Israeli MK: ‘We would all like the state to act according to the Torah’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Israeli MK: ‘We would all like the state to act according to the Torah’

Right-wing politician Bezalel Smotrich responds to criticism over his comments by accusing people of distorting his words

Bezalel Smotrich (Wikipedia/איתן פולד)
Bezalel Smotrich (Wikipedia/איתן פולד)

Right-wing politician Bezalel Smotrich, responding to criticism of reports that he again had called for Israel to be governed by Jewish law, said his words were distorted to fuel anti-religious feelings.

“We would all like the state to act according to the Torah and halacha,” Smotrich told a conference of rabbis in Jerusalem on Monday.

He acknowledged this was unlikely to occur anytime soon because “there are other people who think differently and we need to get along with them.”

Smotrich, currently the transportation minister, heads the Tkuma party, which has been part of the Jewish Home since 2015 and is serving in Knesset as part of the Union of Right-Wing Parties. He is running for Knesset as part of the United Right.

Smotrich also said that as transportation minister, he would work to prevent construction, infrastructure and maintenance work on Shabbat, which has been controversial in the past.

In a statement Tuesday, he responded to criticism.

“I spoke to a room full of people from all walks of Jewish religious life and said we would all like to live in a country governed by the Torah and the Halacha. That is the religious will of any observant Jew,” he said. “But in the same breath, I agreed that we all understand we cannot, nor do we want to force our beliefs on others and that since we share our country with people who think differently, we must find solutions that are considerate of the public as a whole.”

The United Right in a statement called the reporting of his comments a “media lynching” of Smotrich.

“Minister Smotrich spoke last night at the conference about his personal belief, and simultaneously emphasised that he cannot and isn’t interested in forcing it on others,” the statement said.

Smotrich made similar comments in early June when he said that the Israeli justice system should be run according to religious Jewish law and said the country should go back to operating as it did in the days of King David and King Solomon.”

Avigdor Liberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu party and has steadfastly refused to give in to the demands of the Charedi  parties on issues including enlisting in the Israeli military, again slammed Smotrich for his comments.

“It’s unbelievable that yet again, without even blinking, Minister Smotrich declares that if it was up to him and his friends, they would annul the laws of the State of Israel and force a halachic state on us,” Liberman said in comments Monday night that he also posted on Facebook.

Smotrich has called himself a “proud homophobe” and called the Jerusalem Pride Parade an “abomination parade.” He was slammed in 2016 for saying that Arab and Jewish women should be put in separate rooms in the maternity wards of Israeli hospitals. He also called Reform Judaism a “fake religion.”


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: