(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned comments by Israeli lawmakers who accused Reform Jews of trying to destroy the Jewish people.
“Wholesale and ad hominem attacks on any part of the Jewish people are inappropriate and unacceptable,” Netanyahu said Thursday, according to the Jewish Post.
On Wednesday, Yigal Guetta, a lawmaker from the Orthodox Sephardic party Shas, compared Reform Jews to Haman, the villain of the Purim holiday, which is being celebrated Thursday.
“Haman thought he could destroy, slay and exterminate the Jews for only one reason — because Jews were spread and divided among the nations. That division is a tragedy,” Guetta said.
“One thousand, six hundred years later, we’re facing a new attempt to divide us, and unfortunately, it’s coming from the inside, from people in a costume of liberalism. They are going to bring a spiritual and material disaster. They eat away at everything good in Israel and the Jewish people.”
Another Shas lawmaker, David Azoulay, accused Reform Jews of using their money and influence “in order to sabotage God’s Torah.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, condemned Guetta’s remark as “shameful and pathetic,” and called the lawmaker ignorant of the Reform movement.
“If [Queen] Esther lived today she would no doubt be active in a Reform congregation, one that understood that Jewish life must never stop evolving,” Jacobs said of the Purim heroine. “Esther is married to a non-Jewish man, is more flexible with her ritual observance, but most importantly loves her people and saves them through her courageous leadership.
“This Purim, I hope that Jews stop speaking hateful words towards those who practice Judaism differently and instead find inspiring ways to protect and strengthen the Jewish people throughout the world.”