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Israel has been an LGBTQ haven in the Middle East. Its new government could change that.

(JTA) — The minister holding the country’s purse strings calls himself a “proud homophobe.” Another minister says Pride parades are “vulgar,” while a deputy minister who wants to cancel them was just given power over some aspects of what schoolchildren are taught. And then there are the lawmakers who want doctors to be able to decline medical care to LGBTQ people.

These are all members of the new Israeli government helmed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and their extreme anti-LGBTQ sentiment has unnerved LGBTQ Israelis and their allies at home and overseas. 

The politicians’ positions are not new, but their positions of power and leverage within the government are. Plus, the new government’s push toward a judicial overhaul that would give lawmakers the right to overrule the Supreme Court adds vulnerability to legal precedents that have protected LGBTQ Israelis.

“The majority of the gay community in Israel is feeling very unsafe,” said Hila Peer, the chairwoman of Aguda-The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel. “You have at least an intention to legislate laws that are dire for the gay community.”

Could Israel cease to be a haven for LGBTQ people in a hostile region? Netanyahu and others in his coalition say they are committed to protecting gay rights, but the volatile political situation means the future is hard to predict. Here’s what you need to know.

Where did LGBTQ Israelis stand before this government?

Israel is known as a gay haven in the Middle East, and Tel Aviv is frequently cited as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, with a Pride parade that draws hundreds of thousands of revelers from Israel and abroad. But the full picture is more complicated.

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Israel. Still, like other couples not recognized by the country’s religious establishment, LGBTQ couples can access the legal benefits of marriage.

Israel’s religious institutions control marriage for each of its constituent faiths, and the Jewish rabbinate hews to Orthodoxy. That means a slew of couples cannot marry in the country: interfaith couples; marriages between Jews in which one of the couple is not recognized as Jewish under Orthodox precepts; marriages between a man and a woman who was not divorced under religious law; marriages between a “Cohen,” or descendant of a Jewish high priest, and a divorced woman; and LGBTQ couples.

Under Israeli law, those relationships are nonetheless recognized as legal for the purposes of benefits, inheritance, parenting, adoption and other rights, if the couple is wed abroad, or in certain cases if the couple can simply prove a longstanding common-law relationship. 

Israel’s Supreme Court has been essential to extending marriage rights to LGBTQ couples. In 2006, the court ruled that the country must recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad. In 2021, the court extended the right to same-sex couples to have children via surrogates, and last year, a lower court recognized marriages carried out remotely, which effectively allows same-sex marriages in which the couple, if not the officiant, is in Israel.

Other protections have come through the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, though less so in recent years. A rarely enforced ban on homosexual relations was taken off the books in 1988, and the army began allowing openly gay service members in 1993 — the same year the U.S. armed forces adopted a policy permitting gay service members only if they remained closeted.

In 1992, the Knesset passed a law banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, with some religious exceptions. In 1997, the Knesset extended to the LGBTQ community protections from defamatory language that are available to other communities. And in 2000, it passed the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services and Entry into Places of Entertainment and Public Places Law, which forbids the denial of services to any class of people, including based on sexual orientation.

Despite the legal protections, LGBTQ Israelis have long faced opposition from within the haredi Orthodox sector, where rabbis inveigh against homosexuality and politicians have vowed to run the country according to Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law. Jerusalem’s smaller Pride parade has frequently attracted extremist protesters from the sector, some of them violent. One teenage participant was murdered in 2015.

What changes do members of the current government want to make?

Politicians from the religious parties in the new government have floated multiple changes to laws and regulations that would diminish the status of LGBTQ Israelis.

The Religious Zionist Party, one of three in the Religious Zionist Bloc, is led by Bezalel Smotrich, who has called himself a “proud homophobe” and has envisioned Israel as a theocracy. At least two members of the bloc, including Orit Strok, say a proposed law would allow service providers, including physicians, to decline treatment to LGBTQ people.

