update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

From Knesset floor, Israeli coalition member says Reform Jews are ‘not Jewish’

Knesset member Yinon Azoulay of the Shas Party said on July 4 that Reform Jews “are not Jewish” and then blamed non-Jews for an earthquake felt earlier that day in northern Israel.

Yinon Azoulay of the Shas Party at the Knesset assembly hall during his swearing-in as a member of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on March 14, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Yinon Azoulay of the Shas Party at the Knesset assembly hall during his swearing-in as a member of the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on March 14, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

During a debate on the Knesset floor on Wednesday, Knesset member Yinon Azoulay  of the Shas Party said that Reform Jews “are not Jewish” and then blamed non-Jews for an earthquake felt earlier that day in northern Israel.

“Maybe we should do some soul-searching and realize the earthquake happened because somebody is tampering with something that is holy to us,” he stated.

“Hear our pain, [liberal Jews] are not Jewish. Who does the prime minister give access [to our holy sites]? To those who go against us by joining all kinds of organizations?” He later added: “What do the ancient Western Wall’s stones mean to you? I advise you to take the money you invest in the State of Israel and build a wall in the U.S.”

Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said in a statement that Azoulay’s “outrageous comments directed at the majority of American Jews threaten the important relationship between Israel and the largest Jewish community outside the Jewish state.”

The statement by the Azoulay comes amid ongoing tensions between the Israeli government and the American Jewish community over a number of issues, including egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall, as well as the Israeli Rabbinate’s control over Jewish conversion and marriage.

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