Shas MK Yigal Guetta on Wednesday announced his resignation from the Knesset, in the wake of harsh rebuke he received from Sephardi rabbis, including rabbis affiliated with the Shas movement, who called for his dismissal for participating in his homosexual nephew’s wedding, several Haredi news websites reported. Guetta told his party chairman, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, that he would continue to work for him and for the movement in the future.
The sharp criticism directed at Guetta by the rabbis followed his interview on Army Radio where he said he had participated in his nephew’s same-sex wedding. The wedding was two years ago, before Guetta was an MK.
“About two years ago, my sister called me and she said to me, ‘Yigal, I want to make you happy, my son is getting married in two months,'” Guetta told the interviewer, and continued, “I replied, ‘Wow, what an amazing thing this is.’ Then my nephew himself spoke to me on the phone and said to me, ‘Uncle Yigal, I want to ask you a favor.’ I said to him, ‘Gladly.’
“So he says to me, ‘I want you to officiate at my Chupa.’ I told him, ‘Listen, I’m not an expert on these things, but there are people who are professionals on this subject and I promise to bring you someone who will do it for you in the best possible way.'”
Gueta then revealed that “during the conversation, my nephew says, ‘I want to tell you something: I’m homosexual and I’m marrying a man.
“I said to him, ‘You know what? This I’m really not an expert about.’ But we went, the whole family, my wife and the children – usually I don’t tell my children where to go, but at this event I told them that attendance was obligatory. We all went and rejoiced with him a lot, but at the same time, before we left, I told my children: ‘You should know that we are going to make him happy because he is my sister’s son, and this is my sister and I want to hug her, but the Torah says it is forbidden and an abomination.'”
Following the interview, senior Sephardic rabbis, including Rabbi Ben Tzion Mutzafi and Rabbi Moshe Sedaka, circulated a letter in which they demanded that the MK be fired. “On this, the heart of every person who hears it will explode with fear, and we cry and call on all our leaders not to surround us with blasphemy of an awe-inspiring God name and move [Guetta] at once from public office to a non-public post, and announce that he had been fired.”
Last week, former minister Shlomo Benizri of Shas attacked Guetta on his show on religious radio station Kol Barama, saying, I was shocked, how does a Jew who calls himself ultra-Orthodox, from a party led by a Council of Sages, speak like that? Instead of hiding in the closet, he tells this to the entire nation of Israel? This is defiance of Heaven. One of the foundations of repentance is to have shame of the crimes you have committed, but to go and boast about the offense? We’ve lost our capacity for shame.”
Of course, Benizri himself knows a thing or two about defiance of Heaven: on 27 April 2008, a district court sentenced him to 18 months in jail for accepting bribes and ruled that his crimes amounted to moral turpitude, which disqualify him from being elected for a stretch. He shared a cell for while with former President Moshe Katzav. Benizri blamed everybody and their uncle for his conviction, so that covers the loss of shame thing.
Guetta for his part insists that the decision to resign was his own, about which he is proud and has no intention to apologize for the interview. A source close to the former MK told Walla, “Shas is apparently not ready to accommodate him. He does not intend to change his views or actions. He thinks that the various sectors of the public should be brought closer together, that we should connect the extremes within the nation, not split them apart.”