Betzalel Smotrich, a 36-year-old member of parliament from the Jewish Home party, which is part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, is an ultra-nationalist settler who is frequently outspoken on issues of religion and the Palestinians. He said that Jewish and Arab women should be separated in maternity wards in apartheid-style segregation.
"My wife really isn't a racist, but after giving birth she wants to rest and doesn't want those mass parties that are the norm among the families of Arab women after birth," Smotrich said on Twitter, joining a debate about hospital practices. "It's natural that my wife wouldn't want to lie next to someone whose baby son might want to murder my son," he added.
Smotrich has in the past referred to the need to separate from the Palestinians, a view shared by those in the ultra-nationalist-religious camp represented by Jewish Home.
As it happens with the 'only democracy' in the Middle East, his racist views received messages of support. Fortunately, there are some who are horrified by such racism.
Ben Caspit, writing in the popular Ma'ariv paper, said Smotrich and his supporters were akin to "Judeo-Nazis". "No, Smotrich is not a Nazi, but he is a Jew who has come as close as possible to this questionable title," he wrote. "A hair's breadth away. He does not demand to set up concentration camps and to build gas chambers, but he does have a racist ideology."
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