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July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘gay’

Religious Zionist Rabbi Offers Homosexuals Alternative Approaches

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – While controversy has been brewing over several prominent rabbis’ comments on homosexuality and the Jerusalem gay pride parade, a well known religious-Zionist rabbi has been quietly setting up Orthodox gay men with lesbian women to be married, an idea that is considered revolutionary in the religious-Zionist world.

The Anachnu (“we” in Hebrew) organization is an NGO founded in 2011 by Rabbi Areleh Harel and is associated with Kamoha, a support organization for religious homosexuals who wish to have a conventional marriage.

As a resident of Shiloh and a teacher at the Elon Moreh Yeshiva, which is commonly associated with the ultra-Orthodox stream of religious-Zionism, Rabbi Harel does not seem a likely candidate to run a matchmaking service for homosexuals yet he began taking interest in the matter 12 years ago.

“Women were coming to me and telling me that after 10 or 15 years of marriage, they realized that their husband was gay and was seeing other men,” he said. “I understood the tremendous pain felt by many religious homosexuals and I felt that I had to do something.”

“A religious homosexual is stuck,” he continued. “I don’t have any way to solve this problem. Perhaps one tried to change and failed, but the question is what do we do now? If a gay man and a lesbian woman can marry each other without expecting love and sexuality, they can still build a traditional family.”

After six years of independently setting up religious gays and lesbians, Rabbi Harel was approached by Kamoha with an offer to formally expand his activities.

“Our NGO received many requests from gay men asking to be set up with lesbian women,” said Amit, the spokesman for Kamoha, who preferred not to disclose his full name. “Since so many people have turned to us, we decided to set up an initiative to match gays with lesbians. All of the rabbis we spoke to sent us to Rabbi Harel who had already been doing it privately and we decided to turn it into something official as part of our NGO, which became Anachnu.”

Anachnu recommends using their services only after having already seen a therapist and having accepted that a change to one’s sexual orientation would be impossible. “Those suitable for this project are those who are not in the process of trying out a new sexual orientation, but rather for those who have accepted themselves as being gay or lesbian,” states their website.

Amit claims that Anachnu is not being used exclusively by religious Jews. “The majority are religious,” he admits. “However, there have also been traditional people and even secular people who have reached out to us. All of them are closeted.”

Kamoha’s efforts are not without controversy within the religious community. Chavruta is an organization that supports religious homosexuals and is often considered a more liberal alternative to Kamoha. Daniel Jonas, a Chavruta spokesperson, offered lukewarm praise for the initiative. “We think that everyone has a right to choose their own path,” he said. “It makes no difference whether that means to live in the closet while married to a woman and pretending everything is normal or to live as you are.”

He warned against using groups like Anachnu to further hurt the LGBT community. “We reject any initiative that tells us ‘this is how you need to be’. If a person chooses to marry a woman and build a house with her, that is fine and there is a place for them. However, we in no way, shape, or form accept someone saying that this is the only solution and that this is what everyone needs to do.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Life + 31 Years to Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade Murderer

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

The Jerusalem District Court on Sunday sentenced Yishai Schlissel, who murdered teenage girl Shira Banki and attempted to murder others at the Jerusalem Gay Pride parade last August, to life in prison with an additional 31 years. The court also fined Schlissel about $530,000 as reparations to the Banki family and to the rest of Schlissel’s victims.

Judges Nava Ben-Or, Arnon Darel and Rafi Yaakovi wrote in their sentence: “We are dealing with a man who does not recognize a human before him, a cruel, dangerous and heartless man. A man for whom the Judaism of darchey noam-pleasant paths and roads of peace, which teaches that man—every man—is beloved because he was created in the Image [of God], is foreign.” Instead, the judges wrote, the defendant views himself as “He who kills and gives life, in the name of principles he appointed himself to enforce.” The judges ruled that “this dangerous man may no longer roam the streets of Jerusalem or anywhere else.”

