Israel's far-right is no better than Iran's Ayatollahs

Opinion: Dangerous ideas are seeping into the heart of the right, turning it increasingly similar to the fundamentalist American right which opposes reproductive rights and is deeply racist and anti-LGBTQ

Shelly Yacimovich |
Published: 06.02.22, 23:25
Had Israelis heard the Iranian Ayatollah voicing the same hateful dribble about the LGBTQIA2S+ community spewed by Yeshivat Midbara K'Eden dean Rabbi Tzvi Kostiner, they would have dismissed it in disgust and considered it another testament to the threat the Islamic Republic poses to the West and its values.
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  • But what would we say about one of the leading religious Zionist rabbis who hails from a respectable pedigree? A teacher and an educator who stuffs students' heads year after year with inciteful texts mired in hate and lies? One who calls to banish the "evil, violent and abusive" homosexuals?
    3 View gallery
    Pride Parade caricature
    Pride Parade caricature
    (Illustration: Guy Morad)
    Kostiner said these things as he addressed a crowd of protesters camped outside the home of conservative Yamina legislator Nir Orbach, demanding he resigns from the coalition.
    "By God, this insane government will fall," he said and concluded his remarks with the words: "A Jewish state, a Jewish army and a Torah country."
    New and murky streams are converging into the far-right, like economic libertarians whose worldview is far removed from the historic ideology laid out by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, cruel and devoid of social solidarity.
    Meanwhile, the peculiar resemblance to the American conservative, fundamentalist right is only growing with opposition to reproductive rights, pushing guns for all and abhorrence of feminism, LGBTQIA2S+ rights and anything that gives off a whiff of political correctness.
    These streams harmoniously converge with our own Ayatollah undertow into a confluence of hate which they spread with glee. The name of the Religious Zionist Party, and Kostiner the co-founder of its extremist Noam faction, is an insult to religious Zionism as a whole.
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    ההפגנה מול ביתו של אורבך
    ההפגנה מול ביתו של אורבך
    Rightwing demonstrators outside the home of Yamina member Nir Orbach
    (Photo: Amit Sha'al)
    All of these seep into the heart of the right fueled by a cult of personality around a fake, corrupt and hateful king who wishes to bury the rule of law. Benjamin Netanyahu planted these bad seeds and he waters them with love and legitimizes them.
    Kostiner was caught on tape speaking to a crowd of younger and older men, with no women in sight. We know what he thinks of us. He was kicked out of the army after claiming drafting women is destroying the IDF.
    Statistically speaking, there must have been at least some homosexuals or parents to LGBTQIA2S+ children among his listeners. I feel their pain. These words close in the walls of their nightmarish prison. Everyone remained mum. Nobody asked about "love thy neighbor" or pointed out that discrimination at the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation is illegal. Zilch.
    How vast is the rift between these murky streams and the Israeli mainstream which embraces the LGBTQIA2S+ community with open arms?
    These are deep-rooted depth processes that are exceedingly difficult to tackle but there are at least two immediate conclusions from this.
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    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים יוצא לדרך
    מצעד הדגלים בירושלים יוצא לדרך
    Members of far-right Jewish supremacist group Lehava march in Jerusalem
    (Photo: AFP)
    First, the current government — no matter how bad, unstable, and right-wing it is — is still preferable to the nightmare that Kostiner represents and there is no other choice but to make every effort possible to preserve it.
    The second, thankfully, is much easier. LGBTQIA2S+ have long become a universal and international gauge of a country's standards. An indication of enlightenment, progress, and equality.
    In a week, colorful pride parades will march in Jerusalem and in dozens of other places nationwide. Record turnout for these events will be the appropriate answer to prove who we are.
    Come one, come all.

    Shelly Yacimovich is the former leader of the Labor Party and the opposition.
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