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LGBTQ+ Groups in Israel Respond to War

Hamas militants launched surprise attack on Saturday

Michael Lavers | Washington Blade

Courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association

LGBTQ+ rights groups in Israel have rallied to support to those who have been impacted by their country’s war against Hamas that began Saturday.

Hila Peer, chair of the Aguda, the Association for LGBTQ+ Equality in Israel, on Monday said her organization and other Israeli LGBTQ+ rights groups have launched an “operation to take in people” who have been evacuated from communities in southern Israel that are near the Gaza Strip. The Aguda has also encouraged anyone to reach out if they want to donate food or equipment to members of the Israel Defense Forces or offer “a listening ear.”



“We are here for each other,” reads a post to the Aguda’s Facebook page. “Let’s not go through this alone.”

“We’re keeping safe, trying to do everything we can to help our friends in reserves right now and people in active service,” Peer told the Washington Blade.

Hoshen, an advocacy group that works in secular Israeli schools, on its website also encouraged its members to donate food and equipment and host evacuees from southern Israel. Hoshen, like the Aguda, has also pledged to help Israelis who the war has directly impacted.

“Our role as a community is to stand together, hand in hand and heart to heart, to help, assist, support and encourage them,” said Hoshen.

Maya Arbel, executive director of Ma’avarim, a transgender rights group, on Tuesday said she and her colleagues are cooking meals for IDF soldiers and collecting donations. 

“[During] these times, it’s crucial for the transgender community in Israel to be part of Israeli society and contribute to civic efforts, fostering a sense of unity with the hope and goal of coming together and improving our situation during this crisis,” Arbel told the Blade.

Arbel said Ma’avarim is also working to ensure trans people continue to have access to health care and other basic needs during the war.

“The transgender community in emergency situations are especially vulnerable, as not every space is accommodating to transgender identities, and those who rely on medical resources may be marginalized due to the emergency situation,” said Arbel. “These days of chaos emphasize the importance of preparedness and know-how for aid and calmness.”

A Wider Bridge — a U.S.-based organization that seeks to build “a movement of LGBTQ+ people and allies with a strong interest in and commitment to supporting Israel and its LGBTQ+ communities” — is accepting donations on its website that it will send to Israeli advocacy groups. 

Hamas, which the U.S. and Israel have designated a terrorist organization, on Saturday launched a surprise attack against communities in southern Israel from Gaza.

The Israeli government has said more than 1,200 people have been killed, including at least 260 people who Hamas militants murdered at an all-night music festival in a kibbutz near the border between Israel and Gaza. The Israeli government also says more than 3,000 people have been injured in the country since the war began and Hamas militants kidnapped at least 150 others.

Hamas rockets have reached Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ben Gurion Airport and other locations in central and southern Israel. The AP reports IDF forces and Hezbollah, another militant group, have exchanged fire across the Israeli-Lebanese border.

The Palestinian Health Ministry on its website says Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have killed 1,055 people and injured 5,184 others. The Israeli government has cut electricity and water to the territory and has stopped food and fuel shipments.

“As a community, we stand with the people of Israel and condemn those who choose terror and torture over peace,” said Congregation Bet Mishpachah, an LGBTQ+ synagogue in D.C., on Tuesday in a statement sent to the Blade. “For many, Israel not only represents the homeland of the Jewish people, but also stands out as a beacon of freedom, hope and acceptance for LGBTQ+ Jews and non-Jews alike in the Middle East and around the world.”

Rabbi Jake Singer-Beilin joined D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Eliav Benjamin, the deputy chief of mission for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, among thousands of others, at a prayer vigil that took place at Adas Israel Congregation in Northwest D.C. on Tuesday.

“We recognize the necessity for the people and State of Israel’s right to defend themselves against groups who wish to take away those freedoms and seek the total annihilation of the Jewish people,” said Bet Mishpachah in its statement. “Our hearts mourn the loss of innocent lives in Gaza as well.”

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson is among those outside of Israel who have publicly responded to the war.

“The loss of life unfolding in the Middle East is heartbreaking and the human rights violations are appalling,” she said on Monday in a thread on her X account.

“Hamas killed hundreds of Israeli civilians over the weekend in a terrorist attack,” added Robinson. “And now countless more Palestinian and Israeli people are dying as the violence escalates while Jewish, Arab and Muslim people in the U.S. and around the world fear backlash and hate-motivated crimes.”

West Hollywood (Calif.) Mayor Sepi Shyne, a lesbian woman who was born in Iran, on Saturday condemned “the attacks by Hamas and the terror groups from Gaza on Israel and her people” and stressed the U.S. “stands with the people of Israel as they once again bravely face horrific violence.”

“As someone who has experienced this kind of terror and violence, these actions never lead to peace and my heart goes out to both the Israeli and Palestinian civilians caught in this horrible conflict,” she added in her statement. “Israel has the right to defend itself and this violence must be universally condemned.”

Georges Azzi, co-founder of Helem, a Lebanese LGBTQ+ rights group, on Monday used the hashtag #IStandWithHumanity in his own tweet.

“You can support Palestinians and their right to end occupation and not support Hamas, you can advocate for Palestinian rights without endorsing Hezbollah,” said Azzi. “You can condemn terrorism and the killing of civilians and still believe in one’s right to resist. These stances are not mutually exclusive.” 

Hasan Kilani, a Jordanian Palestinian queer activist, on Wednesday expressed concern about LGBTQ+ people who cannot leave Gaza.

“There is no exit for LGBTQ+ individuals from Gaza to leave as Israel bombed all exits for Gazans,” Kilani told the Blade. “Israel must allow those who want to escape the bombing to do so. That’s the minimum we can ask.” 

The National LGBT Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: https://nationallgbtmediaassociation.com/



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