Gay rights activists were assaulted at a Habayit Hayehudi election event in Haifa on Wednesday after one of them unfurled a gay pride flag and began heckling party leader Naftali Bennett during his speech.
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Lilach Ben David, a gay rights activist from Haifa, said she was assaulted at the event and detained by police, adding that the police “refused to detain those who punched me in the face and all over my body in their effort to shut me up.”
The identity of the attackers is not known.
Social activist Na’ama Lazimi says that the group came to the event to ask questions and engage in dialogue over their differences of opinion with the party, which has come out squarely against gay marriage.
“When three members of our group were ejected even before the event began, we understood that they would not allow us to ask questions, so we decided to state our message in a forthright manner,” she told Haaretz.
“We didn’t expect to be met with violence and curses. It just goes to show that the party slogan that ‘we are a home for everyone’ is meaningless, and that the party represents one sector in Israeli society — arrogant, white, Ashkenazi, national-religious males.”
Habayit Hayehudi responded that it was the left that was responsible for the violence at the event. “We call on the leaders of the left to denounce the violence of their activists before it is too late and the violence of the left causes irreversible damage.”
The party said that its leader, Bennett, is currently the country’s only politician who is being advised by security officials not to attend events where left-wing activists are present. “The left has not learned a thing from the murder of [Yitzhak] Rabin and the incitement that it is carrying out at the moment will have harsh consequences while Bougie and Tzipi [Zionist Union leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni] are silent.”
Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995 following a wave of incitement against him by right-wing activists and politicians.
Habayit Hayehudi has been a particular target of gay rights activists since a number of leading party figures expressed their opposition to gay marriage in a party video.
Last month, some 20 activists unfurled gay rights flags at a Tel Aviv event at which Habayit Hayehudi candidate Ronen Shoval was speaking. In response, supporters of Shoval, who is one of the founders of the right-wing Im Tirtzu movement, unfurled Israeli flags and broadcast music to drown out the protesters who began shouting. Several days before the event Shoval had expressed opposition to a proposed law that would permit gay marriage in Israel.
Ben David said that she and other gay activists intend to continue attending every open event of Habayit Hayehudi to make their voice heard. “We will be at every venue and we won’t let them off the hook even if they become violent and arrogant,” she said.