Israel's Ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog, hosted an LGBTQ Pride celebration at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC on Thursday, with honored guests Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Rachel L. Levine, M.D., the highest-ranking openly transgender official in a US presidential administration, and Israel's Eurovision 2018 winner Netta Barzilai.
Levine, who is a member of both the Jewish and the LGBTQ community, is also the first openly transgender four-star officer in any US uniformed service and the first openly transgender person to hold a Senate-confirmed office.
The admiral stated that it was "an absolute honor to come to Pride at the Israeli embassy," and discussed the importance of health equity for all, as well as how crucial it is to support and provide healthcare to LGBTQ youth.
The embassy's Pride celebration centered on themes of inclusion, diversity, and joy this year, with the event space decked out with colorful decorations and guests served an array of rainbow-colored cocktails. A mini ice cream bar was also set up where guests could decorate cones with rainbow sprinkles.
About 300 people attended the event, including state and local officials from DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as members of the media and leaders in civil society and the Jewish community.
'We must take a stand against intolerance and bigotry'
"Pride goes beyond tolerance; it means and calls for equity, inclusivity, diversity and love," said Herzog, stressing that "we must actively take a stand against those voices – in Israel, here in the US, and across the globe – who seek to spread intolerance and bigotry."
"The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over, and there must be open cooperation between government and civil society to achieve this important goal," said the ambassador. "We stand committed to this effort and look forward to a world where every individual can be open about and proud of who they are. This is why I am proud to host Pride here at the embassy as the ambassador of Israel."
Herzog addressed Levine as well during his remarks, thanking her for joining the event and stating "Who knows, maybe next year you will join us for Pride in Jerusalem!"
Barzilai closed the event with a short musical performance of her hit "Toy."
The event was emceed by embassy spokesperson Elad Strohmayer, a member of the LGBTQ community.