Rabbi blames Israel earthquakes on LGBTQ+ community: ‘God said you are shocking your people’

Rabbi Amar

The chief rabbi of Jerusalem has blamed the shockwaves that have hit Israel, following the devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, on the country’s LGBTQ+ community.

Shlomo Amar, who was formerly the Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel, made the bizarre claim recently, saying the tremors were the direct result of the rise of rights and freedoms – particularly same-sex marriage – being given to queer people in the country.

In his weekly sermon, Amar used a passage from the Talmud – an ancient Jewish text, central to the religion’s cultural life – to back his wild claim.

The accusation comes after about 50,000 people were killed during the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria last month.

“God said you are shocking your people for something that is not yours,” Amar said, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Rabbi Amar has a history of homophobic statements

Many who follow the rabbi will not be shocked by the comments.

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In 2019, he described homosexuality as a “cult of abomination” saying Jewish law meant that LGBTQ+ people should face the death penalty.

The only time the capital punishment has been used by Israel since it became a state in 1948 was following the trial and conviction of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, more than 60 years ago.

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In a further dig, he said that gay people could not be religious Jews, adding that homosexuality was a “lust that needs to be overcome” and, in an apparent jibe at the Jerusalem Pride march, that “animals and wild beasts don’t behave like that”.

In response, three groups representing LGBTQ+ Jews – Bat-Kol, Havruta and the Gay Religious Community – called out his remarks in a statement.

“Rabbi Amar, with your harsh comments you called on our families to vomit us out of our homes and from our communities,” it read.

An Israeli flag, with the colours of the LGBTQ+ pride flag, waves above a crowd of people marching in a pride parade
The rabbi hit out at a recent Pride march held in Jerusalem (Getty)

The Anti-Defamation League added: “Jerusalem chief rabbi Amar’s hateful comments about the #LGBTQ community are antithetical to Jewish values of tolerance and acceptance. Religious leaders should respect all people and positively engage with the entire community.”

Meanwhile, Israeli news anchor Ori Qual, who is gay, used a section of his time on air to call out the rabbi and his homophobic statements.

“As a gay man, rabbi Amar, and as someone who was sent on behalf of this channel to Turkey to cover the earthquakes, it’s good to know that in your opinion, I and my community members are responsible for this disaster,” he said.

“In a democratic, western and progressive country, a person like you should not receive a salary from taxpayers’ money.” 

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