The judges also wrote that “in his few days of freedom between arrests, the defendant extinguished the life of a young woman who was so life loving, Shira Banki z”l who was about 16 when she dies… He did not see her as a human being at all, he did not care a hoot whose body would absorb his knife.”

Schlissel’s sentence is comprised of a life sentence for the premeditated murder, 30 year for his six convictions of attempted murder counts and inflicting injury under aggravated conditions, and one additional year which is the suspended sentence for his previous sentence.

The judges were severely critical of police for failing to learn the lesson from the 2005 Gay Pride parade in which Schlissel had been arrested for attempted murder. They blamed police for failing to stop him from carrying out the same crime only a month after his release from serving ten years for the attempted murders.

The judges also criticized the legislator for failing to provide police with the legal authority to follow and supervise dangerous criminals who have served out their sentence.

JNi.Media

Meet the Activist Rabbi and his Gay Bodyguard: the Knesset’s Most Incredible Allies

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Looking at the two newest lawmakers for the Likud party, you would never guess they were close friends: Yehuda Glick is a Brooklyn-born Orthodox rabbi who built his career on pressing for Jewish prayer on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; Amir Ohana is the first openly gay parliamentarian of the center-right Likud party and founder of its LGBT Caucus.

Yet the two men share an extraordinarily unique bond that began in earnest in 2014 when Glick was gunned down by an Arab would-be assassin, an attack he miraculously survived. After being released from the hospital, the death threats continued pouring in – yet the police declined to provide protection.

That’s when Amir Ohana, a relatively unknown LGBT activist from the southern city of Be’er Sheva and a former agent with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), stepped in: he volunteered to be Glick’s personal bodyguard.

“I’m not a religious person, but I believe in freedom – and it was my honor to defend freedom,” Ohana, 40, explained in a recent interview with Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that took place, together with Glick, 51, in Ohana’s office in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. “I don’t hold religious views but I can respect our legacy and our history as a people. What I want is for everyone to be free to pray wherever they want, and the Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews.”

The Temple Mount, however, also houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock complex – the third holiest site in Islam. The shrine has been a frequent flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and tensions surrounding the site – in particular Palestinian claims that Israelis, including Glick personally, are “invading” and “defiling” the complex by visiting – are widely seen as underlying the most recent wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

Because of that tension, for the last several months all members of the Israeli parliament – Jewish and Arab alike – have been banned from visiting the holy site by order of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party. And in keeping with the “status quo” on the site: Jews may visit sections of the compound in small groups, and only during designated hours, but are evicted if they attempt to pray.

Both Glick and Ohana strongly protest this policy. Glick has been perhaps the most visible advocate of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount and, with his striking red beard, has become something of an infamous figure in the Arabic-language media and social networking platforms, where he has been caricaturized as a serpentine villain.

Glick as snake

The hatred directed at Glick eventually led to his near-assassination and, later on, brought him together with Ohana – who is now, as chance would have it, his colleague in the Knesset.

The ‘Enemy of Al-Aqsa’

On the night of October 29, 2014, Glick was leaving an event at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. At 10:04 p.m. Mutaz Hijazi, a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem, showed up on a motorbike.

“This guy stops right next to me on his motorcycle, wearing a white helmet and all black,” Glick recalled to TPS. “He says to me, in Hebrew, ‘I’m very sorry.’ I said, ‘What are you sorry about?’ I get close to him and he says to me, ‘You are an enemy of Al-Aqsa’ and he takes out a pistol and shoots four bullets into the center of my body.”

As Hijazi sped off, Glick staggered along with four bullets in his torso.

“My wife hid under the steering wheel. I saw that I was bleeding and – I have no explanation for this – I had no pain. I managed to walk maybe twenty yards, then I collapsed,” Glick said. “I heard Shai [Malka] say, ‘We just witnessed murder.’ He rips off my shirt and yells to me, ‘[Rabbi] Yehuda, don’t go! We need you!’ That was the last sentence I remember.”

