Jerusalem LGBTQ+ org. invites Noam head Avi Maoz to join Pride parade

The Open House raised over NIS 100,000 from a fund established in Noam Party leader Avi Maoz's honor.

Attendees at the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance march, June 3, 2021.  (photo credit: TZVI JOFFRE)
Attendees at the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance march, June 3, 2021.
(photo credit: TZVI JOFFRE)

The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance invited Noam Party head Avi Maoz to join the Jerusalem LGBTQ+ Pride Parade in a letter on Tuesday, thanking the MK for his help in raising funds for the event.

Earlier this month, Maoz told the Olam Katan Shabbat pamphlet that he will “see to it” that the march is canceled.

“An abominable and promiscuous parade in public?! After all, this is the public space of the Jewish state! I feel that I am expressing the opinion of the majority of the residents of the State of Israel, who think that the public parade should be stopped,” he said.

In response to Maoz's statements, the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance announced the opening of a charity fund "in honor of MK Avi Maoz" dedicated to "strengthening the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in Jerusalem - in a parade, in the media, and in any way we can think of!"

The Open House set up a page on their website to donate to the new fund, adding that they would update Maoz when donations were made with a personal thank you letter.

  Noam Party leader MK Avi Maoz, December 5, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Noam Party leader MK Avi Maoz, December 5, 2022. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Since the fund in Maoz's honor was opened it has raised over NIS 100,000.

In a letter on Wednesday, the Open House addressed Maoz, writing "As you are an elected official who serves the general public, we wanted to express our feelings of appreciation for your work to raise awareness of the Pride and Tolerance March among the Israeli public."

"There is no doubt that there are entire communities in Israel in which the LGBTQ+ people within them would not have known that there is a community waiting to receive them with open arms if not for your hard work in raising awareness about the peaceable, loving and freedom seeking LGBTQ+ organizations in Israel.

"Despite the affront prevailing between us and you, we strive to walk in the path of Rav Kook, increasing justice instead of complaining about evil and thanks to you we were able to recruit about another thousand donations for the next Pride and Tolerance March. How greatly the Lord has rewarded you, in a place that you wanted to stir the fire of hate, you ignited love, in the place you intended to pour darkness, a light was lit."

The Open House asked Maoz to see the letter as "a personal invitation" to participate in the Jerusalem Pride March, which is set to take place on June 1, 2023, adding that the letter is an "unequivocal clarification that the march in Jerusalem will take place with or without you."

Jerusalem Pride to continue for 21st year next June

The Jerusalem Pride march marked 20 years of Pride events in Israel's capital this past June, with about 10,000 people estimated to have taken part in the event.

Before the march this past year, the organizers of the event received threatening messages warning that the senders would not allow the march to occur and that “the fate of Shira Banki,” who was murdered by a Haredi man during the 2015 Pride march in the city, was “awaiting” the participants.

“We will not allow the Pride march to be held in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the holy city. The fate of Shira Banki is waiting for you all,” wrote the anonymous threatener.

Threats to Pride events were reported across the country this year, with an event planned in Netivot cancelled after bullets were placed on property belonging to relatives of the organizers.

In May, Rabbi Tzvi Kustiner, a member of the Noam Party, told his students in Mitzpe Ramon to "fight" against LGBTQ+ people.

“This is the battle that I tell everyone, each one in his place. Don’t be shy. Be courageous. Where you work say ‘LGBTQ+ people, go home!’ ‘gays, go home!’ Fight them on everything.” said Kustiner in a filmed speech.

In June, ahead of a Pride march planned in Mitzpe Ramon, a member of the local LGBTQ+ community received a threat reading "we have nothing to lose, if some pass by the house of the rabbi - we will kill them."

Noam was established by members of the hardline wing of the religious-Zionist community – specifically, close associates and allies of alleged sex offender Rabbi Zvi Yisrael Thau, head of Yeshivat Har Hamor.

The party ran a campaign focusing strongly on what it views as Jewish values and strongly against LGBTQ people and Reform Jews.

Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.