Another party in the bloc, Noam, is led by Avi Maoz, who wants to cancel Pride parades. He also advocates for conversion therapy, a practice shown to increase the risk of suicide for LGBTQ people who experience it. Maoz, who was given a new role in charge of “Jewish identity,” was confirmed on Sunday to a Ministry of Education position with authority over external programming in schools.

Even the minister responsible for maintaining relations with Diaspora Jews has expressed anti-LGBTQ sentiment. Amichai Chikli favors recognition of same-sex relationships but derides LGBTQ “pride,” says he finds the annual pride parade to be “vulgar” and believes that sexual expression should be “subdued.” He has also said that the LGBTQ rainbow flag is an antisemitic symbol.

For now, these proposals and ideas exist in the realm of rhetoric. But the deal between Netanyahu’s party, Likud, and United Torah Judaism, the haredi Orthodox bloc, spells out that the 2000 prohibition-of-discrimination law will be amended “in a way that will prevent any harm to a private business that withholds services or products based on religious belief, as long as the product or service is not unique and a similar product or service is available nearby geographically and for a similar price.”

Both opponents and defenders of the change say it echoes recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have allowed evangelical Christian wedding retailers to decline services to same-sex couples.

That’s a license to discriminate, said Peer. “The Discrimination Act amendment will actually state that any person in Israel can be discriminated against based on ‘belief’ and that is simply a horrible situation for us to be in,” she said.

Is Netanyahu on board with anti-LGBTQ proposals?

Not directly. Netanyahu has never made anti-LGBTQ sentiment core to his governance, and he has been critical of anti-LGBTQ expressions by his coalition partners this month. He called the idea of letting medical providers deny care to LGBTQ patients “unacceptable” and has appointed a close ally who is gay, Amir Ohana, as Knesset speaker. (Some haredi lawmakers refused to look at Ohana, and a leading rabbi affiliated with Shas, one of the coalition partners, said Ohana was infected with a “disease.”) Netanyahu also opposed Maoz’s call to cancel the Jerusalem Pride parade.

Netanyahu has pointed to LGBTQ rights when insisting — as he has done frequently — that he is in control of his government, despite the prominent positions awarded to its extremist members.

“This Israel is not going to be governed by Talmudic law,” he told opinion journalist Bari Weiss. “We’re not going to ban LGBT forums. As you know, my view on that is sharply different, to put it mildly. We’re going to remain a country of laws. I govern through the principles that I believe in.”

But Netanyahu’s concessions to the far-right parties made to smooth his path back into power have his critics concerned that he may not keep his word on LGBTQ rights. The coalition agreement about the discrimination law, while not binding, indicates that he is willing to compromise. 

Peer said Netanyahu’s signed pledge to the Religious Zionist bloc held more water with her than his protestations afterward.

“Why give the man the keys if you’re not going to let him drive the car?” she said.

Furthermore, even if Netanyahu prevents anti-LGBTQ laws from reaching the books, he backs proposed changes to the judiciary that would make vulnerable protections obtained through the courts. 

How does the controversial judiciary overhaul proposal factor in?

The main action taken so far by Netanyahu’s new government relates to the country’s judiciary. His new justice minister, Yariv Levin, has proposed letting a Knesset majority of 61 members to override the Supreme Court if the Court strikes down a law. Levin has also proposed letting the Knesset majority appoint the majority on the panel responsible for appointing judges.

Those proposals, which are moving through the legislative process with Netanyahu’s support, would “in the long run totally and almost surely infringe on the rights” of LGBTQ Israelis, according to Amir Fuchs, a senior researcher at the nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute’s Center for Democratic Values and Institutions.

“The coalition will have total power to appoint the judges which means they will be a lot more conservative, more religious,” Fuchs said. “If the Supreme Court will have been captured by a coalition which is very religious, very nationalist, very conservative, then we cannot rely anymore on the Supreme Court to further progress the rights” for LGBTQ people, or for others at risk of marginalization. He said the changes would likely result in a majority of right-wing judges within four to six years.

