120 U.S. Jewish leaders: Israel’s Smotrich ‘not welcome’ here after racist comments

The finance minister should be shunned over his “anti-Arab racism, virulent homophobia and full-throated embrace of Jewish supremacy,” the largely left-wing leaders said. 

By World Israel News Staff

One-hundred and twenty American Jewish leaders on Friday signed a statement decrying Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s visit to the US later this month, saying the Religious Zionism party head “should not be given a platform in our community.”

Smotrich came under fire for suggesting Israel “wipe out” the Palestinian village of Huwara, the site of a terror attack earlier in the week, in which two brothers were killed. His remarks prompted a condemnation by the U.S. State Department, with spokesperson Ned Price telling reporters that they “were irresponsible. They were repugnant. They were disgusting.”

According to a Channel 12 report on Saturday evening, the U.S. may consider denying Smotrich a visa over the remarks.

Smotrich told the news Channel that his remarks were a “slip of the tongue” made in “a storm of emotions.”

The statement by U.S. Jewish leaders, which was initiated by the left-wing Israel Policy Forum, said they were opposed to Smotrich’s upcoming visit to speak at the Israel Bonds annual conference in Washington later this month.

“We are opposed to Bezalel Smotrich visiting the United States later this month in his capacity as Israel’s finance minister, and we call on all pro-Israel Americans to understand that welcoming Smotrich here will harm, rather than help, support for Israel,” the statement said.

“Smotrich has long expressed views that are abhorrent to the vast majority of American Jews, from anti-Arab racism, to virulent homophobia, to a full-throated embrace of Jewish supremacy. To this list, we can now add his endorsement of violence against innocents based on their ethnic heritage,” it continued.

The signatories — among whom are leaders from the left-wing lobbies J Street and Americans for Peace Now — say they “reject the notion that someone must be accorded respect simply by dint of serving in the Israeli government.”

Dozens of Jewish rioters demanding firm action against terrorism torched Palestinian property in the village of Huwara on Sunday evening as an act of revenge for the death of the brothers, Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, who were killed earlier in the day in a terrorist shooting attack. The terrorist is still at large.

Labor party member Yaya Fink launched an online crowdfunding campaign for Huwara – which has raised more than half a million dollars for Palestinian victims of the rampage to date – drawing ire from the brothers’ mother, Esti Yaniv.

“I get up every morning looking out at the village of murderers Huwara, where the murderer of my sons is walking around,” Esti Yaniv said in a video posted online Thursday. “The village of murderers, where treats were handed out [in celebration of the murder].”

She said she was “horrified” by the crowdfunding drive, which she called “a backward campaign for the people who handed out baklavas after the murder of my children.”

Israel Bonds has on Thursday said that it had no intention of withdrawing its invitation to Smotrich, saying it “remains unbiased with regard to any political party or affiliation” and that “finance ministers from across the political spectrum have historically” attended its events.

Asked at a conference why he had “liked” a tweet by Samaria Regional Council deputy mayor Davidi Ben Zion that called “to wipe out the village of Huwara today,” Smotrich answered: “Because I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it.”

He condemned the riots, saying “we shouldn’t be dragged into anarchy in which civilians take the law into their own hands.”

He later claimed the media was creating a “distorted interpretation” of his comments. Huwara is a “hostile village,” Smotrich claimed, where residents throw rocks and shoot at Israelis every day and that he was not against the IDF issuing a “response” against all acts of terrorism.

Later in the day he said: “So there isn’t any doubt, I did not mean wipe out the village of Huwara, rather act in a targeted manner against the terrorists and supporters of terrorism living there and to exact a heavy price from them in order to restore security to the [Jewish] residents of the area.”

On Saturday night, Smotrich said his “word choice was wrong, but the intention was very clear.”

“It was a slip of the tongue in a storm of emotions,” he told Channel 12, and it “goes without saying that I did not intend to call for violence of any kind.”

He also refused to call the rampage an act of terror, deemed as such by the IDF.

It was “a very serious nationalist crime, but not terror,” he said, and added that Huwara was a “village that is brimful of terror.”

The post 120 U.S. Jewish leaders: Israel’s Smotrich ‘not welcome’ here after racist comments appeared first on World Israel News.

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