Israeli minister calls himself ‘fascist homophobe’ in leaked recording – but says he ‘won’t stone gays’

Bezalel Smotrich

Far-right Israeli minister Bezalel Smotrich has outed himself as a homophobe on a recording released by the country’s public broadcaster Kan.

The chilling recording reveals finance minister Smotrich saying he’s a “fascist homophobe” but “won’t stone gays”.

Kan published the chat between Smotrich, who is also the deputy speaker of the Knesset – Israel’s parliament – and a businessman on Monday (16 January) where the politician can be heard making vile comments about LGBTQ+ people.

“A Sephardi [a traditional Jew] do you think he [the businessman] cares about gays? He couldn’t care less,” Smotrich said in the recording.

“I’m a fascist homophobe, but I’m a man of my word,” he continued. “I won’t stone gays, and you won’t feed me shrimp.”

The 42-year-old head of the far-right Religious Zionism party was also recorded saying that his supporters would back him because he was the only person who “didn’t cooperate with the United Arab List and is safeguarding the land of Israel for [their] grandchildren”.

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People took to Twitter in disgust at Bezalel Smotrich, with one saying: “Somebody needs to tell him that ‘those people’ are JEWISH PEOPLE.”

Another wrote: “Israel still has the most progressive LGBT rights of any country in the MENA region and probably is among the most progressive in all of Asia.

“They might have crazy people in the government [right now] but it doesn’t change anything lol.”

The comments about shrimps, which are seen by many Jewish people as not being kosher, and homophobia quickly caused a stir within Israel’s government. Former prime minister and leader of the opposition, Yair Lapid, took to Twitter to say: “This reminds us how weak [prime minister] Netanyahu is and how dangerous it is that he’s kept captive by extremists.

“It’s not a question of left or right, and it’s not a question of the Likud or Yesh Atid [parties]. The major question is whether you love your fellow man or hate him.”

Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu heads a coalition of nationalist and religious parties that won the general election in November and his government is seen as the most right-wing in Israel’s history.

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