On June 11, 1999, U.S. President William J. Clinton proclaimed June as the ‘Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.’ Bill Clinton’s Proclamation. Countries around the world soon followed in Clinton’s footsteps.
In Israel, there have been Tel Aviv based Gay Pride Parades since 1993.
Originally motivated by local political issues, by the year 2000 the annual Parade developed into a global entertainment and social celebration.
For 23 years, Tel Aviv Pride has attracted tens of thousands of LGBTQ individuals from around the world. This year over 250,000 LGBTQ attendees are expected to celebrate in Israel’s largest, most diversified, cosmopolitan coastal city.
Never without controversy, Prime Minister Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition partners have for years exploited and cashed in on the backs of Israel’s LGBTQ community.
Bibi’s partners consistently green-light major funds for the Ministry of Tourism to promote LGBTQ tourism rather than fund organizations to protect and meet the needs of Israeli LGBTQ citizens.
Regional Islamic Intolerance
Surrounded by Muslim countries where homosexuality is illegal, (except for Jordan and Bahrain) Tel Aviv Pride is easily the largest LGBTQ event in the Middle East and Asia.
In Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Syria and Tunisia same-sex activity is punishable by imprisonment.
Homosexual activity is punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
In Gaza and the Palestinian West Bank territories, all too often homosexual men are tortured, their bodies mutilated, defiled and left in ditches along roadsides.
On Wednesday May 31, the Iranian backed Hamas terror organization which controls the Gaza Strip denounced the upcoming Jerusalem Pride Parade.
Hamas labeled it as “a provocative march of perverts.”
A Hamas Spokesman publicly called on all Palestinians to confront LGBTQ participants “in defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Israeli Right-Wing Intolerance in Jerusalem Led to Murder
Because of the historic and religious nature of Jerusalem, the annual parade all too often faces opposition from homophobic right wing politicians, extremists, orthodox and ultra-orthodox religious leaders and their students.
The first Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, organized by the non-profit organization, “The Jerusalem Open House For Pride and Tolerance” was held in 2002. Jerusalem Open House Hebrew Only
During the 2005 Jerusalem Pride Parade, Yishai Schlissel, a right-wing religious fanatic attacked and stabbed several men and women. Schlissel was arrested and served 10 years in jail.
On the July 30, 2015 Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade newly released Schlissel stabbed five participants and murdered 16 year old Israeli lesbian, Shira Banki. Shira’s Murder Saves Lives
Every year Shira’s parents, Uri and Mika attend the annual Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade. And every year there’s a Memorial For Shira along the parade route on Keren Hayesod Street where she was attacked.
Shira is remembered with flowers, candles and repetition of the ‘Mourner’s Kaddish,’ the Hebraic prayer for the dead whose last line reads, “He who makes peace from His heavenly throne, He who brings peace to the entire world and all of Israel, let us say, Amen.”
Although far from perfect, through years of Bibi’s Coalitions of Broken Promises, the LGBTQ community continued to thrive. And at times even protected by the Supreme Court.
In all branches of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), openly lesbian, gay and bisexual soldiers can freely serve without fear of discrimination. Soldiers are permitted to freely attend Gay Pride Parades and the IDF recognizes same-sex relationships, widows and widowers.
Bibi’s Homophobic Partners: Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Avi Maoz
Before the November 2022 elections, with over 72% of Israelis in favor of same-sex marriage, there were expectations the LGBTQ community would receive further civil rights, funding and legal protection.
Then the unexpected happened.
Bibi Netanyahu put together a coalition of far right, religious fanatics, racists, greedy, sexist, self-declared homophobes.
On the left is Bezalel Smotrich. The newly appointed Finance Minister, Smotrich is leader of the far right extremist “Religious Zionist Party.” He resides in the illegal (by international law) West Bank settlement of Kedumim.
Literary hours before the 2023-2024 budget was passed, Smotrich padded the budget for Settler Groups and quashed a 2 billion shekel ($580,000,000) five-year investment plan for East Jerusalem in areas of education, infrastructure and employment. From Haaretz, Smotrich’s Budget
Smotrich is a disciple of his father, Rabbi Haim Smotrich. And in his early years of activism Smotrich was arrested on suspicion of organizing violent domestic terrorist activities.
For many years Smotrich publicly called himself a”proud homophobe.” In a recent recording he labeled himself a “fascist homophobe.”
Smotrich is devoted to his political party’s spiritual adviser, Rabbi Chaim Druckman, whose main goal is to turn Israel into a Theocracy, based upon the laws of the Torah.
When interviewed Smotrich said, “The laws of Torah are far more preferable than the state of law instituted by Aharon Barak.” (Aharon Barak is a former Supreme Court justice).
On the right side of the photograph is Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Goldstein
Itamar Ben-Gvir lives in the illegal West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba in the Palestinian city of Hebron. He was convicted of inciting terrorism, threatened Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, celebrated the devastating stroke that ended the career of right-wing, Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and incites violence against Palestinians. (For information on Ben Gvir’s political antics check out Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Reputation
Before seriously entering politics, Ben-Gvir was advised to remove a photograph of his hero, a former Kiryat Arba Settler and ‘Kach Party’ Member, the late Jewish domestic terrorist Baruch Goldstein.
Born in Brooklyn, Goldstein earned his medical degree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
In 1983, at the age of 27, Goldstein arrived in Israel.
