Gov't leaders, LGBTQ+ groups fume over Netanyahu-Avi Maoz agreement

As part of the agreement signed with Maoz, he will serve as head of a new "National Jewish Identity Department," as well as of Nativ, a liaison body for Russian Jewry.

 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)

Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Israel's top LGBTQ+ advocacy group all condemned prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition deal with MK Avi Maoz's one-man Noam faction on Sunday.

As part of the agreement signed between the Likud and Maoz's religious extremist party, Noam's one and only MK will serve as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, in charge of a new “National Jewish Identity Department.”

A ‘low point’ for the State of Israel

The Aguda – The Association for LGBTQ+ Equality in Israel said the inclusion of Maoz in Netanyahu's future government is a "low point" for the State of Israel.

"The man who called us perverts and pedophiles, and referred to our sexual orientations as 'upside down,' has no right being a deputy minister in an Israeli government," the Agudah said in a statement. "His work revolves around an obsession to take away rights from the LGBTQ+ community and to legitimize hate against it.

 Noam MK Avi Maoz attends a discussion at the Knesset, at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on November 22, 2022.  (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90) Noam MK Avi Maoz attends a discussion at the Knesset, at the assembly hall of the Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on November 22, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

"We will not allow even the slightest violation of our rights," the LGBTQ+ group stated, further warning the incoming government that any such attack on the pride community's rights will be followed by a "widespread public response by the dominant majority within the Israeli public."

"[Avi Maoz's] work revolves around an obsession to take away rights from the LGBTQ+ community"

The Aguda – The Association for LGBTQ+ Equality in Israel

Last week, Maoz spoke out against Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton's new set of guidelines for how to treat LGBTQ+ kids in school that were designed to protect the children. In the Knesset, he said that these guidelines violate the children's rights and that the parents' consent and knowledge of the guidelines was more important. He ended by mocking Shasha-Biton and asking her if she prefers to be addressed as ma'am or sir.

Lapid was also quick to respond to the agreement, writing on Twitter that "it appears that, instead of a 'fully right-wing' government, the one being formed is fully unhinged."

"Netanyahu hiring Avi Maoz, rabbi [Zvi] Thau's representative, as deputy minister is nothing short of insanity," the prime minister said.

Gantz also condemned the coalition agreement, saying that Maoz's Jewish identity is a "racist identity. We will fight this extremist Netanyahu government with all the tools at hand," he stressed on Twitter.

Maoz to take charge of Israeli body in contact with Russian Jewry

In addition, Maoz will also take charge of “Nativ,” a body within the Prime Minister’s Office charged with liaising with Jewish communities mainly in the former Soviet Union, his spokesman confirmed. The organization can determine the eligibility of people wishing to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.

This drew the condemnation of the Reform Movement, which stated it "would like to remind the incoming new department head that there is more than one way to be Jewish.

"Avi Maoz, who received a job laden with funds from [Netanyahu], will not decide for millions of Jews in Israel and the Diaspora what those ways are."