Gay Tel Aviv mayoral candidate loses election to gay-friendly incumbent


Nitzan Horowitz

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was re-elected to a fourth five-year term on Tuesday, beating gay challenger Nitzan Horowitz who earned 41 percent of the vote.

Horowitz was the first openly gay candidate for mayor of a Middle Eastern city.

Tel Aviv’s LGBT population has grown in recent years and is currently estimated at 20 percent of the city’s 400,000 people. That includes quite a bit of immigration from Russia where gays and lesbians have been under attack since Vladimir Putin returned to office.

Horowitz’s left-leaning Meretz Party doubled its representation on the city council after Tuesday’s vote, but Huldai won after campaigning on how much he’s done for the LGBT community in his 15 years in office.

Among his accomplishments was publicly funding a LGBT community center. And during his term, Tel Aviv was voted best gay destination in a survey conducted by and American Airlines.

Below is a gay tourism ad filmed on the gay beach in Tel Aviv:

—  David Taffet

Arrests made in 4-year-old Tel Aviv LGBT Center rampage


Aguda Building in Tel Aviv where attack took place

Four people were arrested this week in connection with the 2009 shooting that left two dead and 15 injured at the Aguda, the LGBT community center in Tel Aviv.

According to The Jerusalem Post, one of those arrested is a gay activist who knew the motivation but did not share the information with police.

Police ruled this was not a hate crime but one of the suspects had a particular target who he thought was in the center at the time.

On Aug. 1, 2009, an armed man entered the Tel Aviv LBGT Center and killed counselor Nir Katz, 27, and straight ally Liz Trubeshi, 16. Two of those injured remain in wheelchairs. The murderer wore a stocking cap and escaped on a motorcycle.

The attack inspired candlelight vigils in Tel Aviv and around the world including in Dallas, where it caused Youth First Texas to look at its own security.

Members of Dallas’ Congregation Beth El Binah were particularly saddened by the attack because members had visited the center and met Katz during a trip to Israel earlier that year.

A gag order remains in the case so few details have been released. The Tel Aviv police department was given an unlimited budget to investigate the case and more than 1,000 people have been questioned. The arrests came two days before LGBT Pride in Tel Aviv.

—  David Taffet

Tel Aviv named world’s best gay travel destination

The Jaffa section of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a great gay travel destination and earlier this month, American Airlines and agreed voting it the world’s best gay travel destination.

The Israeli city received 43 percent of the vote. New York City came in second with 14 percent, Toronto 7 percent, Sao Paulo 6 percent, Madrid and London 5 percent each and New Orleans and Mexico City 4 per cent each.

No one voted for San Francisco, Amsterdam or Berlin?

Well, Tel Aviv is a very gay-friendly place. The city is backing their win with a big push to promote LGBT tourism called Tel Aviv Gay Vibe. And, according to the newspaper HaAretz, the Tel Aviv Pride Parade receives city funding, as does the city’s LGBT center.

While the country doesn’t have same-sex marriage, they don’t have Reform marriage or secular marriage either. So if you aren’t Orthodox, you leave the country to get married and Israel recognizes your wedding. That’s been going on since a gay member of the Knesset married his husband in Canada and came back and sued and won.

And “don’t ask, don’t tell?” Israel thought it was as dumb as we did but they did away with deferments while we were first implementing the policy. The result? Some of the hottest gay men and women in the world … and they know how to use an Uzi.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Flour Bluff, Navy DADT discharge, Israel

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A gay-straight alliance will be allowed temporarily at Flour Bluff ISD near Corpus Christi. We reported last week that all clubs had been banned from the school rather than allow a GSA. A resolution passed at a five-hour school district meeting that will allow the club temporarily.

2. A navy petty officer will be discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” after falling asleep in bed with another man. This will be the first DADT discharge since November. Although a repeal has been signed, the policy is still in place until all branches of the armed forces certify it as ready. That should happen in June. They were watching a movie and fell asleep on a twin bed, one under the covers, one over. A roommate of one walked in and reported the incident. No “homosexual conduct” was reported and the incident is being labeled an extreme overreaction.

3. While cities like Dallas are marketing themselves as a great gay destination, Israel is now going after that market as well. At an international tourism fair in Berlin, a delegation from Tel Aviv will invite LGBT tourists to visit their city. The city spent $94 million to promote tourism to the LGBT community last year. The effort will be expanded in 2011.

—  David Taffet

Israel appoints gay activist as labor court judge

(Dori Spivak) דורי ספיבק

While Israel’s executive branch has become quite conservative, it’s judicial branch always has been very liberal.

This week, LGBT rights activist Dori Spivak was appointed to the national labor court in Tel Aviv, according to the Israeli newspaper Ma’Ariv. While other openly gay judges have been appointed in the past, his appointment is being hailed as the first appointment of someone who has advocated for LGBT rights.

Spivak, a graduate of Harvard, is best known for serving as chairman of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. In 1997, he won a case in the Supreme Court that allowed Israeli television to air a program about gay teens.

Ma’Ariv, a moderate Israeli newspaper, opens its coverage of the appointment by saying, “The appointment of attorney Dori Spivak as judge to make waves.”

But the concerns the newspaper details have nothing to do with Spivak’s sexual orientation. They worry about his appointment to a court that has ruled in the past that a company doesn’t have a religion so that forbidding work on Sabbath is not relevant. They also voice concern over how he might rule on cases brought by settlers in the West Bank.

“Nevertheless, controversial political views should not disqualify a candidate for judicial office,” the newspaper concludes without mentioning anything about his sexual orientation.

All of Israel’s LGBT rights have been gained through the courts, including pension benefits for same-sex partners of military personnel, recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and adoption rights.

—  David Taffet

Tel Aviv shooting update: Killer may not have been ultra-Orthodox extremist

Last Saturday, over 50,000 people turned out for a demonstration in support of the LGBT community in Tel Aviv. The featured speaker was Israel’s president, Shimon Peres.

Peres has won the Nobel Peace Prize and founded the Peres Peace Center. Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards served on the board of directors until her death.

One 20-year old ultra-Orthodox man was arrested at the rally for posting terrorist threats against the LGBT community on line before the rally. According to Terry Stone, executive director of Center Link, the organization of community centers, the eight youth and one counselor reported hospitalized were expected to remain in the hospital for awhile for physical therapy.

Funds are being collected for the Tel Aviv center to help with the cost of mental health counseling, not just for those wounded, but for others in the community affected by the attack.

No progress in the investigation has been reported, however some evidence points to someone other than an ultra-Orthodox extremist, as is widely suspected. While someone who took the hate speech of the radical right to heart may have committed the crime, the murderer may not be a part of that community:

• The murderer was dressed in black, head to toe. Black reminds us of the ultra-Orthodox dress, but the Orthodox do not dress as the murderer was dressed.

• The murderer was quite accomplished in the use of his weapon. The ultra-Orthodox have a military exemption and, of all Israelis, are the least likely to be marksmen or even to be armed.

• While they speak hate about the LGBT community, there is little actual violence in and around the ultra-Orthodox community. Lots of shunning, but no stoning or beheading.

• The murderer escaped on motorcycle. The ultra-Orthodox don’t run around Tel Aviv on motorcycles.

— David Taffet

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Resource Center to host candlelight vigil Wednesday for victims of Tel Aviv shooting

Above is video from last night’s vigil in Washington, D.C. Below is an update from David Taffet. After the jump, read a full press release from Resource Center Dallas.

By David Taffet
A candlelight vigil for victims of the shooting at the LGBT community center in Tel Aviv, Israel, will be held at Resource Center Dallas at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5. The theme of the vigil is safety for LGBT youth, and it is sponsored by Resource Center Dallas, Congregation Beth El Binah, Fuse and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
“We are both saddened and angry that the GLBT Community Center in Tel Aviv was attacked this past weekend,” Resource Center Executive Director Mike McKay said in a statement. “As one of the largest GLBT community centers in the United States, Resource Center Dallas mourns the deaths of these young people and joins our colleagues around the world in calling for an end to violence against GLBT people everywhere.”
On Aug. 1, a masked gunman opened fire inside the Tel Aviv center during a youth group meeting, leaving two people dead and at least 11 injured.
A vigil in San Francisco on Monday night attracted about 100 people, according to organizer Lisa Geduldig. A vigil was also held at Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. on Monday night.
In Israel, the Masorti (Conservative) Movement is conducting an evening of “learning, song and reconciliation” in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Beersheba. Using Jewish texts and melodies to encourage discussion, the themes are unconditional love, tolerance and bridging the divides in society, according to a report in The Jerusalem Post.
The Post is reporting that three of four victims still being treated at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv are in stable but serious condition, and that one remains in a coma. Because they are minors, no names are being released. The reports of the number of people injured vary, but most say 11. Either the other seven have been released or they were sent to other area hospitals.
This week, many LGBT youth in Tel Aviv have had to come out to their parents because of the attacks — not only those injured, but also friends who heard of the attack, rushed to the hospital and spent the night there with their friends.
The Post reports that few parents were at the hospital that night because most did not know their children were gay. Although they had heard about the attack, they didn’t know their children might be among the victims.

—  John Wright