimilation is like the Holocaust” in a July 1 session.
Peretz is leader of a religious nationalist political party and former chief rabbi of the Israeli military.
Much of the American Jewish community abides by more liberal streams of Judaism, whereas Orthodoxy prevails among Israeli Jews.
Relations between North American Jews and the Israeli government have been strained in recent years after plans for a mixed-gender prayer area at the Western Wall were scrapped in 2017, and over differing opinions about President Donald Trump.
The 63-year-old Orthodox rabbi is no stranger to controversy.
Two months ago the Jewish Home leader refused to give a speech to a group of girls from a women’s Orthodox seminary ahead of their IDF enlistment, demonstrating a disagreement on the issue of drafting women into military with his predecessor (who served as an education minister and headed the Jewish Home) Naftali Bennett.