Planned Concert by Popular Gay Israeli Singer Sparks Row in West Bank Settlement

Ivri Lider on being called a 'declared pervert': 'I’d like to say that doesn’t hurt me, but it’s not true.'

Ziv Sadeh

A concert by the openly gay singer Ivri Lider planned for Elkana is causing a clash over values in the West Bank settlement. A billboard advertising Lider’s show has been sprayed with the graffiti ‘desecration,’ the news website Walla reports, and a resident family dubbed the singer a “declared pervert (according to our holy Torah)” in a post disseminated on a settlement chatroom.

On the other hand, the council head and a number of residents in the predominantly observant town have demonstrated revulsion for the homophobic responses, and stood firm in defense of Lider and his show.

“The town does not identify with statements like those,” Assaf Mintzer, head of the Elkana council, told Haaretz, adding that the graffiti writer is “not a resident of Elkana.”

The Elkana settlement in the West Bank.

“Using the word ‘pervert’ for a guest coming to the town is grating and wrong,” according to a post on an internet forum. Another poster wrote, “It is very sad to see darkness, racism and hate disseminated,” while another wrote, “Hatred and boycotts are not the way we want to educate our children.”

Mintzer added, “The person who expressed his opinion on the community forum is only one voice among a great many residents who are in favor of the show. The young are excited and have been buying tickets in droves. Elkana is a town with a religious character and the purpose of the shows in the ‘Face to Face’ festival, in which Lider will be appearing with Hanan Ben-Ari, is to bring a message of tolerance and unity by bringing unobservant and observant people together. We do not relate to the political bent, worldview or sexual mores of the artists, only to their music.”

On his Facebook page, Lider said he too had read on Walla that he’s a “declared pervert.” “I would have liked to say that doesn’t hurt me at all, but that’s completely untrue. It’s still astonishing and weird to hear people thinking and talking that way, revolted by anything that isn’t necessarily like them. I’m sure that most of the people in Elkana are tolerant and love music and are anticipating the show as much as I am. I will show up and perform happily for them.”

Elkana resident Sharon Avrahami posted in response, “Thank you very much for coming after all and again a thousand pardons that somebody in ‘my turf’ hurt you.”