Want to travel to Israel – at least virtually? Curious to know what Israeli LGBTQ activists and NGOs are doing to fight further anti-democratic legislation? Wondering how they are working to minimize damage from a recently enacted law that weakens Israel’s judiciary?
Our Virtual Conference will take a deep, balanced, sophisticated look at the current state of the Israeli LGBTQ community and enable participants to connect with LGBTQ leaders in Israel.
September 12-14, 12:00-2:30 pm ET
Join our Virtual Conference this September
Interested? Let us know and we will send you more information about the virtual conference.
The virtual conference will include sessions on topics like:
The government’s judicial overhaul efforts, with a debrief by LGBTQ activists who are on the front lines of protests
Acceptance of LGBTQ people in religious Jewish and Muslim communities
Advancing trans rights and trans inclusion
A look at how American political transphobia is being exported to Israel
There is no cost to attend this conference thanks to the generosity of our donors. After the virtual conference, you will receive a conference kit with fun swag as a token of our appreciation for your time at our conference.
Space is limited.
Join our Virtual Conference this September
Interested? Let us know and we will send you more information about the virtual conference.
Rabbi Zvi Israel Tau, the spiritual leader of Noam party, called this morning for a war against the LGBTQ community. In a new book that compiles lessons he gave his students at the Har Hamor yeshiva, Rabbi Tau claims that homosexuality is a crime against humanity that threatens to destroy Judaism and the State of Israel.
The Aguda has filed a complaint against Rabbi Tau and wrote: “We will not allow them “Lehatir Et Damenu” (permissible killing). The masks have been removed, this is the vision of the extreme parties in the Knesset, written in black and white: to wipe us out. This is the spiritual father of Avi Maoz, who serves in the Israeli government as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, with budgets of hundreds of millions of shekels.”
We stand with the Israeli LGBTQ community and their fight against LGBTQphobia.
What about you?
“Israel is portrayed in certain circles of BDS and anti-Zionist movements as a very racist country. I think the contrary is being proved right now. There are so many voices right now that are speaking for a Jewish, democratic, liberal country. The demonstrations strengthen the Zionist movement.”
Thank you to all those who joined us for our emergency briefing with Hila Peer, Chairperson of The Aguda, The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel. If you could not attend, we have made a recording of the webinar available for you to watch. We strongly recommend that you view the recording to understand the current situation and discover ways to show your support for the Israeli LGBTQ community.
Today is a somber day.
The Israeli government has passed a “reasonableness” law that diminishes the authority of the Supreme Court. This is a dire step in an agenda that many fear will shift the delicate balance of Israeli democracy toward autocracy.
The Israeli LGBTQ community has been protesting these proposals for months because it is the Supreme Court that has helped to safeguard the civil rights of all Israelis, including the LGBTQ community.
The story doesn’t end here. The fate of a democracy is not decided in a single day or with a single vote. We love Israel and care deeply about its future. Our commitment is permanent. Please stand with us as we stand with the Israeli LGBTQ community.
Especially now, the Israeli LGBTQ community needs your support. They are struggling to afford the cost of participating in the pro-democracy movement, as well as increases in calls to crisis hotlines and support services. Please contribute to our Emergency Grant campaign today.
We also recognize that this is a global struggle. Democracy is fragile and must be protected everywhere.
Let’s start the new year off right by celebrating with our incredible, intersectional LGBTQ Jewish community.
Join us for a cooking demonstration highlighting Mizrahi cooking with Chef Ayelet Latovitch, just in time for Rosh HaShanah.
Moderator: Matthew Nouriel
A Special Statement by Andy Austin, AWB Board Chair:
Last week, we learned that despite nationwide and international protests, the Netanyahu government in Israel is moving forward with legislation that would reduce the authority of the Supreme Court to serve as a check on unreasonable government actions.
I am shocked, but not surprised.
Just a few weeks ago, I was in Israel with 30 outstanding LGBTQ activists. We marched with, supported, and learned from our Israeli LGBTQ partners – the Proud community, as they are known. They told us of their concerns about the powerful leaders who have made it their mission to denigrate and dehumanize the entire LGBTQ community. We heard about the hate-filled rhetoric and violence they are experiencing – and we witnessed it with our own ears and eyes.
