Netanyahu puts extremist homophobic politician in charge of Israel’s Jewish identity


One of the Knesset’s far-right politicians, who holds non-pluralist Jewish views and anti-LGBT, sexist and anti-Arab positions, will be the next “Jewish identity” head of government, following an agreement signed Sunday with suspected Prime Minister future minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Avi Maoz, the sole legislator from the fringe Noam party, will be appointed deputy minister and head of a Jewish identity authority to be established, which will be housed under the prime minister’s office.

While Netanyahu’s Likud shared only partial details of the deal on Sunday evening, the party said one of the organizations to be transferred under Maoz’s authority is Nativ, which is responsible for processing Jewish immigration to Israel from the former Soviet Union. -Union.

Among Maoz’s radical positions, he has said he wants to limit eligibility for Jewish immigration to Israel by removing the ability for grandchildren of Jews who are not Jews themselves to qualify under Israel’s Law of Return. Many immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union obtain their citizenship under the so-called grandfather clause, and handing over the office that processes their applications to Maoz may affect their processing.

The coalition deal with Noam, and the resonant responsibilities and post of deputy minister for Maoz – announced just days after Likud agreed to make far-right provocateur Itamar Ben Gvir as police minister with expanded powers – bring Netanyahu one step closer to shaping Israel’s hardest government ever, consisting of only right-wing, far-right, religious and ultra-Orthodox parties.

Shortly after retaining his seat in the Knesset on Nov. 1, as part of his Noam party’s alliance with Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit and the Religious Zionism party — an alliance set up by Netanyahu for political expediency — Maoz said that the Law of Return, which makes Jews eligible for Israeli citizenship, was misused to “bring Gentiles to Israel.” (Maoz was first elected to the Knesset in 2021.)

“It has been proven once again that the Law of Return, the purpose of which is to perpetuate the responsibility of the State of Israel to the Jews of the world, is absurdly used to bring Gentiles to the State of Israel and to systematically the percentage of Jews in the State of Israel,” Maoz said, as quoted by the Ynet news site. “It’s time to fix this thing, and that’s what we’ll do,” he promised.

Noam MK Avi Maoz exits the president’s residence in Jerusalem, November 10, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In addition to defining the grandfather clause, Maoz and religious political allies are pushing to separate non-Orthodox conversion to Judaism from acceptable proof of Jewishness for immigration.

Maoz has also said he wants to increase Jewish education in Israeli public schools and cut unspecified “progressive study programs,” including undefined “gender studies.”

His Noam party also ran campaign ads ahead of the November 1 election claiming that Arab teachers in Jewish schools were helping to erase Jewish identity, a position condemned as racist by some Jewish lawmakers.

As for women, Maoz has called for an “immediate” closure of the Israel Defense Forces’ gender affairs department, which promotes women’s place in the military.

He opposes women in combat positions, has called for an end to egalitarian prayer at Jerusalem’s Western Wall and supports a religious party-backed proposal to legalize gender segregation at public events.

Maoz campaigned for “strengthening the Jewish character of the State of Israel” through stricter national observance of Shabbat, strengthening the monopoly of the Orthodox rabbinate over religious life, injecting religious law into wider society, and promoting “family values”. He and his Noam party hold a number of homophobic positions.

Noam first stormed the political scene in 2019 with a series of provocative highway billboards and video ads with the slogan “Israel chooses to be normal.” The party claims that the LGBT community has “forced its agenda” on the rest of Israeli society, which believes in a “normal” (heteronormative) family structure.

Noam party billboards outside Tel Aviv reading ‘Israel chooses to be normal’. (courtesy)

It has also likened LGBT and Reform Jews to the Nazis. A 2019 campaign video compares Reform Jews, left-wing activists and gay rights advocates to Nazis and Palestinian suicide bombers, saying they all want to “destroy us”.

Maoz himself has recently advocated stopping Pride parades, reinstating “mother” and “father” on government forms in place of the newly adopted “parent”, and enabling now-banned and largely debunked conversion therapy.

Noam’s spiritual leader, the prominent national-Haredi rabbi Tzvi Tau, has been a leading voice in the national religious community against LGBT acceptance. In 2017, he wrote that homosexuality is the “ugliest aberration, which breaks down family life… and contradicts the first basis of human existence”.

Tau has recently been accused of a spate of sexual assaults, reportedly going back decades.

Screenshot of video of Dorit, one of two women accusing Rabbi Tzvi Tau of rape, November 13, 2022. (Channel 13. Used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Act)

Lawmakers from the outgoing coalition denounced the deal signed on Sunday between Noam and Likud.

“According to Netanyahu and Avi Maoz, from now on there are class A Jews and class B Jews,” Yesh Atid said in a statement, while Labor MK Gilad Kariv, a Reform rabbi, called the appointment a “slap in the face.” secular people, traditionalist Jews, women and gays.

“MK Maoz will find that the majority of the public will rise up against his party’s attempts to proselytize and incite hatred,” Kariv tweeted.

The reform movement in Israel also spoke out strongly against the coalition agreement.

“We remember the supposed head of the [Jewish identity] authority that there is more than one way to be a Jew or a Jew. Avi Maoz, who got a job with excessive funding from the [presumed] the prime minister-elect will not decide what those roads are for millions of Jews in Israel and the diaspora,” the movement said in a statement.

Likud’s deal with Noam is the second in ongoing coalition negotiations, following a partial agreement with Otzma Yehudit to appoint Ben Gvir as Minister of National Security, and to assign the party two additional ministers, a deputy minister and two commission heads.

Religious Zionism, united Torah Judaism and Shas have yet to sign an agreement with Likud.

Staff from Judah Ari Gross, Jacob Magid, and Times of Israel contributed to this report.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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