Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Lawmaker: 'There's a Quiet Holocaust Happening in the U.S. – Assimilation'

MK Israel Eichler, who also serves as deputy Knesset speaker, says 'not a trace of American Jews will be left because of work on Shabbat'

MK Israel Eichler at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 4, 2015
MK Israel Eichler at the Knesset in Jerusalem, May 4, 2015Credit: Olivier Fitouss

An Israeli ultra-Orthodox lawmaker compared the assimilation of American Jews to a "quiet Holocaust" during a Knesset debate on Thursday.

MK Israel Eichler (United Torah Judaism), who is also a deputy Knesset speaker, said, "There's a quiet Holocaust happening in the United States – assimilation." He added that "not a trace of American Jews will be left because of work on Shabbat."

Eichler was speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee on a bill that would close all businesses on the Sabbath.

Six Israeli cities are working to counter the move by first passing local municipal laws, which would allow a limited number of supermarkets to remain open, as they currently do.

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) responded to Eichler's comment: "You're not normal."

Earlier this week, Eichler sharply criticized a planned Knesset committee visit to the central Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, which was recently ordered to remove signs in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods urging women to dress modestly and keep off of sidewalks where men congregate.

He said that making him visit the flash-point city is akin to making followers of the late far-right extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane visit the Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.

Eichler has a history of provocative statements denigrating non-Orthodox Jews. In early December, he claimed that millions of American Jews assimilated because they were “cut off” from their religion as a result of being "forced" to work on Shabbat. And in 2016, he compared Reform Jews to the mentally ill, eliciting Jewish-American responses calling his statements hate speech.

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