A Wider Bridge vehemently rejects the extremists who are fighting against Israel’s LGBTQ community and democracy at the same time. The strength of any democracy lies in the confidence its citizens have in government institutions. Eroding judicial review undermines that confidence and the very security of the Jewish state.
Of course, we don’t have to travel around the world to see LGBTQphobia. It’s a global phenomenon. Indeed, much of what we see is exported from the U.S. and translated into Hebrew and other languages.
And the global increase in hate isn’t limited to the LGBTQ community. I live in New York City. We have seen an alarming increase in antisemitic rhetoric in this city, as in many places across America. I know that hateful words are often followed by hateful acts. In fact, part of what makes the news from Israel so painful is that it makes it even harder to fight those whose antisemitism is manifest in the demonization of Israel.
We are all in this together. There is no parliamentary vote – in Israel or anywhere – that can erase our lives. We love Israel as much today as we ever have, and we know our destinies are intertwined. We have never taken the position that what happens in Israel is entirely an internal affair. We have always had a core commitment to building equality in Israel. We always will. We commit to support our Israeli partners no matter which direction the pendulum swings. We stand in solidarity.
Join us for an open conversation about the lives and struggles of Arab and Palestinian LGBTQ folks. We will be joined by Rita Petrenko, Director of Albeit Almuhtalef (The Different House), an NGO dedicated to empowering and assisting Arab LGBTQ people in Israel, and Ala Ibrahim, a gay Druze activist currently living in Tel Aviv.
After Registration, you will receive a link to the film “The Invisible Men,” a documentary about three Palestinian men who are part of the Palestinian “underground” hiding in Tel Aviv, having entered Israel illegally to escape persecution and possible death because of their sexual identity.
Thursday, July 20th, 2:00 pm ET
In 2023, millions are engaging in protests all around the world. People are making their voices heard in France, Mexico, Bangladesh, Hungary, and Greece – just to name a few.
The specific events triggering civic action vary by location. But whether it’s pension reforms, election concerns, human rights, or rank government incompetence, it’s undeniable that the world is shaking. Among the common threads are an existential threat to democratic institutions.
At A Wider Bridge, we are closely connected to the manifestation of this international phenomenon in Israel.
Israelis from across the political spectrum are taking a stand for their democracy in an unprecedented manner. They have taken to the streets in historic numbers day after day, week after week, in patriotic displays of defiance. LGBTQ Israelis are on the front lines in a battle over legislation that most of them feel would dramatically undermine the independence of Israel’s judiciary. The stakes are high. The Israeli Supreme Court has been a bastion for advancing LGBTQ equality. But there is more than the court in play. A new generation of extremist politicians have gained true power – and the bully pulpit. The reverberations are being felt far and wide – and the threat they pose is no longer theoretical.
The 2022 report on LGBTQphobia in Israel
The Aguda, the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel, just released its 2022 report on LGBTQphobia in Israel. The findings show that anti-LGBTQ hate has skyrocketed. It rose during an election cycle in which some extremist politicians railed against LGBTQ rights, and it skyrocketed after the early November election. It has affected almost every aspect of LGBTQ life in the country.
In total, there were 3,309 reports of LGBTQ abuse last year – an enormous increase, and double what was reported as recently as five years ago. Delving deeper into the data, the news gets even scarier: an eightfold increase in year-on-year discrimination reports involving services by businesses, a fivefold increase in LGBTQ abuse reports in the public sphere, a 53% increase in reports from trans individuals, and a sevenfold increase in LGBTQ abuse reports where the offending parties are public figures and in the media.
On top of that, fully 25% of these reports came in November and December – during the election campaign and immediately following the commencement of the new government.
Some have urged patience with Israel’s new government and advocate a wait-and-see approach. They say nothing bad has happened yet. Sadly, they are wrong.
