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Get out Smotrich

When the Board of Deputies of British Jews told MK Bezalel Smotrich that he was “not wanted” in their country and that he should get on his plane and go back where he came from, it was using the kind of blunt language not normally associated with the good manners we expect of the British.

Smotrich, it should be recalled, opposes selling homes to Arabs, proudly refers to himself as a homophobe, supports segregation of Arab and Jewish women in Israel’s maternity wards, refers to Reform Judaism as “a fake religion” and favours transforming Israel into a theocratic state.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who appointed him as Minister of Transportation, has criticized the representative body of Anglo Jewry for not having shown an elected Knesset member the courtesy he deserved.

Bibi is clearly more interested in his future coalition prospects than in congratulating the Board of Deputies for having taken a principled stand against Smotrich’s revulsive agenda. It is the same Bibi who for political interests reneged on an agreement with Diaspora leaders to provide an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.

Smotrich should not be dismissed as an extremist looney on the political fringe. His far-right Religious Zionist party holds seven out of the 120 seats in the present Knesset and represents close to a quarter of a million voters. What is no less disturbing is that his party gleaned less than 50,000 fewer votes than Israel’s current prime minister, Naftali Bennett
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Aged just 41, we have not heard the last of Smotrich. Any right-wing government coalition would be dependent upon him and his party for its very existence, and such dependency comes with a price tag.

Smotrich’s vision of our country stands in marked contrast with that embodied in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and, not surprisingly, the Board of Deputies wanted nothing to do with him.

About the Author
Rabbi Boyden was educated and received his rabbinical ordination in London, England. Having served as the rabbi of Cheshire Reform Congregation for thirteen years, he made aliyah with his family in 1985. He has established Reform congregations in Ra'anana and Hod Hasharon and previously served as director of the Israel Reform Movement's Beit Din.
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