Amir Ohana
Amir OhanaNoam Moskowitz, Knesset Spokesperson

Knesset Speaker MK Amir Ohana, the first openly gay Knesset Speaker in Israel’s history, on Sunday responded to recent criticism that has been directed at him.

“It is better that I fail a hundred times in unrequited love of Israel than fail once in baseless hatred of Israel,” he tweeted.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized a tirade against Ohana by the head of the Kisei Rahamim Yeshiva, Rabbi Meir Mazuz.

"I strongly condemn the statements against the LGBT community and the Speaker of the Knesset, Amir Ohana. Every person is created in the image of God. This is the principle that was brought to humanity thousands of years ago by our people and it is the principle that guides us today as well," Netanyahu said.

In his remarks on Saturday night, Rabbi Mazuz criticized the appointment of Ohana as Knesset Speaker and blasted the gay pride parades.

"We need to stay away from the pride parade, they are boasting that they are doing the pride parade in Jerusalem. When there is such a parade we should shut the windows, and tell the children that ‘there is a parade of beasts here’, these are animals walking on two feet, this is impudence," he said.

Rabbi Mazuz also implicitly hinted that Ohana, who served as Public Security Minister at the time of the Meron disaster in 2021, was responsible for the disaster.

"And impudence above all, two years ago when there was the disaster in Meron, they say that the minister who was responsible (Ohana -ed.), is infected with this disease, so there is the question of why did this happen to us? It happened, we have stay away from it!"

On Sunday, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, blasted the haredi MKs who voted in favor of Ohana’s appointment as Knesset Speaker.

"Woe to us for that disgrace," he said. "Woe to the ears that hear this, appointing them to so-called important positions, they have already lost all shame.”

"Unfortunately, even people who are considered God-fearing supported it, it's a disgrace. People who represent Torah and religion. This is a very serious matter. These are things that have never happened before, to make publicity out of it was a great shame. We have to be careful not to bring those people closer, not to complete a minyan for them," said Rabbi Amar.

Last week, during his first speech as Knesset Speaker, Ohana mentioned his partner, at which point haredi MKs Meir Porush and Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism party were seen bowing their heads.

Journalist Yaki Adamker reported that during Ohana's speech, Porush leaned over to Gafni and asked, "What is this?"

Other religious MKs listened with respect during Ohana's speech, including Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben Gvir and United Torah Judaism chairman Yitzhak Goldknopf.