U.S. Jewish Organizations Decry 'Despicable' anti-Arab Remarks From Netanyahu Ally

Jewish groups issue sharp rebukes after Bezalel Smotrich says that Arabs who do not recognize Jewish rule over Israel 'will not remain here'

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem last week.
Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem last week.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON - Several unabashedly pro-Israel U.S. Jewish organizations decried far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich's remarks stating that he would ensure Arabs who do not recognize the Jewish people's legitimate rule over the Land of Israel “will not remain here.”

In a tweet posted on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the chairman of the far-right Religious Zionism party wrote: “I heard that after Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, may he live a long life, said that a true Muslim must know that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish People, Ahmad Tibi opened his mouth against him. So Ahmad, a true Muslim must know that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and over time Arabs like you, who do not recognize that, will not remain here. Rabbi Shmuel and tens of thousands of his students, including us, will make sure that happens.”

The Anti-Defamation League, devoted to fighting racism and prejudice while rarely offering public criticism of Israeli officials, decried Smotrich's "shameful" remarks.

"The Jewish connection to the land of Israel does not erase other people’s histories and narratives, and it must never be used to pursue a politics of Jewish supremacy," said Carole Nuriel, Director of ADL's Israel Office. "Israeli Arabs are full citizens, unconditionally, and must be treated as such.”

Democratic Majority for Israel spokesperson Rachel Rosen told Haaretz that “Smotrich, his rhetoric, and the party he represents are despicable."

DMFI, an organization that seeks to increase and ensure support for Israel within the Democratic Party, has tended to refrain from addressing domestic Israeli politics. They have, however, been demonstrably outspoken against the Likud-Religious Zionism cooperation ahead of the election, as well as saying they were "appalled to see a small party comprised of racist, Kahanist Jews join the Knesset" following the March election.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threw his weight behind the extremist party, which includes the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit faction, prior to the most recent election. It gained seven seats in the Knesset, to the consternation of the American-Jewish establishment, partly thanks to the prime minister's backing.

Several of the oldest and most influential Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in the country — including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the American Jewish Committee — declined to comment.

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