Israeli LGBT politician: “Liberal Israel a myth for overseas consumption”

Nitzan HorowitzThe first out gay member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, has condemned Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Nitan Horowitz accused him of using the issue of LGBT rights to attack Iran – while doing nothing to advance equality in Israel.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (full text, registration required) Horowitz was scathing about Netanyahu: “In almost every major speech he’s given overseas in the last few years, he has used the LGTB community in Israel as a means to attack Iran. For that purpose we’re okay, showcasing Israel as a liberal paradise. I ask the prime minister what he has done to address the issue here. The truth is that for the last five years, during which he has headed the government, any advancement of the gay community toward full and equal legal rights has been frozen.”

Other members of the Knesset claimed that Netanyahu uses the word “gay” in speeches in English, but never refers to LGBT people when making speeches in Hebrew.

Israeli parliament votes down same-sex marriage

knessetA bill which would have allowed same-sex civil marriages, and blocked discrimination on grounds of religion, has been defeated in the Knesset.

LGBT website Pink News reported on 27 December 2013 that the bill was defeated by 56 to 21 votes. Zahava Gal-On, who sponsored the bill, commented that the situation was a farce – referring to the fact that earlier this week, the Knesset voted to recognise same-sex couples for tax purposes.

There is no civil marriage in Israel, only religious ceremonies. This doesn’t only affect same-sex couples. Mixed-sex couples from different faith groups have to leave Israel to get married in another country – when they return to Israel, the state recognises their marriage. There are even problems for mixed-sex Jewish couples, because marriage laws are administered by Orthodox rabbis, and many non-Orthodox Jews don’t meet their definition of Jewish. Every year, thousands of Jewish Israelis travel abroad to marry because they can’t do so in their own country (see Wikipedia).

Judith Butler writes in support of BDS

Judith ButlerJudith Butler – one of the most influential academic writers on queer theory and feminism, and herself Jewish – has written in support of BDS (boycott, disinvestment and sanctions).

Butler’s piece in the Nation (full text) comes after the recent decision of the ASA, an American academic body, to support BDS. She opposes the claim that BDS undermines academic freedom, arguing that BDS does not target Israeli individuals, whether Jewish not not. Israeli citizens remain free to take part in academic life by attending conferences and submitting their writing to journals, for example. BDS targets institutions such as universities – in particular, the campaign calls on Israeli universities to condemn Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and calla for a boycott of universities until they do.

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