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In notable stand, Israel’s ambassador to US says ‘trans rights are human rights’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, who represents the most right-wing government in the country’s history, called for a stand against “intolerance and bigotry” targeting the LGBTQ community in the United States and Israel.

“We must also recognize the many challenges that remain, and actively take a stand against those voices — in Israel, here in the U.S. and across the globe — who seek to spread intolerance and bigotry,” Herzog said at a Pride event Thursday at the Israeli embassy. “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.”

Herzog also embraced rights for transgender people, a fraught issue in the current U.S. political climate. He finished by saying, “Gay rights are human rights! Trans rights are human rights! And ultimately — love prevails.”

The embassy has for years hosted a Pride event in June, during Pride month. But rights for the LGBTQ community have drawn intensified conservative opposition in the last year or so, both in Israel and the United States. There are hundreds of proposed laws initiated by Republicans at the state and federal level that would roll back some LGBTQ rights and restrict gender-affirming health care. 

Herzog’s unapologetic defense of LGBTQ rights is more notable given the fact that there are a number of self-declared “homophobes” in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

The headline speaker at the event was Rachel Levine, the Jewish and openly transgender assistant U.S. Secretary for Health, appearing in person, in her uniform as an admiral, the rank conferred on assistant secretaries of health. Last year Levine delivered a video message to the event.

Levine also spoke out for transgender rights. “This has been a very hard year for transgender people and trans youth in particular, across the United States,” she said, referring to the wave of anti-trans bills that have arisen over the past year

“These ideological and politically motivated attacks in numerous states are not grounded in science, or evidence of any kind. Gender-affirming care is essential health care!” she said to applause.

 

Netta Barzilai appears at a Pride event at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. on June 29, 2023. (Shmulik Almany, Embassy of Israel)

The featured performer was Netta Barzilai, the Israeli winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest who has become a favorite of the LGBTQ community. Accompanying herself on a looping machine, she sang four songs that she said encouraged the embrace of one’s identity, including “Toy,” the Eurovision-winning song, and “I Love My Nails.” The lyrics include: “I, I love my nails, I, I love my nails/Oh my God, I can’t stop looking at myself.”

Introducing the song, Netta, as she is known onstage, said she learned to love herself at the manicurist. “I made myself so unique and peculiar that nobody could compare me to anyone,” she said. “And after that, I became so confident, so in love with [my] physique, I’m so in love with my personality that nobody could ever take that away from me.”

The Pride event Thursday was unlike previous affairs at the embassy, which had mainly been occasions for speeches. Guests were encouraged to wear bold colors and clothing. Herzog’s wife Shirin wore a tuxedo shirt with a pink men’s tie featuring a penguin pattern. (Penguins, who occasionally pair as same sex couples, are an LGBTQ symbol.)

Cocktails flowed freely, in the colors of the Pride flag: sangria (red); whiskey sour (orange); tequila sunrise (yellow); mojito (green); blue lagoon (blue); and purple rain (purple).

Herzog’s brother is the Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, who is addressing Congress on July 19 to mark 75 years of the U.S.-Israel relationship.


The post In notable stand, Israel’s ambassador to US says ‘trans rights are human rights’ appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters

Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition.   “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]

The post ‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed

FILE PHOTO: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi speaks during his transition ceremony with the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and the outgoing chief, in Jerusalem, January 16, 2023. Maya Alleruzzo/Pool via REUTERS

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi called on the ultra-Orthodox public to mobilize for the current and future wars, a position at odds with their historic role in the state, in which they enjoy near blanket exemptions from military service.

“In these challenging days, there is one thing that is very clear: Everyone should mobilize for the defense of the homeland,” Halevi said.

He added: “This is a different era, and what was before it will certainly be re-examined. The IDF has always sought to bring into its ranks from all sections of Israeli society. This war illustrates the need to change. Join the service, protect the homeland. We have a historic opportunity to expand the sources of recruitment for the IDF at a time when the necessity is very high. We will know how to create the right solutions and conditions for any population that will join this noble mission.”

The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF has been a hot button issue since the state’s establishment in 1948 and, in more recent years, the cause of wide scale backlash against the community. As part of an agreement when the state was founded, the ultra-Orthodox public was exempted completely from service. However, as the years progressed and the population grew exponentially, critics of the policy decried the unfairness of it.

A bill last week was introduced by the ruling Likud Party that called for an increase in military service time, particularly for reserve forces, yet failed to discuss the ultra-Orthodox issue. Backlash from both opposition and coalition members was swift.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time said, “The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”

Halevi’s comments were his first on the highly contentious issue.

The post IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas

A legal brief documenting the kidnapping, rape, torture and executions of Israelis who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza has been filed at the International Criminal Court by the Canadian-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. The 1,000-page dossier documents the brutality of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which killed […]

The post Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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