Within a few hours, Israeli security agents – “Amir’s friends” in the Shin Bet, Glick says – discovered footage of Hijazi on the security camera from St. Andrew’s Scottish Church adjacent to the scene of the shooting. By 4 a.m. Israeli forces had tracked Hijazi to his family’s home in the Abu Tor neighborhood and, following a shootout on the roof, killed him.

Hijazi was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, but a local official of the mainstream Fatah party also claimed responsibility for the “heroic act.”

“I knew there were threats, but I didn’t really believe that it could happen,” Glick said of his attitude before the shooting. “I also believed we have a democratic country and people don’t kill people because they have different views.”

“Now he’s dead and I’m alive,” Glick summed up.

‘A Zealot for Human Rights’

For all the fury he attracts from extremists in the Arab world, as well as from his left wing colleagues (one of whom boycotted his swearing-in ceremony at the Knesset), Glick also faces a backlash from rightist Israelis who recoil from some of his more liberal ideas – including his acceptance of non-Orthodox Jews, his criticism of an Israeli soldier who shot an already-wounded Palestinian terrorist, and his extensive interfaith work (which, according to Glick, was sparked by hours spent in his Bedouin .

Ohana, too, finds himself in the odd position of fending off attacks from opposing sides of the aisle. As he attended the Tel Aviv Pride Parade nearly two weeks ago, despite remarks from some of his right-wing political allies who have crudely likened the to parade to a celebration of bestiality, Ohana also received threats from some in the largely liberal gay community who despise his nationalist politics – so much so that the police, in a twist of fate, decided to provide Ohana with a personal bodyguard for the march. (The interview with Glick and Ohana took place before massacre at the gay bar in Orlando this past weekend and before the terror attack at Tel Aviv’s Sarona Market last week, at which Ohana happened to be present.)

“In Israel it’s quite unique. When you talk about right and left, unlike everywhere else in the world, you primarily talk about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Ohana explains. “So there is no reason why a person can’t be right wing – and even, as I’m sometimes called, a hawkish right winger – and yet support LGBT rights, women’s rights, freedom of speech, everything that is considered liberal. We are a liberal national party.”

Remarkably, despite all their drastically different backgrounds and religious beliefs, Glick and Ohana seem to share this view. Both men seem determined to fight for issues beyond their own sectarian interests – whether it’s Ohana, the LGBT activist, protecting Glick’s struggle for the Temple Mount, or Glick, the Orthodox rabbi, irritating his base by supporting non-Orthodox women’s prayer groups at the Western Wall, for example, and even gay rights.

“I’m a zealot when it comes to human rights and respecting every single human being,” Glick boasts. “I think that every single person deserves rights. I mean it’s obvious, you know, we’re living in a democratic country.”

Does he, then, support gay marriage, an impossibility under the current Israeli arrangement in which marriage is governed by the Orthodox rabbinate?

“I support that he should have every single right he deserves,” Glick says somewhat evasively, pointing to Ohana, and referring to Ohana’s partner: “I know that he has a wonderful mate.”

Yet when asked why he wouldn’t attend the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, Glick replied: “I don’t see a problem with [going to the parade], but I wouldn’t go because other people might see me as a problem,” adding that he went to visit Shira Banki, a teenage girl stabbed by a Jewish religious extremist at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015, while she was in the hospital. Shortly afterward, Banki died of her wounds.

‘Jerusalem of Peace’

Glick was sworn in to his parliament post in late May, following the resignation of former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. As our interview ended, he decided to inaugurate his new office by placing the ritual mezuzah on the doorpost – a small box holding verses of the Torah which is thought to protect one’s home.

Ohana tags along to Glick’s new office, borrowing a kippa from an aide, and the two hang the mezuzah together.

“I protected you once, so I may as well finish the job,” Ohana quips.

Glick then declares that his office has a name.