The proposals have drawn criticism from nonpartisan watchdogs, international legal experts and Israel’s left, which views the judiciary as an essential bulwark against theocratic governance. An estimated 100,000 people protested against the proposals in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, and more protests are planned. 

But a majority of Israelis appear to support allowing the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings, according to a poll released Monday by the Israel Democracy Institute

Do anti-LGBTQ measures have public support in Israel?

No. Polls show the majority of Israelis back equal treatment for the LGBTQ community.

“We have an extreme right-wing group that is threatening to make changes that the vast majority of the public does not stand behind,” Peer said.

Fuchs said a backlash would likely inhibit, at least in the short term, the passage of any proposed laws targeting the LGBTQ community. 

“There is a strong support of LGBTQ rights, so it won’t be easy to pass laws that bluntly and openly infringe upon LGBTQ rights,” he said.

Some backlash has already occurred. Strok’s speculation that doctors could deny service to LGBTQ people immediately spurred a social media video montage of staff for 10 medical service providers in Israel in which they repeated, “We treat everyone!” One of the speakers was a Hasidic male urgent care nurse, in a sign that even Orthodox sectors might not support extreme actions.

But Smotrich says he believes his party’s supporters are not bothered by anti-LGBTQ efforts.

“A Sephardi or a traditional Jew, do you think he cares about gays? He couldn’t care less. He says, ‘Do you think I care that you [Smotrich] are against them?’” Smotrich said in a private conversation with a businessman that the public broadcaster Kan published on Monday. (The coalition is also threatening to defund Kan.) In the comments, Smotrich outlined some limits on his activism. “I’m a fascist homophobe, but I’m a man of my word,” he said. “I won’t stone gays.”

What are LGBTQ activists in Israel and the Diaspora saying and doing?

LGBTQ Israelis are playing a crucial role in the mounting anti-government protests, activating a network that put some 100,000 people in the streets in 2018 after Netanyahu voted against a bill to allow gay couples to use surrogacy. 

And even without any concrete changes taking place yet, LGBTQ activists say talk is already creating a hostile environment

Ethan Felson, the CEO of A Wider Bridge, a U.S. organization that advocates for Israel’s LGBTQ community — and stands up for Israel within the LGBTQ community — likened the language in the coalition agreements to U.S. party platforms, which do not necessarily influence policy but set a tone nonetheless.

“It can foreshadow, or it could be words on a page,” Felson said. “But those words should never be on any page. I heard from the mom of [an Israeli] trans kid this morning just how fearful they are for their families, their security. We know all too well that when people say bad things in one place we can expect other people to act out in hateful ways in another.”

Felson, whose past is in Israel advocacy — for years he directed the Jewish Federation of North America’s Israel Action Network — suggested that the part of his current job advocating for Israel in the U.S. LGBTQ community just got a lot harder.

“I would not like to wake up and find out that Kanye West is in charge of the Civil Rights Department over at Justice,” is how he described the challenge, referring to the rapper and designer who in recent months has come out as an antisemite.

Felson’s group is urging U.S. Jews who meet with politicians from the new government to raise concerns about LGBTQ Israelis. It is also planning to call on pro-Israel funders to fill any budget gap created if the Israeli government slashes funds for LGBTQ services, as Felson expects it to be.

A Wider Bridge is also planning to forego its traditional presence at Tel Aviv Pride to instead join the Jerusalem parade, which takes place in a more fraught atmosphere, according to Felson.

“There’s a time to protest and a time to party,” he said.

Stuart Kurlander, a philanthropist who is prominent in the LGBTQ and the pro-Israel communities, said that he is consulting with LGBTQ activists in Israel, and should things take a turn for the worse, making up for lost government funds could be one avenue for his philanthropy.

