LGBTQ groups are asking the Attorney General to probe Noam on the ‘blacklist’ of gay journalists

A prominent LGBTQ rights group called on Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara on Tuesday to investigate the far-right Noam party after it was revealed the party had prepared lists of prominent gay journalists.

Aguda – Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel called on Baharav-Miara to open a criminal investigation against Noam, saying the “blacklists” contravene laws to protect people from harassment and threats.

The lists “show that the party conducted surveillance and marked civilians based on their sexual identity or political positions,” Aguda said in a statement.

“We stand with the men and women in the media who were singled out for harm simply because of their identity,” the group said. “It is the right of each and every one of us not to feel exposed to the constant potential danger of the government.”

“We will not be silent and we will do everything for justice against those who incite against us,” said Aguda.

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Noam’s lists included dozens of gay television hosts, journalists, radio hosts and other television professionals working in the news and entertainment industries.

The lists were part of a 2019 internal document that appeared to outline the party’s perceived opponents in the media and civil society.

The lists were prepared for unknown reasons, according to Ynet, which first reported the lists on Thursday.

Noam openly embraces homophobic views and policies and ran with an anti-LGBTQ and anti-pluralist agenda as part of the Religious Zionism party ahead of the November 1 election, which delivered incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and the its far-right religious partners 64 seats in Israel’s 120-member Knesset.

Noam leader Avi Maoz will serve as deputy minister in the prime minister’s office, heading a unit tasked with Israel’s “Jewish national identity” in the incoming government led by Benjamin Netanyahu. Maoz has denounced female enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces and said he will work to close an army unit tasked with promoting equal opportunities for women in the military.

As part of the office of Jewish identity, Maoz is slated to take control of a unit of the Ministry of Education tasked with approving outside educational providers, which play a critical role in school programming. Especially prevalent in secular schools, these vendors cover a variety of topics, from sexual health to bar mitzvah preparation.

On Thursday, Ynet columnist Nadav Eyal released parts of Noam’s lists. It includes reporters and editors from some of Israel’s largest news organizations, including Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet, Haaretz, Channel 12, Channel 13 and public broadcaster Kan, as well as television personalities, some of whom have been open about their sexual orientation.

1/Publishing: מקר במוסף שבט אקיטוב בדעשון על “מסמכי תורדון” של מפנגעל. לבד מהרטוריקה הקיצוניט על ה’פוסט-מודרנה’, העבור הפשרות מקדות זיאוישסט-מודרנה’. Here is a table of homosexuals and homosexuals in communication. This is a well-known list, outside of the closet. מה כוואלי עבורה לגיטיטימיט של מפלגה מעצים לעשיט קזו?*אין*.

— נדב איל Nadav Eyal (@Nadav_Eyal) December 22, 2022

The report cited another part of the document that featured photos and descriptions of “far-left women” active in non-governmental organizations who the party said were involved in investigations led by the army’s gender unit in the army

The party said that “continuous monitoring of [the unit’s] activities between 2001 and 2013 reveals the involvement of the following researchers in [the unit’s] studies.”

The party described the women as part of a “secret team” within the army unit and denounced a “radical feminist” takeover of the military.

Another part of the document presented by Eyal exposed the “takeover” by “leftist” organizations of offices such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Justice.

The organizations listed include the New Israel Fund, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), the Israel Democracy Institute, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, and the Tali Education Fund, which runs the largest pluralistic Jewish studies program in Israel.

MPs Simcha Rothman and Orit Strock at the opening of the Knesset summer session in the Knesset Assembly Hall, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on May 9, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In addition to Noam’s discrimination against the LGBTQ community, the far-right party Religious Zionism has demanded legislation that would allow businesses to refuse service to certain customers based on their religious conscience.

The legislative demand is part of Religious Zionism’s coalition agreement with Likud. Although coalition agreements are not legally binding, should the incoming coalition adopt the bill, it is expected to pass.

The proposed legislation states that discrimination would be permitted “when it is done because of the religious beliefs of the person whose occupation is to provide a public product or service or operate a public place.”

It would not apply if the product or service was essential and no reasonable alternative exists, and it would not apply to state providers of products and services.

The lawsuits sparked a storm of criticism on Sunday when MP Orit Strock publicly stated that doctors should be able to refuse treatment to patients over religious objections, as long as other doctors are able and willing to offer the same treatment.

That same day, MP Simcha Rothman made similar comments, stating that if a hotel wanted to refuse service to gay people on religious grounds, it would have the right to do so. “An entrepreneur can do whatever he wants in his business. He created the business and he doesn’t owe anybody anything,” Rothman told public broadcaster Kan.