“This isn’t Yehuda Glick’s office,” he says. “It’s called ‘Jerusalem of Peace.’”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Gay Activists Threaten Gay MK’s Life Ahead of Parade

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

MK Amir Ohana (Likud), the first openly gay rightwing legislator, was assigned a security detail after he had received threats of being attacked during the Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade Friday. Ohana received the information from senior members of the Knesset Guard.

A source in Ohana’s circle told Ynet that just as he has never capitulated to terrorism and threats in the past, he will not cower this time either. The source said: “The knight of the LGBT agenda, who pride themselves on their tolerance, openness and pluralism, should ask themselves how they’ve reached such a situation facing almost the only coalition MK who’s been acting on behalf of the community for so many years, even if he is rightwing.”

Back in February, MK Ohana raised the ire of many in the LGBT community, when he chose to stay out of the Knesset plenum when the coalition voted down pro-gay legislation. The bills that were killed, and that as coalition member Ohana was not permitted to support, included banning the sending of LGBT children to conversion treatment, recognizing single sex families, and same-sex spousal contracts. One Facebook user, Alon-Lee Green, wrote at the time that despite the coalition requirement, MK Ohana should be ashamed of himself for helping to kill a bill he himself had praised. The post received hundreds of shares.

David Israel

Israel Gay Pride Police Arrest Nursery School Teacher to Protect Parade

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

After their abysmal failure to stop ultra-Orthodox murderer Yishai Schlissel, who in 2015 stabbed to death an Israeli teenage girl at the Jerusalem gay pride parade, police have gone several shades of crazy on the eve of the Tel Aviv Friday parade. According to the legal aid society Honenu, police have been raiding the homes of rightwing activists, warning them against attending and protesting the parade.

According to attorney Itamar Ben Gvir, despite the fact that an Israeli court refused to sign restraining orders without the shred of a proof against individuals, police nevertheless showed up in their homes and demanded that they sign an agreement to stay away from the parade.

“The police have forgotten that the right of free speech also includes the right to protest the gay pride parade,” Ben Gvir said, noting that “although the activist who was made to sign had no intention of going there, and certainly had not planned to, the very notion of knocking on people’s doors and asking them to sign such a prohibition is contrary to the laws of the State of Israel.”

At 2 AM Friday, police officers and detectives raided the home of a family in Samaria and detained for interrogation the mother, a nursery school teacher and mother of four. The forces came equipped with a search order signed by Tel Aviv Magistrate Court Judge Shlomit Ben-Itzhak, woke up the family and confiscated the woman’s smartphone and computer. Then they took the woman for an interrogation without any court order, with her husband and baby tagging along.

In her interrogation, the woman shared that she had no idea there was going to be a gay pride parade, and that she has no connection to any related activity.

It is obvious that police are terrified of a repeat of the Jerusalem parade murder, where they allowed near the parade a known violent attacker of gays, who had just been released from a long prison term for attacking marchers in the 2005 Jerusalem gay pride parade. It’s bewildering to think what the police might do in preparation for the Jerusalem gay pride parade in two months. Rightwing activists are encouraged to give interviews and publish blog entries in favor of acceptance, embracing the other, and respecting people’s right to experiment with their sexuality — or face jail.

David Israel

Stabber of Gay Woman in Jerusalem Pride Parade Convicted of Murder

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

by Michael Bachner

Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox Jew from Modi’in Illit, was convicted on Tuesday of the murder of 16-year-old Shira Banki in a stabbing rampage during Jerusalem’s gay pride parade last year. Schlissel stabbed several marchers in the July parade, which he deemed “blasphemous,” killing Banki and wounding six others. He was also convicted of six counts of attempted murder.

Judge Nava Ben Or ruled that “it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused killed Shira premeditatively.”

This is the second time Schlissel is convicted of stabbing Jerusalem gay pride parade marchers. He was convicted in 2005 for stabbing and wounding several marchers in that year’s parade, and received ten years in prison. He was released just three weeks before attacking the parade yet again and murdered Banki.

