LGBTQ+ org. calls for criminal investigation of Noam Party over blacklist

Israeli law forbids "spying on, ambushing or tracking a person's movements or actions" as a form of harassment.

 MK Avi Maoz attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 21, 2021. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK Avi Maoz attends an Arrangements Committee meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 21, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel (The Aguda) has called on Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara to launch a criminal investigation against the Noam Party after Yediot Aharonot revealed a "blacklist" of people and organizations compiled by the party.

On Thursday, Yediot Aharonot revealed that in late 2019, the Noam Party compiled lists of organizations and individuals identified as LGBTQ+, leftist or pro-women's rights.

The newspaper later published another blacklist compiled by Noam concerning the Justice Ministry, with Noam responding by publishing the full document and "thanking" the newspaper. A summary at the beginning of that document warns that "the deep state is most present in the judiciary."

One document compiled by the party listed the names of journalists at newspapers, TV channels and radio stations who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Another document listed organizations that the Noam Party claims is influencing the education system.

Aguda warns that Noam's blacklists are threatening

The Aguda argued that the Noam Party's blacklists violated the law to prevent threatening harassment.

LGBTQ youth protest against far right Noam party at Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem (credit: Courtesy)LGBTQ youth protest against far right Noam party at Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem (credit: Courtesy)

"The latest publications about the party's 'blacklists,' including LGBTQ+ people in the media, show that the party has been monitoring and marking citizens based on their sexual identity or their political or civil positions. We stand by the men and women of the media who saw themselves as targets for harm just because of their identity," said the Aguda.

"It is the right of each and every one of us not to feel exposed to a continuous potential danger to his safety from the government. We will not remain silent and will do everything to ensure that full justice is served against those who incite against us."

The Prevention of Threatening Harassment Law defines "threatening harassment" as "the harassment of a person by another person in any way or the making of threats against him, in circumstances that give a reasonable basis for assuming that the harasser or the threatener may return and harm the peace of life, privacy or freedom of the person or that he may harm his body."

The law states that "spying on, ambushing or tracking a person's movements or actions, or violating their privacy in any other way," is considered as a violation of the law.

According to data from the Aguda, there has been a 75% increase in LGBTQ-phobia since the elections, with 462 incidents of hate and violence reported in November compared to 265 incidents in November last year.

Hila Pe'er, the chairwoman of the Aguda, told Ynet that the blacklist "smells of dark periods in history."

"They don't just mark the LGBTQ+ community, they mark the members of the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters," added Pe'er. "There is dehumanization here and this is a bright warning light that should shake the thresholds of this country."

"If we look at the last two months - starting with the first statement of 'we will deal with the visibility of the LGBTQ+ people in the public sphere', the release of content designed to promote tolerance in schools, to the release of a list of LGBTQ+ people and their supporters - the feeling is that the LGBTQ+ community is being marked as a target," said the Aguda chairwoman.

"This is a community whose struggle for years has been to be part of Israeli society, we struggle to be equal, and the struggle on the other side is to eradicate us and denounce us. We are in the fight for our home, and there is nothing more Zionist than that."

Maoz's role in the pending coalition

According to an agreement Noam Party head Avi Maoz signed with prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, Maoz will be appointed as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, heading an office called “The Authority for National-Jewish Identity.”

Maoz will have control over the Unit for External Programs and Promotion of Partnerships, which is responsible for “the development and leading of dialogue between societal sectors in the units of the Education Ministry while imparting skills for sharing processes and creating a culture of participatory governance.”

Everything from art programs to science programs to political and societal programs are offered by external organizations with the approval of this unit. LGBT organizations such as Israel Gay Youth, Hoshen, and Shoval provide programming for Israeli students through this unit.

School principals can choose programs off the list approved by this unit to allow into their schools. For example, a more conservative, religious school may choose programs about religion or tradition or Jewish history, while a more liberal, secular school may prefer programming about LGBT tolerance or feminism. Each school has the choice to decide which programs it allows and which programs it doesn’t.

Noam Party's past statements threats against the LGBTQ+ community

The Noam Party has been in hot water before for making both threats and statements against the LGBTQ+ community.

In an interview with the Olam Katan Shabbat pamphlet published earlier this month, Maoz stated that he will “see to it” that the Jerusalem Pride parade 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 May, Rabbi Tzvi Kustiner, the head of the hesder yeshiva in Mitzpe Ramon and a member of Noam, told students to "fight" 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!’" said Kustiner at the time. "Fight them on everything. It is our job in every place not to be ashamed of our Judaism."

Weeks later, when a Pride parade was set to take place in the city, Kustiner and those close to him warned police that if the march passed near the yeshiva "they will not be able to control the students and the rabbi will not forbid them from arriving to the site," according to Haaretz.

A member of the LGBTQ+ community in the city filed a complaint with police after receiving a threat stating "we have nothing to lose, if someone passes by the house of the rabbi - we will kill them."