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WASHINGTON โ€“ The mayor of Beit Shemesh is facing blowback from American Jewish groups after calling gays a health problem that needs to be โ€œtaken care of.โ€

โ€œThere are no gays in my city, thank God,โ€ Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul told Channel 10 News earlier this week, referring to gays as unholy and impure.

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โ€œExpressions of intolerance have no place in Israeli public discourse, especially coming from elected officials,โ€ Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement on Tuesday, calling on Abutbul to apologize. โ€œWe strongly condemn the insensitive and hurtful comments made by Beit Shemeshโ€™s mayor about his cityโ€™s LGBT population.โ€

In a published letter to Abutbul on Monday, leaders of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington asked the mayor to retract his comments, calling them hurtful, offensive and false.

โ€œWe are outraged by your comments recently on Channel 10, in which you said there are no homosexuals in your โ€˜holy and pureโ€™ city,โ€ read the letter.

Washingtonโ€™s local government has a sister-city relationship with Beit Shemesh.

Jewish and pro-Israel groups in the United States are uniformly supportive of equal rights initiatives for gays, often highlighting shared democratic values between the two nations. Bโ€™nai Bโ€™rith International, currently fighting for a law on Capitol Hill that will prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace, characterized itself as โ€œa staunch supporter of equality and toleranceโ€ this week.

Interior Minister Gideon Saโ€™ar, whose ministry is responsible for local government, expressed disgust at Abutbulโ€™s statements.

โ€œWhat the mayor of Beit Shemesh said against gays is dark and outrageous,โ€ Saโ€™ar wrote on Facebook. โ€œI condemn his words and hope all local authorities will remember this verse from Pirkei Avot [Ethics of Our Fathers 1:11]: Be cautious in your words, for you may be exiled and banished to a place of heresy, and the disciples who follow you there may drink and die, and the Name of Heaven will be desecrated.โ€
Mypinkpal Team
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