Ben Shapiro, the 32-year-old right-wing pundit and leading target of online anti-Semites, won over a crowd of mostly Orthodox students at Yeshiva University with jabs at transgender people, liberals and non-Orthodox Jews.
Shapiro spoke of the importance of being a mensch, but was less kind when it came to describing his televised encounter with a transgender activist a year and half ago.
He went on to lay out his worldview on transgender people.
“Transgender people are unfortunately suffering from a significant mental illness that is deeply harmful, and it’s not a solution to pretend that transgender people are the sex that they think they are in their head,” Shapiro said in the Monday speech. “Biology is biology; men can’t magically become women, and women can’t magically become men.”
The former Brietbart News columnist, who later turned on the pro-Trump line the publication had taken under Steve Bannon, warned against “humoring the delusions” of transgender people, because by doing that “you are exacerbating their mental illness.”
The audience responded with cheers.
Shapiro, explaining why, in his view, most Jewish Americans vote for the Democratic Party, noted that Orthodox Jews stick to Republican values because of their religious adherence.
“Torah Judaism does not support social justice,” Shapiro said. “The Torah explicitly says that poor people should not be preferred over rich people.”
When asked later on during the question-and-answer session how he can still be a mensch while using such harsh language, Shapiro responded brusquely, “You cannot hurt people’s feelings with fact.”
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, is the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.