The Israeli National LGBT Task Force union is holding a rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night on the background of last Thursday's stabbing attack by a haredi man at the controversial gay pride parade in Jerusalem – but it has disinvited Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett and Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal.
The pro-homosexual union contacted Magal's office in a request not to arrive, with one activist of the group telling Channel 10: "does it seem reasonable to you that the homophobic party will go up on stage?"
Bennett said that while on his way to the even he received a message asking him not to come, noting that earlier, "when the organizers of the rally invited me to speak I happily accepted. I am the education minister of all children of Israel."
Jewish Home has traditionally opposed homosexuality given that Jewish law strictly forbids it. In a January video ahead of elections, leading party members were shown stating their opposition to same-sex marriage – opposition which Reform and leftist critics labeled "primitive."
However, Jewish Home chairperson Naftali Bennett made a move apparently distancing from that stance on Thursday, when in response to the stabbing he ordered a significant increase in the budget of the Israeli Gay Youth (IGY) organization.
It would appear that the surprising move did not change how the Israeli National LGBT Task Force views his party.
The Task Force issued a statement saying "we are attentive to the voices rising from different directions about the speakers at the event this evening. We are holding a deep talk trying to take into account all of the perspectives, reflect the complex communal discussion and the positions of our friends from the community, with all its nuances."
"The list is comprised of the heads of organizations that function around the year to advance the proud (i.e. homosexual – ed.) community…and elected representatives of the public who have power to change the political reality in Israel," the union added. "They arrive to express their positions and protestations, and our role is to express our position against their words."
The event in Tel Aviv is being attended by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former President Shimon Peres, ministers Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and Avi Gabay (Kulanu), MKs Tzipi Livni, Dov Khenin, Yitzhak Herzog, Zehava Galon and more.
Jewish Home's position on homosexuality under Bennett was defined by the minister, who said in January in response to the uproar following his party's video that "formal Judaism does not recognize same-sex marriage, just as you cannot pass a law that eating meat with milk is kosher. What did we do in the last Knesset? We were pragmatic. We said – no to formal recognition, yes to rights.”
The comment refers to a law giving same-sex couples equal tax breaks which Bennett voted for even as his fellow party members abstained, thus allowing it to pass. The vote followed a compromise in which same-sex couples were granted equal benefits without being officially recognition in the legislation, thus sparing Jewish Home from being perceived as officially condoning same-sex marriage.
Magal was himself involved in another incident raising questions on Jewish Home's stance regarding key religious Zionist issues, when he said last Friday at a Tel Aviv University conference that he was willing "to give up on land in exchange for peace," adding "it's a bummer to be an occupier."
Arutz Sheva contacted a spokesperson for the Jewish Home for comment on the statement last Wednesday but has yet to receive a response.