“If it develops and there are impacts to the LGBTQ community, then I along with other philanthropists will look to try and fill those gaps,” he said.

Kurlander said in an interview that he takes Netanyahu and Ohana at their word that they will stem an anti-LGBTQ backlash. He said his support for Israel would not be diminished if the changes by the extremists go through, but that other donors might be negatively affected.

“It’s not going to deter me and my support for Israel,” he said. “I suspect it may for some.”

The post Israel has been an LGBTQ haven in the Middle East. Its new government could change that. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Comparing European, American, and French Roulette at Canadian online casinos

Roulette is the most popular table game at online and land-based casinos alike. You can easily find a seat at the table, place your bets, and hope that the wheel turns in your favour. But you have surely noticed that the roulette section is quite rich, featuring at least a dozen different tables. Most of them come with a different design and different rules. The most popular roulette variants are American Roulette, European, and French Roulette. In this article, we will try to explain the main differences between each one.

French VS European Roulette

We’ll first compare the French versus the European version of roulette since they are the most similar. The layout of the bets and the wheel is basically the same. Even the table layout is pretty much the same at most online casinos. Depending on the provider some differences can be found, like the layout of the table or the order of the numbers of the wheel. But as far as the odds and gameplay are concerned, European and French Roulette are basically the same. 

Both roulette variants have a single 0 on the board and the same number of slots on the wheel and numbers on the table. There are 36 additional numbers you can bet on, along with the standard Red or Black and Odd or Even bets. This means both games come with a house edge of 2.7%. So, the only difference comes from the introduction of two basic rules in French Roulette. 

  • La Partage
  • En Prison

La Partage

This rule applies to even money bets, and in case the ball lands on the 0 slot. The term comes from the French word which means to divide. All even money bets are divided into half, and the player gets one half, while the other half goes to the house. This rule works greatly in your favour, especially if you’re playing on higher bets. 

En Prison

The En Prison bet is also applied to even money bets and only when the ball lands on 0. Instead of counting as a loss, the bets are held on the table for the following spin, and if you win, you get your bet back. Even though you don’t actually win anything extra, the En Prison rule gives you a chance to get your money back without a loss. 

The introduction of these rules lowers the house edge on French Roulette down to 1.35%. This is why many players prefer the French version, as the odds are better for the player. 

French VS American Roulette

The main and pretty much only crucial difference between American and French roulette is the 00 and the layout of the slots on the wheel. The added 00 on the American version means that the house edge is higher. It climbs up to 5.26%, which is almost double the house edge on European Roulette and a massive difference from the 1.35% on the French version. 

Since there is an added 00 number, the layout of the slots on the wheel is different. On the table, the 00 is next to the 0, so it doesn’t make a big difference to the layout of the table. But the rules in American roulette are quite simple. If your number doesn’t come up, you lose the bet. There are no extra rules like in the French version. 


If you go by the odds alone, it turns out that the best roulette variant to play at Canadian online casinos is French roulette. But this doesn’t mean you will lose more when you play American or European Roulette. Many players prefer to play the American wheel as it’s faster and more exciting. With the right strategy and some luck on your side, you can easily make a profit on any type of roulette game. 

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Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism

niversity of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram

University of California, Santa Barbara student body president Tessa Veksler on Feb. 26, 2024. Photo: Instagram – “Never would I have imagined that I’d need to fight for my right to exist on campus,” laments Shabbos Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard University who is suing the school because “antisemitism is out of control.”

Jewish students have suffered an unrelenting explosion of hate on American higher education campuses—so far with little relief. They have endured antisemitic rhetoric, intimidation, cancellation and violence. But those charged with keeping campuses safe—whether administrators who govern student and faculty behavior or federal agencies responsible for ensuring that schools adhere to civil rights protections—are failing in their jobs.

