The current Israeli government – a track record of homophobia

The Israeli election in March led to the formation of a coalition government, which is the norm in Israeli politics. Binyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party now governs with others even further right, including Jewish Home (in Hebrew, Habayit Hayehudi) and Shas. It was a Shas member, mayor of Beit Shemesh, who announced two years ago that there were no LGBT people in his city. A recent article in the Israeli press sums up the record of Jewish Home and Shas on LGBT issues (see Haaretz, registration required). None of these people seem to have heard of the tolerant, LGBT-friendly Israel fans of pinkwashing tell us about.

  • Israeli lawmaker organised an anti-gay parade called the “March of the Beasts”
    With barely five months under his belt in the Knesset, Betzalel Smotrich, a member of Habayit Hayehudi, holds the dubious distinction of being the most openly homophobic lawmaker in Israel. Long before launching his parliamentary career, Smotrich famously organized an anti-gay parade known as the “March of the Beasts.” He has since voiced regrets, but, at a debate before the last election, Smotrich still referred to members of the LGBT community as “abnormal.” “Every person has the right to be abnormal at home,” he said, “but he can’t ask of me as a state to see the idea as normal.” A day after the stabbings at last week’s Pride parade in Jerusalem, Smotrich had no qualms about referring to the event as the “abomination march.” In a Facebook post, he wrote: “So here I say it again fearlessly: I object vehemently to violence, and promise to object no less vehemently to the recognition of same-sex couples in the Jewish state. I promise to fight violence, and no less than that, I will fight any attempt to besmirch traditional Jewish family values.”
  • “Don’t let homosexuals join the army”
    Three years ago, MK Uri Ariel, who represents Habayit Hayehudi and now serves as agriculture minister, urged the Israel Defense Forces not to recruit homosexuals. “If I were the decision maker, I wouldn’t enlist homosexuals into the IDF, because some things interfere with the military’s ability to fight,” he told the Knesset Channel. “We must conduct ourselves in accordance with Jewish law. The Torah forbids homosexuality and demands that those who behave in such a manner be punished,” he added.
  • Stop earthquakes by preventing sodomy
    Shlomo Benizri, a former government minister and member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, once drew a link between earthquakes and homosexuality. During a Knesset debate on earthquake preparedness back in 2008, he said: “I suggest that the Knesset inquire into how it can prevent sodomy and thus save us a lot of earthquakes.”