Michael Malkieli
Michael Malkieli FLASH90

A Shas MK accused by left-wing lawmakers of comparing members of the Reform movement to dogs doubled down on his refusal to issue an apology to the Reform movement, telling Arutz Sheva that the accusations against him were spin, based on the clear misinterpretation of his words.

During a discussion in the Knesset last week, MK Michael Malkieli defended his party’s opposition to mixed-gender prayer spaces at the Western Wall Plaza, saying that many locales around the world enforced traditional customs.

"[T]here are also places in the world where dogs are forbidden to enter,” Malkieli said, using some local bans on dogs as an example of customs some tourists find unusual, but adhere to nevertheless.

But some left-wing MKs claimed Malkieli’s comments suggested a comparison between dogs and members of the Reform movement, which has pushed for mixed-gender prayer spaces at the main Western Wall Plaza.

MK Michal Biran ("Zionist Camp") said, "I hope you're not comparing dogs to women!"

A day later, Malkieli issued a “clarification”, but refused to apologize, saying that there had been a simple misunderstanding.

"Just as we respect those around us, it is time that we demand that Diaspora Jewry respect us as well. I did not compare women to dogs, I said that we expect the Reform to understand the sanctity of our Western Wall as we see it."

Despite this explanation, representatives of the Reform movement in Israel have called on Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to punish Malkieli over his refusal to issue an apology.

Speaking with Arutz Sheva Monday, Malkieli insisted that while his remarks may have caused some confusion, he had said nothing wrong.

“I’m not going to apologize for anything, because I didn’t say anything. There was a discussion on the Western Wall Plaza deal, and I expressed my regret that the deal was merely frozen and not cancelled outright. I expect every person to adhere to the local customs of wherever they are. Just as there are places that don’t allow you to take pictures, or that require you to dress modestly or not to bring in dogs, so too at the Western Wall you need to come according to the local customs.”

“Right [after the comments last week], people began attacking me out of ignorance and a lack of understanding, thinking that I had compared people to dogs, and that’s simply not true. The Western Wall is a holy place, not a museum, and anyone who cares about the Western Wall’s sanctity needs to visit in a manner that is appropriate.”