News / Middle East

    Gay Candidate Blazes New Trail in Israel Mayoral Race

    FILE - Left-wing legislator Nitzan Horowitz is seen during a Reuters interview in Tel Aviv September 29, 2013.FILE - Left-wing legislator Nitzan Horowitz is seen during a Reuters interview in Tel Aviv September 29, 2013.
    x
    FILE - Left-wing legislator Nitzan Horowitz is seen during a Reuters interview in Tel Aviv September 29, 2013.
    FILE - Left-wing legislator Nitzan Horowitz is seen during a Reuters interview in Tel Aviv September 29, 2013.
    Reuters
    As a candidate to become the Middle East's first openly gay mayor, Nitzan Horowitz is hoping his bid to run Israel's famously liberal city of Tel Aviv will help homosexuals across a region where they are widely frowned upon.
     
    The left-wing legislator is not predicted to defeat the incumbent, the well-established ex-fighter pilot Ron Huldai, in an October 22 municipal vote.
     
    But the 48-year-old remains upbeat, pointing to an opinion poll his dovish Meretz party commissioned last month that gave Huldai only a five-point lead.
     
    A survey in the Maariv newspaper last week predicted a Huldai victory, but found 46 percent of voters were still undecided.
     
    “I'm going to be not only the first gay mayor here in Israel, but the first gay mayor of the entire Middle East. This is very exciting,” Horowitz told Reuters.
     
    Horowitz's prominence in Tel Aviv is not altogether surprising. In a region better known for its religious and social conservatism, it is dubbed the “city that never sleeps.”
     
    With a population of 410,000, it was also ranked in a poll by Gaycities.com last year as a top gay destination.
     
    By contrast, more than 800,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews wearing black coats and hats poured on to the streets of Jerusalem last week for the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a divisive figure whom critics called “Israel's ayatollah.”
     
    Huldai, Tel Aviv's mayor since 1998, already apportions city budgets for its annual beachfront gay pride parade, and there is a gay film festival and municipal center for the gay community offering cultural and athletic programs for teenagers and young adults.
     
    “You can't take away the fact that gay life has blossomed in the city under Huldai,” said Itai Pinkas Pinkas, 39, a onetime city councilor who worked with the mayor.
     
    Discrimination
     
    As a measure of how far Tel Aviv has come, rabbis who held sway in the Mediterranean city in 1955 blocked a bid by a woman to win election as mayor. Golda Meir later went on to become Israel's first woman prime minister.
     
    “That's why his [Horowitz's] candidacy is not raising a firestorm, because many already see Tel Aviv as the gay capital of the Middle East,” Israeli political blogger Tal Schneider said.
     
    But Horowitz, a former television journalist who as a lawmaker has largely championed social issues and advocated for African migrants who have flocked to Tel Aviv, says discrimination against gays in the city lingers on.
     
    Just last month, Horowitz said, a landlord cited a party colleague's gay lifestyle in refusing to rent him an apartment.
     
    The task of improving policy toward gays in the Jewish state is “very challenging, because this is a country, a region with a lot of problems concerning the gay community, discrimination, even violence,” the candidate said.
     
    Israel's military made inroads decades ago by conscripting gay men and women alongside other 18-year-olds for mandatory service.
     
    And even the holy city of Jerusalem, with a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish population, holds an annual gay pride parade.
     
    But the gay community hits a roadblock when it comes to the issue of marriage.
     
    Gay marriage - and civil ceremonies in general - that take place in Israel are not recognized by the authorities. Horowitz, who has lived with his partner for more than a decade, wants that to change.
     
    “I hope once I'm elected this will contribute to tolerance and understanding, not just in Israel, but in the entire region,” Horowitz said.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora