A group of national-religious rabbis from the West Bank issued a public letter on Wednesday excoriating a local winery for hosting LGBTQ events on its premises, declaring such events a threat to traditional values.
The rabbis — who represent a number of settlements located within the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, such as Bet El and Shvut Rachel — contended that the issue was “about spiritual assimilation and serious violation of the values of the Jewish family.”
“We must try our best to prevent such events, and therefore we appeal to all parties to do everything in their power to prevent the recurrence of such cases in the future,” they wrote, adding that “we will all be strengthened by the values of modesty and purity that distinguish us, by virtue of which we receive divine providence and daily protection.”
Psagot Winery CEO Yaakov Berg took issue with the rabbis’ protest, telling Radio 103FM that “this was a religious-style LGBT event. I am very surprised, with all due respect to everyone, we live in the State of Israel, I do not go into what is going on with a person who rents the hall from me and don’t ask questions.”
Also responding to the letter, Yesh Atid lawmaker Yorai Lahav Hertzanu tweeted that the incident showed that “the State of Israel is at a crossroads: [there is a choice between] the Lapid government that will protect the independence of the court and make sure that everyone has an equal and full place, or the Netanyahu-Ben Gvir government that will attack law enforcement systems, infringe on individual freedoms and spread fear and hatred against people just because of who they are,” referring to Kahanist lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Lawmaker Ram Shefa, who is chair of the Labor Party caucus, also condemned the letter, tweeting “we have removed this ideology from the steering wheel in the last year – the formation of the next government is a battle for our lives here in the country.”
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This is not the first time that the winery has become the center of controversy. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris inadvertently served wine produced there during a Passover seder she hosted alongside Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff this April.
Psagot notably named a wine after former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who declared in 2019 that Israel’s West Bank settlements were “not per se inconsistent with international law.” Pompeo became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit an Israeli settlement in the West Bank when he visited Psagot, where he declared products from the settlements can be labeled “Made in Israel” in a major policy shift.