Many Jewish students have complained to their colleges’ administrators about the injustices. But instead of responding with measures to ensure Jewish students’ safety—like stopping pro-Hamas protestors from hijacking campuses or expelling militants who incite Jew-hatred— administrators have largely shown indifference. In some cases, college authorities have made things worse for Jewish students by appeasing the riotous, pro-Hamas mobs who have been primary perpetrators of Jew-hatred on campus.

Snubbed by college administrators, Jewish students and their supporters have appealed for federal protection, filing Title VI complaints with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the body tasked with enforcing protections under the Civil Rights Act. Unfortunately, the OCR, which has the power to levy severe financial punishments against colleges that neglect students’ Title VI rights, has so far rewarded negligent universities with little more than slaps on the wrist.

Until college and university boards of trustees begin hiring administrators committed to Jewish students’ safety—and until the OCR begins seriously punishing antisemitic perpetrators—we can expect no respite. Safe to say, colleges and universities run by arrogant, apathetic administrators will not change until their jobs and schools’ survival are threatened.

College/university administrators don’t take antisemitism seriously. Their reactions to Jewish students raising concerns about Jew-hatred range from indifference to outright hostility. For example, when Mohammed Al-Kurd, who the Anti-Defamation League says has a record of “unvarnished, vicious antisemitism,” came to speak at Harvard, Shabbos Kestenbaum and other Jewish students complained to administrators.

Rather than cancel Al-Kurd’s appearance, which would have been the appropriate action, the administrators ignored the students’ complaints. “Harvard’s silence was deafening,” Kestenbaum wrote in Newsweek. Kestenbaum said he “repeatedly” expressed concerns to administrators about the antisemitism he experienced, but as his lawsuit alleges, “evidence of uncontrolled discrimination and harassment fell on deaf ears.”

Administrators at Columbia University reacted to Jewish students’ complaints about antisemitism even more cynically. In fact, during an alumni event, several administrators exchanged text messages mocking Jewish students, calling them “privileged” and “difficult to listen to.”

When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania if calling for genocide against Jews violated their schools’ codes of conduct, none could say “yes.” The presidents of Harvard and UPenn have since resigned. Good riddance.

Some college/university administrators have outrageously granted concessions to pro-Hamas students. For instance, Northwestern University agreed to contact potential employers of students who caused campus disruptions to insist they be hired, create a segregated dormitory hall exclusively for Middle Eastern, North African and Muslim students, and form a new investment committee in which anti-Zionists could wield undue influence. Brown University agreed to hold a referendum on divestment from Israel in October.

Similar appeasements were announced at other colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Johns Hopkins, the University of Minnesota and the University of California Riverside.

So far, OCR has failed to take concrete action against antisemitism on campus. This is evident in recent decisions involving the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan. CUNY was ordered to conduct more investigations into Title VI complaints and report further developments to Washington, provide more employee and campus security officer training, and issue “climate surveys” to students.

The University of Michigan also committed to a “climate survey,” as well as to reviewing its case files for each report of discrimination covered by Title VI during the 2023-2024 school year and reporting to the OCR on its responses to reports of discrimination for the next two school years.

Neither institution was penalized financially, even though the Department of Education has the power to withhold federal funds, which most colleges and universities depend on. There are now 149 pending investigations into campus antisemitism at OCR. If these investigations yield toothless results similar to those of CUNY and Michigan, it is highly unlikely that colleges and universities will improve how they deal with antisemitism.

Putting an end to skyrocketing antisemitism on campus involves three things.

First, donors and governments at every level should withhold funds from colleges that fail to hire administrators who will take antisemitism as seriously as they take pronoun offenses or racism directed at people of color.

Second, the OCR must mete out serious consequences to Title VI violators in the form of funding cuts. This may require legislation that specifically mandates withdrawing funding from offending parties. A bill recently introduced by Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.)—the University Accountability Act—may be ideal, as it is designed to financially penalize institutions that don’t crack down on antisemitism.

