A brief aside to a revered rabbi Tuesday got Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into more hot water in a heated debate over "who is a Jew."
"Leftists have forgotten what it is to be Jewish. They think they will put our security in the hands of Arabs -- that Arabs will look out for us," he told Rabbi Yitzhak Kadoori in remarks picked up by an Israel Radio microphone over the noise of music at the rabbi's birthday party.
"We will give them (the Arabs) part of the land and they will look after us -- who ever heard of something like that," said Netanyahu, who marked his 48th birthday Tuesday.
Opposition politicians condemned Netanyahu for the remarks, despite his spokesman's insistence that they were taken out of context.
"Netanyahu cannot preach to us what is Judaism and what is security responsibility -- especially when his 'accomplishments' in fighting terror over the last 15 months are taken into consideration," said Ehud Barak, leader of the main opposition Labor Party.
"Netanyahu has forgotten what it is to be a human being," said Yossi Sarid, leader of the left-wing Meretz party.
Netanyahu is embroiled in a controversy over legislation that would enshrine in Israeli law Orthodox monopoly on conversions to Judaism in the Jewish state.
American Jews, most of whom are Reform or Conservative, oppose the law and want to break the Orthodox hold over Jewish ritual in Israel.