The court blasted the Israeli police for allowing Schlissel to enter the parade with “intolerable ease,” despite his history and clear willingness to attack parade-goers. “The writing was on the wall,” the court said.

Schlissel repeatedly claimed in the past that the “blasphemous” parade desecrated Jerusalem’s sanctity and needed to be stopped at any cost. Schlissel refused to be represented by a lawyer throughout the trial, arguing that the court had no authority to judge him since it was not a religious court.

“He was very quiet while running between marchers and stabbing them, not hollering like you would imagine,” testified Eran Tzidkiyahu during the trial. He said he saw the knife being being pulled out of Banki’s back after the stabbing.

“The defendant was previously convicted of similar offenses for which he served a prison term,” commented the state prosecution after the ruling. “Nevertheless, he was not rehabilitated and has never expressed regret or sadness for his actions. He became even more radical and repeated his severe crimes.”

“This will not be the first time he goes to prison, which is a sign that prison doesn’t work,” commented Noam Eyal, who was wounded by Schlissel during the 2015 parade, after the conviction. “He is dangerous to the public and should not ever see the light of day.”

Another victim, Sheli Bar Lev, said she felt “relieved that he will not be coming to any parade ever again.”

The Tazpit News Agency

Newest MK: When Soldiers Are Defamed, I Am a Soldier, When a Girl Is Murdered at the Gay Pride Parade, I’m a Gay Man

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

(JNi.media) Likud MK Amir Ohana was sworn into the Knesset on Monday following the resignation of former Interior Minister Silvan Shalom. In his inaugural speech before the Knesset Plenum, Ohana said “I am here with all of who and what I am, what I’ve chosen and what I haven’t, and am proud of being Jewish, Israeli, Mizrahi (origins in an Arab country), gay, Likudnik, hawk, liberal and free-market man.”

“When people shout ‘Itbach al Yahud’ [Arabic for kill the Jews], I am a Jew. When they shoot, boycott, label and expel, I am a settler… When soldiers are defamed, I am a soldier.” MK Ohana said.

His line about the defamation of IDF soldiers was a reference to the recent controversy over the “Breaking the Silence NGO,” which turns alleged abuses by IDF soldiers into anti-Israel propaganda paid for by foreign interests.

Ohana also sided with the residents of south Tel Aviv, who have long complained about the influx of African migrants from Sudan and Eritrea. “When entire neighborhoods are not as they were, and the elderly are forced to live out the remainder of their lives in fear — I am a south Tel Aviv resident. And when the outside appearance of a man is considered a good reason to hate him, to distance him from neighborhoods and employment — I am an ultra-Orthodox Jew who is not afraid,” he said.

“When a baby is burned with his relatives, damn it, I’m with you, brothers,” Ohana said, finishing his sentence in Arabic. Ohana was referring to the fatal firebombing in the village of Duma, in which three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family perished.

“When they stab to death a young woman in the parade of love and tolerance I’m gay, a gay person who does not just hope the day will come but gets up and brings it. A gay person who understands that the flag we carry, lesbians and gay men, trans and bi, is the rainbow flag.” The latter comment was a reference to the murder of Shira Banki in the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade last summer.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the ceremony and gave his blessing from the Knesset podium. “I want to make a clear point that may not be clear. Amir is the first clear, candid representative of the gay community who was elected in an open primary when he was completely out [of the closet]. He was elected by thousands of voters in the Likud primary,” Netanyahu said. He voiced his confidence that “Amir represents very well our view of liberal nationalism. He believes in the rights of the Jewish people to their land, in protecting the country’s security, civil rights, capitalist economics and a free market.”

Netanyahu added: “I’ve had the chance to work with him. He is pleasant but firm in his opinions, steadfast in his principles, and I think he will be an excellent Knesset member and a bridge between different parts of the public. I receive him with respect and pride.”

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Camp) said he hoped MK Ohana and the rest of the coalition members would support the opposition’s attempts to improve the standing of Israel’s gay community through legislation.

JNi.Media

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