The gay community is unhappy with Tzipi Livni's decision to place Maj. Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern, a former chief education officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in fourth place on her Hatnuah party's Knesset slate.
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Members of the community recall that in May 2001, he closed the IDF newspaper Bamahane for two weeks after it ran a cover story on a reserve colonel who revealed he was homosexual. Since his placement on the list was announced, there has been an intensive social media campaign aimed at getting homosexuals and lesbians to refrain from voting for the new party.
On Thursday, Stern presented his side of the story on his Facebook page.
"Every couple of years, the issue of my attitude toward the gay community comes up, based on the closing of Bamahane in 2001, when I served as chief education officer," he wrote. "Bamahane was indeed closed for a short time after it featured on its cover a story about a senior officer who had come out of the closet.
"I want to clarify that the problem was solely with the timing of the story, which appeared in the edition of Bamahane that was published on the eve of Memorial Day. I thought that in that edition, it would have been worthy to run a story related to the fallen, their families, and their legacy," he wrote.
Stern was responding to a post on his Facebook page that asked whether he would act the same way today. The post also asked Stern to clarify his positions regarding equal rights for the gay community, including same-sex marriage and the right to adopt. Stern did not address these issues in his response.
Stern is not the only politician in the sights of the gay community. Remarks made against homosexuality by Yesh Atid's No. 2, Rabbi Shai Piron, and by Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, who broke off from Shas to start his own party, Am Shalem, are being circulated in blogs and on Facebook.
In response, Piron called it "farcical" to make use of things that he said or wrote a decade ago, in which he referred to homosexuality as a "correctable problem" and a "moral failing." He conceded that he would not express himself the same way today. "I've learned a thing or two over the past 10 years; I've matured," he told the Mako website last month.