Emma Powys Maurice
Pinknews / February 22, 2021
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of “courting homophobes and racists” in a desperate bid to secure votes ahead of the upcoming election.
According to The Times of Israel, Israel’s longest serving prime minister is behind a merger of three far-right parties: Jewish Power, Religious Zionism, and the extreme anti-LGBT+ party Noam.
The last election saw Noam run on a primary focus of combatting LGBT+ acceptance in Israel, with a rhetoric that linked gay people with child trafficking, compared LGBT+ advocates to Nazis, and promised to make Israel “a normal nation”.
The party’s leader Avi Maoz has campaigned fiercely against all forms of LGBT+ rights in Israel, including same-sex adoption and IVF for same-sex couples.
On its own the ultra-Orthodox party would be unlikely to meet the threshold needed to enter the Knesset, but its chances are strengthened as part of a far-right bloc – which it’s been speculated will back Netanyahu in his bid to build a coalition.
Netanyahu drew heavy criticism when he employed a similar strategy in 2019, and his latest controversial coalition has attracted further concern.
“We are disturbed by reports of efforts to ensure that extremist parties cross the electoral threshold and make it into the Knesset,” said the Anti-Defamation League’s Israel office on Twitter.
“Assistance to mainstreaming them is a dangerous phenomenon which risks normalising racism in the Knesset and Israeli society.”
International commentators have been similarly appalled. According to Axios, the move is equivalent to a US president “cutting a deal” with the former KKK leader David Duke.
“Netanyahu and the ruling Likud party are legitimising a racist, xenophobic and homophobic fringe party in hopes that their right-wing bloc will reach a 61-seat majority,” warned Israeli correspondent Barak Ravid.
If the radical right-wing bloc manage to win at least 61 seats, Netanyahu will be dependent on them to form a coalition if he is to cling to power – potentially at the cost of LGBT+ rights in Israel.