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Israeli Politician: My Wife Should Not Have to Give Birth Next to an Arab

An Israeli Knesset member said his wife should not have to give birth next to an Arab woman.

UNDISCLOSED, GERMANY - AUGUST 12:  Empty baby beds stand in the maternity ward of a hospital (a spokesperson for the hospital asked that the hospital not be named) on August 12, 2011 in a city in the east German state of Brandenburg, Germany. According to data released by Eurostat last week Germany, with 8.3 births per 1,000 people, has the lowest birth rate in all of Europe. Eastern Germany, which not only suffers from a low birth rate, also has a declining population due to young people moving away because of high unemployment in the region. Europe as a whole suffers from a low birth rate and a growing elderly population.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
UNDISCLOSED, GERMANY - AUGUST 12: Empty baby beds stand in the maternity ward of a hospital (a spokesperson for the hospital asked that the hospital not be named) on August 12, 2011 in a city in the east German state of Brandenburg, Germany. According to data released by Eurostat last week Germany, with 8.3 births per 1,000 people, has the lowest birth rate in all of Europe. Eastern Germany, which not only suffers from a low birth rate, also has a declining population due to young people moving away because of high unemployment in the region. Europe as a whole suffers from a low birth rate and a growing elderly population. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Israeli Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich wants you to know that his wife “is really no racist.”

She just has a simple request: Next time she goes into labor, she’d prefer it be made sure an Arab woman would not be birthing a child beside her.

“It’s only natural my wife would not want to lie next to someone who just gave birth to a baby that might murder her baby in another 20 years,” Smotrich tweeted Tuesday, saying also that she wouldn’t want to be disturbed by “the mass feasts that are common among Arab mothers who give birth.”

His comments came after a segment aired on Israeli radio station Reshet Bet Tuesday, claiming that multiple hospitals in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem make segregating their maternity wards a regular practice, even when a patient does not specifically request it.

Smotrich belongs to the right-wing Jewish Home party, and has served in the Knesset since last year.

His comments prompted a letter by fellow Knesset member Abd al-Hakim Hajj Yahya of the Arab-dominated Joint List, who demanded to Speaker Yuli Edelstein that Smotrich be suspended.

“This kind of racist incitement affects an entire population, and as such cannot be ignored,” Yahya wrote. “This man’s remarks directly harm the status of the Knesset.”

Even Naftali Bennett, chairman of Jewish Home, tweeted a subtle criticism of Smotrich’s remarks. “Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of G‑d],” he wrote. “Jew or Arab.”

Still, Smotrich’s divisive comments didn’t come as much of a surprise.

He has called himself a “proud homophobe” and in 2006, he organized an anti-gay Beast Parade” in Jerusalem.

And in December 2015, Smotrich wrote a newspaper column saying that the Israeli Jews who murdered a Palestinian family in the village of Duma could not be terrorists because they were not Arab.

Photo credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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