Flexing his intellectual muscles, Oren Hazan (Likud) challenged fellow parliamentarian Mickey Rosenthal (Labor) to a chess match Sunday morning after the latter disparaged the intelligence of Likud’s Knesset representatives.
“I challenge Rosethal to a game of chess, an IQ test — any contest he’d like,” Hazan told Channel 10.
Rosenthal made the comments at a recurring Saturday cultural event known to produce jaw-dropping comments from parliamentarians.
“The last 10 people in [Likud’s Knesset faction] share an IQ. If you combine them all…” he told the audience in Modiin, pausing as laughter ensued.
“I’m done. Everyone understood [what I meant],” Rosenthal said to the amused crowd.
The interviewer then pressed the Zionist Union MK on whether he was implying that the bottom third of Likud’s 30 lawmakers were stupid.
“No! God forbid! I was talking about IQ,” Rosenthal said, cracking a smile. “I think that a large number of them were unworthy of reaching the Knesset.”
While Hazan was Rosenthal’s lone potential chess challenger, lawmakers from across the spectrum spoke out against the IQ comments.
David Bitan (Likud) told Channel 2 that Rosenthal’s words “smack of racism and an anti-Mizrahi attitude because it’s well known that Likud’s lower roster is mostly Mizrahi” Jews.
Former environmental protection minister Avi Gabbay, who’s running for the leadership of Rosenthal’s Labor Party, slammed the observation in a tweet later that night.
“We will not beat Likud with insults and shallow talk. I hope Rosenthal will retract these unnecessary statements,” he said.
Miki Zohar (Likud) thanked Rosenthal for his comments in a sarcastic Facebook post.
“Thanks for making sure to expose your true faces. This is exactly the reason why they (Zionist Union MKs) will remain in the opposition for years to come.”
In addition to Hazan and Zohar, the bottom third of Likud’s slate consists of former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter, Ayoub Kara, Yehudah Glick, Yaron Mazuz, Avraham Neguise, Nurit Koren, Sharren Haskel, and Amir Ohana.