The Silence of the Likud Lambs

The supposed liberal MKs and cabinet ministers who are quick to post photos from pride parade are the very ones who remain silent when Kahanists attack the LBGT community

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FILE Photo: Participants hold a placard as they take part in the annual Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, July 21, 2016.
FILE Photo: Participants hold a placard as they take part in the annual Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, July 21, 2016.Credit: Thomas Coex/AFP
Irit Rosenblum

They could be called “the silent ones,” those politicians who speak loftily about principles but who fall silent when those principles are threatened. The most prominent of them today are the Likud MKs and cabinet ministers about whom it could be said, “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.”

I’m talking about all of the supposed liberals who post pictures on Facebook from pride parades and speak passionately about LGBT rights, but were struck dumb when Benjamin Netanyahu opened up the Knesset to a bunch of racist and homophobic Kahanists who encourage persecution of the gay community. “The bottom of the barrel of the human race, who want only to spread their filth,” Benzi Gopstein of Otzma Yehudit described the pride parade participants.

>>Read more: The Kahanists and the homophobes: The two parties no one wants but Netanyahu needs  ■ Why racist Rabbi Meir Kahane is roiling Israeli politics 30 years after his death | Explained ■  How Netanyahu revived Jewish supremacism and paved its way to power | Opinion 

This is not a group that politely expresses opposition to same-sex marriage, but one that openly peddles hatred and violence. Itamar Ben-Gvir rushed to defend a lunatic who expressed joy over the murder of Shira Banki. Gopstein leads the violent activists of Lehava, who march in Jerusalem shouting, “Gays out! Arabs are the enemy of the people!” And Baruch Marzel hands out gloves to the police officers guarding the pride parade, lest they, god-forbid, touch the LGBT filth.

Not everything can be explained away by the need for a “technical bloc.” These are immoral people actively working to destroy Israeli democracy, to promote violence against minorities and to prevent families from living their lives as they choose.

And what do we hear from the ruling party? Silence. Silence from Amir Ohana, the proud gay Likud representative. Silence from Sharren Haskel, a co-chairwoman of the Knesset’s LGBT caucus. Silence from the “liberal” Tzahi Hanegbi. Silence from Nir Barakt, former mayor of Jerusalem, where Shira Banki was murdered. Silence from Miri Regev, Ofir Akunis and others who made sure to have their picture taken at a pride parade. Yuval Steinitz only mustered a feeble statement that he doesn’t identify with “some” of the positions of Otzma Yehudit. The silence of the Likud lambs.

This silence is dangerous because it’s a sign of things to come. Anyone who is silent today over Otzma Yehudit’s entry into the Knesset will remain silent when the time comes to discuss its entry into the coalition, when the laws its members propose are passed and when Jewish and democratic Israel is changed beyond recognition.

Anyone who thinks the fight against the moral pollution being spread by Otzma Yehudit is meant to be fought by the Arabs and the left alone is making a grave mistake. This contamination threatens to spread throughout Israeli society and to harm anyone who doesn’t fit in with the movement’s twisted values. First it will be the Arabs, then the LGBT community, leftists and women.

We cannot allow ourselves to grow accustomed to a situation in which Kahanist positions are part of the political discourse and persecution of LGBT people grants the persecutors a ticket into the Knesset. We cannot accept a situation in which a future coalition may be sustained by such people. We cannot allow the politicians to remain cloaked in silence.

Israelis must make clear to all their elected representatives and those who wish to be elected that there is a difference between broad and legitimate political discussion and incitement and hatred. We must insist that whoever wishes to form the next government not rely on the votes of the dangerous homophobic racists who, sadly, have nearly been assured entry into the next Knesset.

Irit Rosenblum, an attorney, is the founder and director of New Family.

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