Haredi Web Site: Put T.A. Gay Club Chiefs on Trial for Murder

National Gay Association: Ignorant slander of this kind can lead to committing further hate crimes.

Under the headline, "Put the club's directors on trial for the murder!" the ultra-Orthodox Web site Tsofar last week published a piece about the shooting attack at a gay and lesbian community center in Tel Aviv last month.

It complained about "the acts that were committed against minors between the walls of this club for the depraved" and pointed an accusatory finger at the club and its directors, as evidenced by the headline.

The article was signed by author Yisrael Artzi and quoted a letter that was sent to Tsofar and to Yitzhak Kadman, the director of the National Council for the Child, asking the latter to examine the activities taking place at the club.

The letter on which the article is based concludes with the following words: "Many citizens who are fed up with the licentious and immoral behavior expect the legal authorities to bring to trial the directors of the club where the murder took place for the crimes they committed."

(In conversation, Kadman confirmed he had received the letter but pointed out that the writer had brought no evidence to substantiate his accusations and that therefore there was no point in carrying out an investigation).

Attorney Eran Lev, representing the National Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Bisexual Association, has demanded that Tsofar retract its accusations and pay the association compensation of NIS 500,000.

"Ignorant and obscure slander of this kind can lead to committing further hate crimes against my clients and against members of the gay community in Israel," he wrote.

Artzi is unfazed. He has been working for Tsofar since its inception four years ago and says he does not regret the publication of the article. He said he has no idea who wrote the letter, which was sent by email.

"Perhaps he is scared for his safety," he ventured. The manager of the site, Yehuda Stern, refused to respond.

Artzi also volunteered his own opinion about homosexuality.

"I want to ask you a question," he said. "Would you be proud to get it in the ass? These perverts take everything out into the streets, to the general public. A child, whether he is secular or religious, should not know that they exist. They are worse than animals. Even the animals know that this is not nice, not suitable. Would you like to live like that? To my great regret, I can't stop you but I can demand that the public sector should not be at your disposal and certainly that you should not defile the holy city of Jerusalem."

Artzi acts unworried about the pending lawsuit against him.

"No problem ... We'll deal with it and they will have to deal with themselves. I received a letter and I published it as it was. To come and accuse the ultra-Orthodox, as they did at first ... I think they are the ones who need to stand opposite an execution squad."

An execution squad?

"I am not a hangman nor a murderer. Whoever does it, and whoever did it, was them - and the president of this country of perverts, that is the state president, who didn't say a word about all the other murders of the last few days."

According to legal analyst Moshe Negbi, the contents of the letter on the site constitute incitement, on the face of it.

"It is a shame that this kind of incitement is coming from the ultra-Orthodox because the ultra-Orthodox themselves are sometimes the victims of clear racist incitement" he said. "In my opinion, there is room for an investigation on the subject. The problem is that the law against incitement is very narrow and talks about incitement on the basis of religion, race, color or national-ethnic origin. It does not contain a specific ban on incitement against homosexuals." However, Negbi says that it is possible to act by using the clause in the law referring to inciting hate crimes.

"The attorney general also has the authority to put people on trial for libel," Negbi said. "And I believe it is his duty to protect the association against this kind of libel."