Holon's Deputy Mayor Yoel Yeshurun apologized on Wednesday for insulting participants in last week’s Pride Parade in Tel Aviv.
In a Facebook post over a week ago Yeshurun, who also serves as the dean of the Ashkelon Academic College, called LGBT Pride Month events, which include SlutWalk March and Gay Pride Parade, a place where “those two-legged animals walk proudly, deeply disturbed, those who lay with men as well as ugly female animals with 'I'm a slut’ tattoos!!!”
In an email titled “apology,” the deputy mayor wrote, “I would like to express my apology for the post that I wrote on my private Facebook page. For its content and the way I expressed myself with regards to the LGBT community."
“I got carried away and failed by using inappropriate expressions which hurt the LGBT community. It wasn’t my intention. I’ve held the position of the dean of the Ashkelon Academic College for the past 18 years, and during that time, the principle of equality and respect has always been and will always remain a guiding light, regardless of color, religion, race, gender and sexual preferences. I will sign off with a plea for forgiveness from all of those who've been hurt my me,” concluded Yeshurun in his letter.
Earlier on Wednesday, dozens of professors from Yeshurun’s college wrote a letter to the president of the Ashkelon Academic College, Shlomo Grossman, criticizing the “feeble response” by the school's administration to the current crisis.
They also demanded to start disciplinary proceedings against Yeshurun and asked for an “unreserved apology to both the LGBT community and to participants of both marches, at whom he lashed out without restraint.”
As a result, the Ashkelon Academic College issued a harsh condemnation for Yeshurun’s outburst.
One of the letter’s consignees, Dr.Yael Ram, who is a senior lecturer at the Department of Tourism in the college and specializes in LGBT tourism in Tel Aviv, said, “I know that LGBT tourism in Tel Aviv is an asset to the city. With regards to the Facebook post—everything has already been said."
“We need to promote an educational dialogue of understanding in order to accept people as they are. Those who have heard about the post are angered. We need to underline that it’s not in line with the values of our college, which is accepting of everyone,” continued Dr. Ram.
She concluded by saying “I congratulate the college on issuing the condemnation and on initiating educational measures which will ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.”
Dr. Robert Albin, Chairman of the Coordinating Council of Public Academic College, said “We condemn and denounce any statement of this nature. The job of the college is to create equal opportunities between the center and the periphery, both geographically and socially. This kind of statement shouldn’t come, especially from a place like ours, which is at a disadvantage when it comes to higher education.”
“The Council advocates pluralism and unequivocally rejects the harsh remarks—they don’t have a place in academia,” exclaimed Albin.
The storm surrounding Yeshurun’s comments isn’t showing signs of abating. On Tuesday, a demonstration was held outside of the Ashkelon College campus with around 20 LGBT activists and school’s students. Following the protest, the students claim they weren’t allowed re-enter the campus. Footage from the event shows one student was barred from entering after telling a security guard he wants to enter the campus in order to not “stir a provocation.”
On Thursday, the LGBT Association is planning a protest in front of the Holon Municipality building, to demand the resignation of Yeshurun.
The Ashkelon College said in response “The college administration rejects Yeshurun’s statement, its content and its style, there’s no place for such remarks and especially not in college. Once the administration became aware of Yeshurun’s statement, he was called to order by the administration, expressed his sincere apologies and was told to retract his comments and to publish an apology.”
“The administration’s position on all social groups is known and clear—we invest great effort and funds in order to integrate all communities. The college campus is open for anyone wanting an education, which is in line with our school’s rules and regulations,” concluded the administration.
Achva, the LGBTI Student's Association in Israel, asserted that “Yeshurun’s apology came too late. The freedom of expression of the college students has been taken away. The true nature has been exposed. We will not sit idly by until the students in Ashkelon have a safe space to express themselves, without being sanctioned or being afraid. We are still getting questions ‘How is a legitimate students’ demonstration not allowed within the walls of an academic institution?'”
Yaffa Tabage, Chairman of the Students Union at Ashkelon Academic College, said, “The Student’s Union has condemned and taken a clear stance against the dean’s comments on the LGBT. There’s no place for his remarks, and he does not represent us, the students, the union and the college.”