A Message on Hate from Daniel Hernandez

Please read the following message from Daniel Hernandez, Vice Chair at A Wider Bridge:
Last month, I was honored to visit with Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff — and I posed with him with the amazing Jewish Inclusive Pride Flag — the same flag I carried at Jerusalem Pride.
Then a far-right extremist on X, formerly known as Twitter, shared the photo.
What followed was a torrent of antisemitic and homophobic abuse, with thousands of shares and comments.
As of this moment, the post has been viewed over 1,900,000 times. Already over 14,000 people have clicked the heart button to “like” the post.
Here are just a few of the replies, many of which are so vile that I can’t share them here.


I need you to help me fight back.
The truth is that this isn’t an attack on me — it’s an attack on all of us. I want you to join me and take a stand against hate — will you help us raise funds for our fight against antisemitism and LGBTQphobia?
Your donation will help us expand the reach of the Jewish Inclusive Pride flag to more locations.
Your donation will support our community events and aid those in need, both online and offline.
Your donation will support our efforts in exposing the interconnectedness between antisemitism and LGBTQphobia.
A Wider Bridge stands against hate and stands against antisemitism, and LGBTQphobia in all its forms. They have my back. And they have your back, too.
Antisemitism and LGBTQphobia go hand in hand. The disturbing photos from this past weekend’s neo-Nazi rally in Florida are revolting yet sadly unsurprising. Hate persists.
Slanders of Jews and LGBTQ folks as predatory are age-old. They normalize the discrimination and violence that inevitably follows.
We stand firmly in solidarity with the Jewish and LGBTQ communities in Florida. To our allies, please bear in mind that many individuals belong to both of these communities, enduring a double burden of discrimination and hate. When hateful voices gain momentum, it is incumbent upon all of us to speak out; silence is not an option.
To read more about the event, click here
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.”
Hila Peer

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.

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.

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.


Yair Cherki, a religious affairs reporter for Israel’s N12, came out as gay via posts on his various social media accounts. Cherki comes from a religious background, and his father is a well-known religious leader, Rabbi Uri Cherki. We encourage you to take a moment to read the important and moving words of Cherki:


“I write these words shaking, postponing for tomorrow. For next week, for after the holidays. Maybe it’s been ten years since I’ve been writing and erasing. But now I am thirty years old. And I write not because I have the strength to write but because I have no power to stay silent.

I love men. I Love men and love god. It is not contradictory, and it is nothing new. I am the same person I was; the only difference is that it is not only me who knows now, you know, too. It was important for me to say this publically, even though it is a private matter. To live neither in the shadows nor in hiding. To truly live.

I live the conflict between my sexual preference and my faith all the time. Some have solved the conflict for themselves by saying that there is no god, while others explain that there is no homosexuality. I know both exist. And I try to reconcile this contradiction within myself in various ways. These are things between god and me.

This is neither a fashion nor a trend nor a political statement. It is simply me. It’s another part of who I am and who I have been since the day I made up my mind. My community is still the religious community. This is my tribe, and this is my family and friends. These are my beliefs. They did not change but took shape over the years alongside the doubt and complexity.

I know that this truth I shared here saddens people dear to me whom I love very much. I hope you find a place in your soul that allows you to discuss this properly and understand that this step was made after deep thought and consideration. Your sorrow, perhaps, also stems from a lack of understanding of what I am actually talking about here. I tried to ignore it for years. Then push. And repress. And treat. I do not regret any attempt and effort; maybe without these attempts, I would not have been able to reach my conclusions—it is just a shame that it took so long.

And now: family.”

As a response to Cherki’s statement, Havruta congratulated Cherki and said:

“It is moving to read Yair’s coming out of the closet post. The connection between religious and LGBT identities, which Yair describes, is at the core of what we do. The life of religious LGBT people is not easy, and we congratulate Yair for his courage and honesty, and happy that he took another step to show that we are here. Religious LGBT people – come out of the closet. Be who you are. No one can tell you otherwise.”


Thank you, Yair, for your beautiful words. And thank you, Havruta, Bat- Kol and Shoval for the life-saving work you do by increasing LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion in the religious communities in Israel.

The political discourse in Israel regarding LGBTQ rights and equality in the last couple of decades was heavily influenced by two major hate crime events: the shooting in the ‘Bar Noar’, a queer youth club in Tel Aviv, and the murder of Shira Banki, a 16 years old girl in the Jerusalem pride march.

Bar Noar Shooting

On August 1st, 2009, a masked shooter stormed into the “Bar Noar”, a queer youth club located at the LGBTQ* center in Tel Aviv. It was a Saturday night evening, and the club was filled with teenagers and young people socializing in a club that was considered a safe space – for some of them, it was the only place that allowed them to be “who they are”, without hiding their sexual or gender identity. The shooter killed Nir Katz, a 26 years old who served as a volunteer in the club, and Liz Tarobishi, a 17 years old girl who attended it, and wounded eleven others, before escaping the scene. Until this day, the police did not manage to apprehend the shooter. 

