MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism) commented recently that he would not oppose the amendment of a law forbidding businesses from discriminating on racial grounds In October 2022, a California court ruled that a bakery may refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding that is against the owner's Christian religious beliefs.
MK Orit Strook later extended that sentiment to include healthcare providers, saying that she believes healthcare providers should not be forced to provide treatment that conflicts with their religious beliefs, as long as there were other practitioners who could provide the same service. "We must not treat Jewish religious law as being of less value."
The remarks drew a considerable amount of criticism, including from Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu, who insisted that "the remarks represent neither my opinion nor that of my colleagues in the Likud party. We will ensure that there will be no infringement on the rights of any citizen of Israel."
Hagit Pe’er, the head of the Na’amat women’s rights advocacy organization, denounced the statements as well: "I am hearing statements that are beginning to resemble the darker periods of the last century. It iis hard to believe that they are being heard in the State of Israel that was established after the Holocaust. It is not right and left, but uneducated people who want to destroy the lives of all of us here. The prime minister-designate must assert himself against this immediately.”
The former Speaker of the Knesset, MK Mickey Levy, commented: "It's not important what Netanyahu says, it's important what he does. His complete surrender to the extremists within the framework of the coalition agreements will allow the racists and the LGBT-phobes to set the tone in the Ben Gvir-Strook government. The disgusting and horrifying statements from future minister Strook are just one expression of the darkness he is bringing down on the country with his own hands."
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz commented: "The intention to introduce discrimination into the health care system and medical care based on origin, skin color, religion, or gender is revolting. Discrimination among caregivers and patients is in complete opposition to the basic rules of the health care system and of a sane human society. The health system will continue to be the most mixed and diverse system, without a trace of racism and discrimination - with Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, women and men, LGBT, rich and poor - in all professions and health institutions - whether patients or caregivers. Orit Strook from Hebron and Samira Fatahii from Acre will receive equal and appropriate treatment from every doctor and nurse, every pharmacist and every healthcare insurance provider. The faith or origin or inclination of the therapist and the patient are not relevant. The entire health system will rise up against any attempt to change this.”
The Minister of Tourism, Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid) wrote a letter to hotel owners regarding the proposed changes: "The expected amendment to the discrimination law will leave a stain on the tourism industry in Israel and will significantly harm incoming tourism from the liberal countries of the world. This will make it difficult for tourism to return to the way it was before COVID-19. You must be prepared for the new direction that the State of Israel is taking.”
MK Rothman later issued a clarification: “I said only that I support the right of business owners to do with their business as they please, not that I support everything that they would do.”
MK Strook published a clarification as well: "No one intends to discriminate against LGBT people because of their identity or inclination, not in medical care, nor in any other service. LGBT people are human beings, and deserve respect and love like everyone else. It is not about the patient's identity at all, but the essence of the treatment. If there is medical treatment that is against the Jewish law, an observant Jewish doctor will not be forced to give it, regardless of the patient's identity."