Photo Credit: Gili Yaari/Flash90
Thousands participated in the Annual Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, Aug. 2, 2018.

The Efrat local council on Monday disseminated a survey to town residents, titled “Survey mapping needs for all residents regarding the LGBT population in Efrat,” which has many in this largely Orthodox but open-minded community up in arms. The objections are for the most part predictable, but what’s unusual about this survey is its bluntly biased stance in favor of the gay lifestyle––not something you’d expect in the Gush Etzion area.

It’s tantamount, if you will, to surveying the people of Bnei Brak as to how much pork may be sold by local butchers. The very question imbues legitimacy over the pork trade in an Orthodox city.


Here’s a typical example from the survey. It asks: Have you heard/encountered LaHaTaBophobia in the public space in Efrat? The cumbersome term LaHaTaV is the Hebrew version of LGBT, and when you add “phobia” at the end you create the Hebrew equivalent of “Homophobia.”

The term “Homophobia” was one of the most ingenious marketing devices of the gay movement during its inception years, in the early 1970s, because it implied that one couldn’t examine the values of the homosexual lifestyle and reject them based on intellectual analysis. Rejecting homosexuality was strictly the result of fear–phobia, suggesting that one’s objection was rooted in their deep-seated repugnance with their own homosexual tendencies.

In keeping with this ingenious marketing device, the Efrat local council survey defined LaHaTaBophobia for the survey respondents as “an attitude of hatred, negative feelings towards non-straight people, such as gays, lesbians, transgender people, and bisexuals.”

At that point, it doesn’t matter if the respondent has or has not encountered the phenomenon in their hometown of Efrat, they’ve already acquiesced to the notion that the only acceptable rejection of “gays, lesbians, transgender people, and bisexuals” is hate which is most likely rooted in the respondent’s own emotional hang-ups.

The survey forced respondents to prioritize which LGBT services the municipality should offer, without the option for none-of-the-above.

But what most rankled many in the Efrat community was when the survey asked if the visibility of the LGBT community should be promoted in the public areas of Efrat, such as raising the LGBT flag during “pride week,” or even permanently.

But what most rankled many in the Efrat community was when the survey asked if the visibility of the LGBT community should be promoted in the public areas of Efrat, such as raising the LGBT flag during “pride week,” or even permanently.

Once again, the very use of the biased term “pride week” skewed the discussion to an area where respondents may be against it or for it, but the “it” in the equation is the glorified term “pride week,” rather than, say, the “promotion of anti-Torah behavior in the public arena.” I’m just saying.

Efrat resident Yishai Fleisher told “Just like the gay community wouldn’t want to be erased, the religious community of Efrat does not want to be erased either. The municipality is threatening to undermine the religious identity of Efrat, which is what attracted so many people here in the first place – the religious environment, community, and schools. This would be a fundamental breach.”

Fleisher is a seasoned spokesperson (for the Hebron Jewish community) and so he succeeded in doing the phobia thing to the opposition, calling the municipality, in essence, Torahphobes.

Another resident, Avi Abelow, told and posted on Facebook: “I don’t care what someone’s personal, private life is, that won’t change my love and respect towards them as a person, but coercing the sex/gender agenda on a community, by wanting to fly the LGBT flag across our town, is 100% wrong.”

Abelow added, “There is a huge difference between the Efrat municipality asking about understanding and supporting programs to help LGBT members of our community vs. my municipality making a statement in our name, that we the residents of Efrat support the destructive anti-family, anti-tradition, anti-religion LGBQT agenda. If an individual wants to fly this flag, that is their right, but a municipality or public institution placing this flag is totally wrong.”

And Rabbi Baruch Efrati opined in the that “those with same-sex inclinations are to be loved as are all Jews. Arrogance, however, is the source of all bad attributes, and raising the LGBT flag with pride is the public display of a bad attribute.”

The common denominator among the Efrat residents we spoke with is not homophobia as the survey attempts to imply and define it, but the attempt by the survey and municipality to legitimize and promote the LGBT agenda in their religious town’s public space.

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