The following is most of an article in Ynet News, Sept. 5, by Merav Crystal, on the Meretz youth movement’s protest against vice premier Peres for his support of the Shas party petition against the gay pride parade in Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, spiritual leader of NYC’s gay and lesbian synagogue (Beth Simchat Torah), is a member of the Meretz USA rabbinic advisory council. Also, the first openly gay politicians elected to the Knesset and to city councils, were candidates of the Meretz-Yahad party.
The members of Meretz’s youth movement and the “Our Colors” movement (Meretz’s gay youth movement) protested Tuesday afternoon outside the office of Vice Premier Shimon Peres, chanting “Peres, Peres, don’t worry, we will soon see you in drag,” and “Peres, Peres is a loser, Israel is not Iran.” The reason for their protest was … that Peres signed Shas’ petition against the World Pride parade in Jerusalem.
About 15 people participated in the demonstration. Yoav Sivan, the coordinator of the Meretz gay youth movement and a member of the International Socialist Youth Organization, said that Peres cannot aspire to be the president of an entire nation when he is ignoring such an important part of it. [He is mentioned as a leading candidate to succeed President Katsav.]
“Peres’ remarks are outrageous,” he said. “Only last year, several youths were stabbed during a parade that is important to anyone in the country who cares about human rights. We will not give in to Peres’ wish of putting us back in the closet.”
Dror Mizrachi, 17, from Herzliya, chairman of the Our Colors movement, said that “Peres signed the petition at Rabbi Ovadia’s house as one of the leading candidates for the presidency… It appears that he is selling the freedom of expression in Israel for the position. Again, he is selling himself in favor of deals.”
Uri Zaki, chairman of Meretz’s youth movement, said: “Peres is falsely perceived as the one of the leading Israelis for peace. The definition of peace is also open-mindedness, liberalism, human rights and innovativeness.”
“When he signed the petition against the pride parade in Jerusalem during another futile race for the presidency, he proved that he stands by the side of the conservatives who do not want to put Israel in the 21st century, but in Meah Shearim or in Tehran. We do not want Peres to enjoy prestige he is not worthy of. It is a parade of an open society, and Peres cannot be the number one citizen in such a nation.”
Some teen members of Hadash’s youth movement, including 19-year-old Omri Evron, also participated in the demonstration.
“We have enough reasons to protest against Peres,” Evron said. “But his deed is enough for us to be here today. The pride parade is an important way for us to fight for the equality in our society, and we will take part in it as we take part in the Earth Day events, in the International Women’s Day events and any other day that notes the discrimination of any minority in Israel.”
Knesset Member Avshalom Vilan (Meretz-Yahad) expressed his support of the demonstration of the Meretz teens. “The gay community is an important part of Israeli society. It is sad to see how the vice premier prefers to make political deals at the expense of the call for tolerance.”
Shortly after the end of the demonstration, former Meretz MK Ilan Ghilon also expressed his support, saying: “I have so many opinions about Peres, it is best I do not express all of them. As for the parade, I support it. March, march, move, move it.”