Serving as a physician in the army, Goldstein refused to treat any Arab including Arab IDF soldiers.
Married with four children, on the 25th of February 1994 (Jewish holiday of Purim) Dr. Baruch Goldstein entered the “Tomb of the Patriarchs” sacred to Abrahamic religions who believe all three founding couples, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac with Rebecca and Jacob and Leah are buried there.
Dressed in an IDF officers uniform, Goldstein entered the Mosque area of the cave and massacred 29 worshipping Palestinian Muslims, wounding a further 125 worshippers. Eventually several survivors attacked Goldstein who was beaten to death.
Ben-Gvir not only admires Goldstein, Ben-Gvir is vehemently anti-LGBTQ.
Ben-Gvir protested and demonstrated against Jerusalem Gay Pride Parades. Photographed and filmed shouting curses and obscenities, his outrageous anger bordered on incitement to violence.
Along with Smotrich, Ben-Gvir participated in anti-gay rallies and demonstrations in Jerusalem. In November 2006 both men among dozens of extreme-right-wing religious activists, participated in the “Beast Parade.” Anti-Gay Beast Parade
The ultra-orthodox and orthodox Jewish protestors brought goats and donkeys to their anti-gay demonstration. The young and old men carried signs, “Jerusalem, I Am Outraged,” and “Enough Uncleanliness.” They shouted the beasts never committed sins and were cleaner than gay men.
Ben-Gvir is the real winner
On March 23, 2023, Bibi faced a general strike as a reaction to the Judicial Overhaul and the firing of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. To calm the situation, Bibi agreed to put the overhaul discussion on hold.
Itamar Ben-Gvir was angry with Bibi’s decision. Simply put he blackmailed Bibi with threats of bringing down the government.
To shore up his coalition and calm down the volatile Itamar, Bibi handed Ben-Gvir the title of Minister of National Security with a one billion shekels budget and promises of his own private militia.
Ben-Gvir’s dream came true and Bibi’s coalition was saved. The general strike never happened, Israelis breathed a sigh of relief and went shopping. Passover was a mere 5 days away.
And then came Avi Maoz
Member of Knesset Avi Maoz is the most extreme homophobe misogynist in Bibi’s coalition.
Maoz is the chairman of the very far-right, conservative Religious Zionist political party, “Noam.”
Their primary goal is the advancement of anti-LGBTQ policies.
Maoz and his supporters believe public sector entities including the Ministry of Education and the Israel Defense Forces have been infiltrated by feminist and LGBTQ individuals and organizations.
Maoz is against secularism, continues to campaign heavily against LBGTQ rights, continues to call for a ban on Pride Parades and promotes making the controversial ‘conversion therapy’ legal.
He is against women serving in the military and promotes segregation in all public events.
It was reported in mid 2022 that Maoz keeps a list of women/feminist/lesbian and gay famous personalities, entertainers and members of the media who he has labeled as ‘advisors’ promoting their own radical liberal agenda.
From the May 29th Haaretz Editorial (Israel’s Snitch-in-Chief), “Maoz has a lot of experience in “monitoring” material, “supervising” people and branding them politically. Over the past year, the media reported that Noam kept lists of LGBTQ people in the media and the education system, as well as feminists who advise the military.”
When the November 2022 election returns were finalized and all votes counted, Maoz actually won a seat in the Knesset.
Bibi is in the middle of his fraud, bribery and breach of trust court cases. He will do anything to secure his position as prime minister to manipulate the laws in his bid to avoid jail. Brookings Commentary, King Bibi
To make Avi Maoz happy, Bibi endowed by pointing him as chairman of the “Jewish Identity Authority” with a budget of $76,000,000.
Maoz will serve as an ‘independent supervisor’ along side the Ministry of Education. He will examine school curricula and after school activities.
His huge budget will be used to “encourage religious observance among students and adults,” and programs that will foster, “Jewish national identity.” This to is in coordination with the Ministry of Education.
According to the latest reports, dozens of mayors and regional councils have refused to work with Maoz or support his agenda. And over 200 school principals have signed a petition protesting Maoz’s appointment.
May 30th Jerusalem Post editorial reports: “Avi Maoz has no place in Israel’s government. The problem with Maoz being in charge is that he and his party advocate extremist views that are anti-pluralist and anti-secular, anti-feminist and anti-LGBT.”
Estimates of 30,000 – 50,000 LGBTQ citizens and friends came to Jerusalem on Thursday. The family friendly Jerusalem Pride Parade was labeled the most important LGBTQ march in modern Israel’s 75 years.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel His Exc. Tom Nides who attended the Parade said, “We work with the LGBTQ community, we love you and want to support you. This is the spirit of America – to stand with the Israelis and LGBTQ community and support you in everything you need. This is democracy and the values we share and why we are here. We are with you.”
Leader of the Opposition, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid said, “Outside, like every year, there are the wretched thugs of the far-right Lehava and the Kach movement, demonstrating against us. The only difference is that this year these people are no longer just a ridiculous bunch of dark extremists – they are part of the government.”
Lapid also declared, “Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Avi Maoz are trying to push us back into the closet. Into the dark closet of their prejudices, into the dark closet of fear and hatred.”
to be continued…on the ground in Israel, the magical Jews of Ethiopia, racism in Israel.