Editor’s note: Washington Blade International News Editor traveled to Israel in 2016 as part of a trip that A Wider Bridge organized.
Nearly a dozen LGBTI activists from Israel traveled to D.C. last week.
A Wider Bridge — an organization that seeks to “create equality in Israel by expanding LGBTQ inclusion in Israel, and equality for Israel by cultivating constructive engagement with Israel” — organized the trip that took place from Sept. 19-26. The activists who traveled to the nation’s capital include:
Abarbanel, chair of Havruta, a group that promotes LGBTI acceptance among
Orthodox Jewish people
Alexander, executive director of Ma’avarim, an Israeli transgender advocacy
Bailer, chair of Tehila, an organization for parents of LGBTI people
Open House for Pride and Tolerance Chair Eran Globus
of Bat Kol, an organization for queer Jewish women
Ohad Hizki, chief executive officer of the Aguda, the Israeli National LGBTQ Task Force
Krispin of the TLV LGBT Sports Club in Tel Aviv
Avihoo Mizan, chief executive officer of the Tel Aviv Municipal LGBTQ Center
Newman, chief executive officer of Israel Gay Youth
Shmilo, chair of the Israel AIDS Task Force
Pride House Chair Arine Szyboesky
The delegation while in D.C. met with U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.). They also met with Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus Executive Director Shawn Gaylord and his colleague, Rina Patel.
Dana Beyer, co-founder of Gender Rights Maryland, and Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin of Congregation Bet Mishpachah are among those who attended a reception with the delegation that took place at Sonoma Wine Bar in Capitol Hill. The Stonewall Inn is among the places the activists visited in New York before they arrived in D.C.
“Our mission was a huge success,” Alan Schwartz, chair of A Wider Bridge’s board of directors, told the Washington Blade on Wednesday. “By the end of the 8-day mission, both the AWB and the Israeli LGBTQ delegations united in a spirit of openness and optimism.”
“We gained a mutual understanding that our diversity is the source of our strength,” added Schwartz. “And we made deep friendships.”
Uncertainty over Israel election overshadows trip
The trip began two days after Israel held its second general election in less than a year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party appears to have lost its majority in the Israeli Knesset. President Reuven Rivlin last week asked Netanyahu to try and form a coalition government with Blue and White, a centrist party led by Benny Gantz who ran against him.
remains under investigation for corruption. A hearing that could potentially lead
to his indictment began
on Wednesday in Jerusalem.
is not a man who gives up very easily,” Omer Nahmany, an LGBT activist
from Tel Aviv who is a member of the leftist Democratic Union coalition, told
the Washington Blade during an interview after the election. “Just like
Trump, he’s using the office (of prime minister) as a sanctuary from
Nahmany told the Blade that Gantz talked about LGBTI rights during the campaign.
in April met
with Globus and other LGBTI activists ahead of this year’s first general
Netanyahu in June appointed Amir Ohama, an openly gay member of the Knesset who is a member of Likud, as Israeli’s interim justice minister. Netanyahu in July criticized Education Minister Rafi Peretz over his public support of so-called conversion therapy, but the current prime minister continues to face criticism over the lack of progress on LGBTI-specific issues in the Knesset.
Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians also continue to spark sharp criticism.
“The most important thing we can say about the question, ‘What does the future hold for LGBTQ rights in Israel after this election?’ Is that the community and all who support our basic rights are tired of waiting and have had enough of promises,” Jerusalem Pride House for Pride and Tolerance Executive Director Ofer Erez told the Blade last month. “We want see change. We need to see it in order to believe in any leader who wants our support.”
Published at Wed, 02 Oct 2019 23:04:07 +0000