Third, if OCR won’t act, Jewish students and their supporters should turn to the courts. Lori Lowenthal Marcus, the legal director of the Deborah Project, a public-interest Jewish law firm, argues that the CUNY settlement demonstrates the futility of going to OCR and that going to court is more likely to produce “a clearly delineated and productive result,” such as punitive and compensatory fines. As of late May, at least 14 colleges and universities are facing lawsuits over their handling of antisemitism on campus since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

As long as college administrators are allowed to ignore antisemitism on campus and as long as OCR and other government institutions fall short in punishing Jew-hatred, antisemitism will continue to plague Jewish students.

The post Universities Must Be Forced to Address Antisemitism first appeared on

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Candace Owens Claims US ‘Being Held Hostage by Israel,’ Suggests Zionists Killed JFK

Candace Owens speaks at CPAC on March 2, 2023. Photo: Lev Radin via Reuters Connect

Political commentator Candace Owens claimed on Friday that the US is being held “hostage” by Israel and suggested that AIPAC, the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US, was behind the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy.
“It seems like our country is being held hostage by Israel,” Owens, a right-wing provocateur, said during the opening segment of her YouTube show, where she interviewed far-left commentator Briahna Joy Gray.
“I’m going to get in so much trouble for that. I don’t care,” Owens lamented.
Gray, who was the guest for this episode, was recently fired from The Hill‘s TV show, Rising, after aggressively cutting off and rolling her eyes at the sister of an Israeli hostage who said that Hamas sexually assaulted women during the terror group’s Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel and that people should believe those women. Gray, who claimed her firing was politically motivated, had repeatedly cast doubt on the sexual violence perpetrated against Israeli women during the Hamas-led onslaught.
However, Owens said that part of the reasons she was addressing the subject was that people were being fired because they were “not happy … when an innocent Palestinian kid dies” or for “critiquing a foreign nation.”
Also on Friday’s show, Owens claimed US Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was “wading into some dangerous waters” when, during an interview with host Tucker Carlson, he spoke about how effective the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is at lobbying members of Congress and suggested the group should have to register as a foreign agent that is acting on behalf of Israel.
The reason it was dangerous, Owens said, was because “we know there was once a president that wanted to make AIPAC register, and he ended up shot … so Thomas Massie better be careful.”
Owens was referencing the fact that Kennedy wanted the American Zionist Council, a lobby group, to register as a foreign agent. However, there is no evidence the group had anything to do with Kennedy’s assassination.
Owens and The Daily Wire, which was co-founded by conservative and Jewish political commentator Ben Shapiro, parted ways after Owens flirted with antisemitic conspiracy theories for a number of months, especially following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.
“In all communities there are gangs. In the black community we’ve got the Bloods, we’ve got the Crips. Well, imagine if the Bloods and the Crips were doing horrific things, murdering people, controlling people with blackmail, and then every time a person spoke out about it, the Bloods and the Crips would call those people racist,” Owens said while still at The Daily Wire. “What if that is what is happening right now in Hollywood if there is just a very small ring of specific people who are using the fact that they are Jewish to shield themselves from any criticism. It’s food for thought, right? … this appears to be something that is quite sinister.”
Additionally, after getting into a spat with an outspoken and controversial rabbi, Shmuley Boteach, she said, “Are you going to kill me? Are you going to kill me, because I refuse to kowtow to you, and I think it’s weird that you and your daughter are promoting and selling sex toys, that’s why I deem you an ‘unholy rabbi?’”
“You gross me out. You disgust me. I am a better person than you, and I do not fear you,” Owens continued.
The list of controversial incidents involving Owens continued to grow longer with time. In one case, she “liked” an X/Twitter post that promoted the antisemitic “blood libel.” The post read, in response to Boteach, “Rabbi, are you drunk on Christian blood again?”
The “blood libel” is a medieval anti-Jewish slur which falsely claims that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children in their religious rituals.

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