Israeli activists hang LGBT flag on chief rabbi's office in protest at anti-gay remarks
Police were called to investigate the colorful new additions to Rabbi Shlomo Amar's office on Saturday. After responding to the call, they said they would question the left-wing Meretz party's Hebrew University branch, after the group took responsibility for the stunt in a tweet, according to media cited by the Times of Israel.
תא מרצ באוניברסיטה העברית הגיע אתמול בלילה לרבנות הראשית כדי לקשט לרב עאמר את הכניסה למשרדו. pic.twitter.com/kKvG9aG44D— MeretzJerusalem (@MeretzJerusalem) 20 ноября 2016 г.
In addition to a photo of the "decorations," the party's tweet included a message for Amar which read: “May you have a week of love, pride and full of acceptance of the other."
The move came after Amar told Israel Hayom newspaper last week that "there is no such thing as having understanding or tolerance for this [homosexuality]," in remarks that infuriated many across Jerusalem and beyond.
“I call on them, in warm and friendly language, to leave their bad path. The Torah has forbidden [homosexuality] and calls it an abomination,” Amar said.
“This is an abomination. The Torah says it is punishable by death. It is in the first rank of severe offenses,” he added.
He dismissed the notion that a person may have a natural homosexual inclination as "nonsense," saying “there are desires and a person can overcome it if he wants, like all other desires.”
The chief rabbi’s comments have been condemned by members of Israel's LGBT community and its supporters, with representatives of the Yerushalmim Movement – a group aimed at making Jerusalem a more pluralistic and inclusive city – demonstrating outside the offices of the Jerusalem Rabbinate on Sunday, along with other activists.
The protest was met with a counter-demonstration from United Jerusalem, whose members hit the streets to “defend the honor of the Torah and the honor of the rabbi,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
At least two people have filed complaints with police over Amar’s remarks, calling them incitement to bigotry, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
The head of Hebrew University’s Meretz branch, Gilad Bar-on, has called for Amar to retract his statements.
“The blood-soaked statements of Rabbi Amar are unacceptable to us,” Bar-on told Israel's Channel 2. “As the people who are paying his wages we demand that Rabbi Amar take it back.”
His comments were also slammed by members of the Knesset and the Jerusalem City Council, many of whom supported Amar in his election to the post.
Several Knesset members wrote in a letter that Amar is "exploiting his position" as a public figure, accusing him of incitement.
"A public figure who endangers the safety of Israeli citizens by discrimination and incitement should be fired from their position immediately," they wrote.
Amar has served as Jerusalem's Sephardic Chief Rabbi since 2014. Prior to that, he served as the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel from 2003 to 2013.