While these extremist politicians, now leading important government ministries, have yet to deliver fully on pledges to remove LGBTQ education from schools, groups working in that sector say it has become increasingly difficult to do programs they routinely offered in the past. They have yet to ban Pride parades, end hormone treatments and gender-affirming care for trans people, or provide financial support for organizations that provide conversion therapy. But all of these anti-LGBTQ policies are on the table. Unfortunately for LGBTQ Israelis, there is no safety in adopting a wait-and-see approach.
Recently, a group of right-wing youth harassed protesters carrying Pride flags in Tel Aviv. They threw rocks at a building at which a Pride flag was displayed. They even climbed a balcony to tear it down. They were caught in the act on video and later identified. But for weeks, no arrests have been made. In response, thousands of pro-LGBTQ Israelis protested in front of the police headquarters in Tel Aviv – a city justifiably celebrated for its LGBTQ-friendly environment and with one of the highest percentages of LGBTQ residents in the world. They were protesting police inaction, fully cognizant that the municipal police are controlled by the Israeli Ministry of National Security under Itamar Ben-Gvir, an open homophobe who ran for office on a far-right slate with a radical anti-LGBTQ platform.
Was the lack of police action a result of top-down pressure? We don’t know. But we do know that the physical security of LGBTQ people is often dependent on the institutions that govern us.
We also know that we can never take our rights and our safety for granted. That’s true whether one is LGBTQ in Tel Aviv, Black in Missouri, or Jewish on the streets of New York City, where antisemitic violence is on the rise.
The legislation Israelis are protesting is but one symptom of a global phenomena to wrest power from institutions that have advanced the equality of marginalized groups – LGBTQ people, women, racial minorities, immigrants, and others. It is not difficult to connect the dots from Jerusalem to Florida to certain eastern European countries, where democratic norms are under attack in general, as are the rights of LGBTQ people in particular.
What can we do?
So what do we do in the face of these challenges? First, we recognize the challenges as real, acute, and demanding immediate action.
Then we organize. We protest. We don’t allow ourselves to be gaslighted by those who say all is well, when clearly it is not. All one has to do to appreciate the threats to LGBTQ people in Israel is to speak with a few LGBTQ Israelis.
Accordingly, A Wider Bridge has dramatically increased our support of LGBTQ groups through additional public advocacy and an emergency campaign to fund their pro-democracy work and meet needs for increased social services. Next month, we will travel to Israel to stand with our LGBTQ family. We will march with them at the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance and host an English livestream to the world.
We continue to be inspired by Israel’s democracy movement, where the LGBTQ flag has become as common a sight in the streets as the Israeli flag itself. We will stand with them today – and every day –- to protect Israel’s democratic and pluralistic character in the face of this emergency.
Want to learn more about the Jewish Inclusive Pride flag?
First, the history:
For years, we have used a traditional six color rainbow pride flag with a white Star of David in the center – and we have fought back those who rejected this symbol of our pride. In recent years, a new pride flag has gained prominence – with additional colors representing marginalized groups – including people of color, trans individuals, and those living with HIV or who have lost their lives due to HIV.
The beautiful new flag puts those missing colors inside the Jewish star. The new AWB flag not only embraces this inclusive spirit – it projects inclusion as a core Jewish value. We believe that when one part of the community is excluded, we are all left weaker and less vibrant. The flag represents all the identities in our community and symbolically states that one cannot remove the Jewish star and still be inclusive.
For A Wider Bridge, our connection to Israel is an integral part of our Jewish identity and our LGBTQ identity. We wave this flag and say We Refuse to Choose between any of the inseparable parts of our identities – and we will not be excluded from either the LGBTQ or Jewish communities.
We invite you to wave this flag proudly, at pride festivals or at your home,
synagogue, or community building – and we hope you will take your picture with the flag and post it on social media or send it to us.
Questions for families or community group discussion
- What does each color represent to you?
- Write down 3 wishes for the Israeli LGBTQ community
- What is inclusion and why is it important in our community?
- Where would you like to see the flag?
Get Creative! Create and Color your own Jewish Inclusive Pride Flag
Download the coloring page, and make it your own! If you want, you can post it online and tag @awiderbridge