The traumatic event fueled a massive protest on behalf of the Israeli queer community, as it allowed it to stress out the LGBTQphobia and daily feeling of insecurity that all community members face. News coverage of the crime scene equivocally “outed” many of the club’s attendees – some of them minors – whose families and friends have learned for the first time that their children identify as LGBTQ* on national TV. Some of the victims who were injured had to deal with expressions of LGBTQphobia on behalf of their parents, who refused to visit them near their hospital bed to avoid the association with the LGBTQ* community. These responses reflected the deep LGBTQphobia that queer youth deal with to the broad national discourse.

Shira Banki

Shira Banki, a 16 years old high school student from Jerusalem, was stabbed to death by Yishay Shlisel, an extremist ultraorthodox who raged a terror attack at the Jerusalem Pride March of 2015. Shlisel was known to the police due to another stabbing attack he committed ten years earlier, at the Pride March of 2005. After spending ten years in prison, Shlisel was released – and committed another stabbing soon thereafter. 


The Jerusalem Pride March is not a typical march, as it is set in the highly sensitive public sphere of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, it is a holy city that bears special significance to both Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and its population consists of various population groups from different religious, ethnic and socioeconomic characteristics. For all of these reasons, the march in Jerusalem is symbolic and political. The call for rights and LGBTQ* equality, while coming from the streets of Jerusalem, receives a special political, social and even spiritual depth. The murder of Shira Banki, a 16 year old, by a religious extremist, was not only a shocking event for the Israeli public, but also highlighted the urgency of the demand for tolerance and inclusion in Jerusalem and in Israel as a whole.

Brianna Titone, LGBTQ, Israel

Written by Rep, Brianna Titone.

Published first at The Colorado Sun


Shouting down the haters won’t turn it back. Changing the culture requires living out love as our authentic selves

Marginalized communities are under attack. Here in Colorado, we know that all too well. The mass shooting at Club Q which killed 5 people and injured 25 is yet another violent attack on the LGBTQ community. There is hate all around us.

Our Jewish friends and neighbors are feeling particularly vulnerable. If you haven’t noticed the frightening mainstreaming of antisemitism, you’re not paying attention. It’s coming from everywhere.

It’s in our politics. The former president dines with white supremacists and holocaust deniers.

It’s in our streets. Jews are physically attacked, verbally assaulted, and in New Jersey the FBI warned them that they may not be safe going to worship in their synagogues.

And perhaps most alarmingly, we are in serious danger of allowing antisemitism to become mainstreamed in our culture.

Take conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ recent interview with cultural icon Kanye West and white supremacist Nick Fuentes.

The interview was a sensation. More than 3 million people viewed the video on Mr. Jones’ alternative platforms. Though every major news organization and social media platform refused to allow the content to be seen, they couldn’t keep up with the virality of the moment. Millions of more Americans saw the content on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube in waves before it was taken down.

Millions of Americans heard loud and clear what haters have been saying more and more recently. They heard that Hitler did great things, that the Holocaust never happened, and that Jews control the media and the government.

This is not normal. In a previous era, a hateful person on the street with a megaphone was just that. One person can be ignored. Now, the reach of that same person’s voice isn’t limited to the people in the immediate vicinity. All the world can hear it.

History is not ambiguous about what happens when antisemitism is mainstreamed into society.

What’s particularly unique and dangerous about antisemitism is that it comes from left, right, and center. It comes from the religious and it comes from the secular. It comes from the rich and it comes from the poor. It comes from white people, and it comes from people of color. Where there’s a demographic in America, there’s antisemitism.

The reasons for Jew-hatred are as varied as the people who espouse it.

Whether it’s right-wing tropes about a Jewish worldwide conspiracy or some Christians branding Jews as Christ-killers, antisemitism is alive and well.

On the Left, where many American Jews find their political home, too many are being asked to speak for Israel and its actions — a state thousands of miles away for which they have no obligation to condemn.

Sadly, some Jews also feel forced to choose between their Jewishness and their LGBTQ identity. It has to stop.

It’s time to stop calling the rise in antisemitism anything other than an emergency.

In my years as an advocate for LGBTQ rights, I’ve been privileged to have a courtside seat to a sea-change in public opinion on these issues.

In 1998 just one in four Americans supported same-sex marriage. Now, the inverse is true. And President Biden just signed into law bi-partisan legislation that protects our right to marry whom we love.

This kind of change doesn’t just happen. It didn’t happen because we called out the haters and tried to shut them up.

It happened because we were brave, and we were proud. We had the courage to show our true selves to our families, our colleagues, and our friends. We ran for office, and we won. The American people saw our humanity and our love, and they embraced us.

We will be victorious, because we will live our lives as our true authentic selves.

Hug your Jewish and LGBTQ friends and neighbors and tell them you love them and that you support them. Stand with them.

Hate can’t be defeated with silence from us, and it can’t be defeated by silencing them.

Remember that hate can be defeated when we take away its power and shine a light instead.