In the height of hypocrisy, a Pakistani website claimed Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Health Minister contracted COVID-19 as a result of “divine judgment” for blaming the pandemic on the spread of homosexuality, an accusation the minister never made. In a rush to condemn the Orthodox Jewish minister, social media and even major websites repeated the claim that echoed the Back Plague blood libels against Jews.
Naya Daur, a bi-lingual website based in Pakistan, published an article on Monday reporting on Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife Chava testing positive for the coronavirus. Most of the facts cited in the article were accurate but the article falsely claimed “The minister had termed the deadly coronavirus as ‘punishment for homosexuality’ in last month (SIC).”
As an observant Jew, Litzman has never supported bills supporting homosexual rights and has garnered criticism from the left-wing for this political position. When he demurred on such a bill in 2016, he responded to criticism by saying, “I oppose, and that is all…”
Litzman has never been accused of being antagonistic towards homosexuals.
It seems clear that Naya Daur confused Litzman with Rabbi Meir Mazuz, a Sephardic Haredi rabbi who does not have any connection with the Israeli government. Last month, Rabbi Mazuz blamed the spread of the coronavirus to Israel on the gay “pride” parades in Israel.
Rabbi Mazuz has made a long series of claims and predictions about the pandemic that have all proven to be false. He also has a long history of blaming various hardships that have befallen Israel on homosexuals.
The rabbi also claimed that the Arab countries have not been hit by the coronavirus because they are strictly against homosexuality. It is interesting to note that Naya Daur’s home in Pakistan is a Muslim majority country in which same-sex acts are criminalized. Pakistan currently has 3,864 cases of coronavirus as compared to Israel’s 9,006 cases.
It seems unclear why Naya Daur would intone divine judgment against Litzman for a homophobic opinion that is officially legislated in their native Pakistan. Punishment can lead up to the death penalty under sharia law. Pakistan does not have civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation. Neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions are permitted under current law and are scarcely ever brought up in the political discourse.
It is also unclear why so many websites would enthusiastically endorse a report that could be discredited as a lie with a basic fact-check of current events.
It should be noted that many Muslim clerics, politicians, and individuals have used the pandemic as a means of perpetuating Jew-hatred. This is a disturbing reiteration of the anti-Jewish wave of violence that accompanied the Black Plague in the 14th Century.