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August 18, 2015 0

Reactions to the Jerusalem Gay Parade Stabbing

Almost three weeks after the stab­bing attack dur­ing Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade, which left six­teen year old Shira Banki dead, Israeli soci­ety is engaged in a con­tin­u­ing soul search­ing over the attack and the sta­tus of Israel’s LGBT community.

Israel has a vibrant LGBT com­mu­nity and it cel­e­brates in its strong record of free­doms and pro­tec­tions.  Nonethe­less, there are clear homo­pho­bic ele­ments in Israeli society.

Yishai Schlis­sel, the parade stab­ber – who had pre­vi­ously attacked a pride parade in 2005 – is a mem­ber of the ultra-orthodox com­mu­nity in Bnei Brak.  While acknowl­edg­ing that there is homo­pho­bia among reli­gious Jews in Israel, atti­tudes toward the LGBT com­mu­nity are not monolithic.

Credit: Ludovic Bertron

Credit: Ludovic Bertron

Accord­ing to a Haaretz report, a group of ultra-orthodox Jews from Bnei Brak reached out to the LGBT com­mu­nity and met with their rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the Gay Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in Tel Aviv.  Although the Ultra-Orthodox par­tic­i­pants decided to stay anony­mous, the impor­tance of the dia­logue and the dis­cus­sion lay in the fact that it took place and was reported in the press. Such an unmedi­ated encounter enables know­ing each other on the basis of open­ness and an attempt to accept the other – a pos­i­tive sign after the dark events.

On the other side of the spec­trum came the much pub­li­cized com­ments of Beza­lel Smotrich, an ultra-nationalist and a mem­ber of Knes­set from the Jew­ish Home Party, who serves as Deputy Knes­set Speaker.  Over the years Smotrich has made numer­ous anti-gay state­ments, and has described him­self as a “proud homo­phobe.”  Days after the attack, he referred to gay pride events as “abom­i­na­tion parade” (a term he has used before).  In an inter­view he gave a few days ago on Galei Israel radio, Smotrich said: “There are a lot of gays in the media and they decide for us what to think and what to say.” Smotrich said that their “con­trol” of the media has cre­ated legit­i­macy and pub­lic sup­port for them. I am con­fi­dent that 95% of Israelis want their chil­dren to raise a model fam­ily and have grand­chil­dren. That’s what a healthy, nor­mal per­son wants… These peo­ple have enor­mous power in shap­ing our con­scious­ness. They num­ber dozens of dom­i­nant peo­ple. So nat­u­rally, peo­ple can’t hear a voice like mine and when I speak to the media, I’m cut off after half a sen­tence and I sound deluded because I’m unable to explain myself.”

Jew­ish Home head and Edu­ca­tion Min­is­ter, Naf­tali Ben­net, responded, “I reject these state­ments with dis­gust…” and many oth­ers rose to con­demn Smotrich.  Mean­while, Ometz, an orga­ni­za­tion whose mis­sion is to pro­mote eth­i­cal gov­er­nance, is ask­ing the Knes­set Ethics com­mit­tee to review Smotrich’s comments.


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February 7, 2014 0

Iranian TV Broadcasts Simulated Attacks On Israel And U.S.

A day after the U.S. gov­ern­ment announced a tem­po­rary sanc­tions waiver on the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran Broad­cast­ing (IRIB), Iran’s broad­cast­ing author­ity, IRIB’s chan­nel 1 broad­cast highly inflam­ma­tory and bel­liger­ent video seg­ments sim­u­lat­ing an Iran­ian attack against Israel and U.S. warships.

The seg­ments aired live on Feb­ru­ary 7, 2014, before the weekly Fri­day prayers were broadcast.

One of the seg­ments (watch below) shows Iran­ian drones tar­get­ing and destroy­ing civil­ian and mil­i­tary sites in Israel. The clip also includes an audio mes­sage from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s 2013 Per­sian New Year address where he threat­ened that if Israel were to “make the mis­take of attack­ing Iran, the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”

In the sec­ond seg­ment (watch below), U.S. war­ships are shown invad­ing Iran’s ter­ri­to­r­ial waters. After issu­ing warn­ings, the Iran­ian air force dis­patches bombers to destroy the U.S. war­ships patrolling the Per­sian Gulf. The sim­u­la­tion also depicts Iran’s abil­ity to strike U.S. inter­ests in the Mid­dle East with its mis­sile system.

The air­ing of the seg­ments comes at a time as the Iran­ian regime read­ies to cel­e­brate the 35th anniver­sary of the 1979 Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion against the West­ern backed monarchy.

The waiver on IRIB is slated to last for 180 day and will per­mit non-U.S. satel­lite com­pa­nies to resume IRIB broad­casts. The waiver is appar­ently part of a good­will and confidence-building ges­ture toward Iran as nuclear nego­tia­tors pre­pared to meet for another round of nego­ti­a­tions. Based on this IRIB broad­cast, the waiver may wind up under­min­ing con­fi­dence in Israel, the U.S. and through­out the world.

Iran’s English-language pro­pa­ganda sta­tion Press TV, which pro­vides a plat­form for Amer­i­can anti-Semites, con­spir­acy the­o­rists and Holo­caust deniers, is also included in the exemption.

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