Thau refers in a new book to LGBT people as a “new culture of eliminating the family” and a “crime against humanity.”
Left-wing activist Yair (“Yaya”) Fink filed a police complaint on Monday after the head of Yeshiva Har Hamor, Rabbi Zvi Thau, called on his followers to “wage war” against “postmodernism” and LGBT people which he called a “crime against humanity.”
The 90-page book, titled “On Dealing with Postmodernism and Breaking Free from its Shackles,” was published recently by the Hosen Yeshuot publisher of Yeshivat Har Hamor.
The description of the book on the publisher’s website reads “The book contains the lessons of Rabbi Zvi Israel Thau about postmodernism, which is increasingly spreading in human culture – its destructive essence, the way it operates, its dangers to humanity in general and to Israel in particular, the ways of dealing with it and the duty to fight it.”
“From a profound religious perspective, drawing from [Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook’s] teachings, the rabbi explains the reason for the spread of postmodern thought precisely in our time and what will grow from it during our redemption.”
While Thau’s book does not explicitly refer to the word LGBT, it does frequently discuss matters relating to LGBT people, referring to the LGBT community as a “new culture of eliminating the family,” according to Haaretz.
The book complains about efforts to place “parent 1” and “parent 2” in lieu of “father” and “mother” on government forms, among other issues. The book focuses largely on family structure, including comments such as “the period of childhood is a very important period for instilling basic values and basic distinctions, and when a child does not have a father and a mother, all the normal relation to his origin, his past, and his future is blurred.” Thau’s book refers to this situation as a “crime against humanity.”
“Without a family, there is no historical continuity and connection with the previous generations, there is no common national identity, there is no heritage, and there is no tradition, and the person then becomes completely disconnected,” writes Thau in the book.
“The blurring of the sexual identity of the child until he does not know whether he is a boy or a girl undermines his more elementary confidence in his identity, and hence the path to eliminating his Jewish identity is short, and since he is not sure of his national identity, he loses the power to stand against the national narrative, the power to protect the people, the faith in fulfilling the promises of the prophets, and desires a state that is nothing more than a mixed multitude.”
“We are not used to fighting, and many times we feel an internal inhibition from saying our words with the fierceness and audacity of holiness. There are also those who think that those who were educated on the rabbi’s teachings (a reference to Kook) must be pleasant and nice… but the mistake is theirs. It is our duty to act courageously and without fear in taking a stand and expressing an opinion against every idea and method that comes to consume the vineyard of Israel.”
“Just as in times of existential danger to the body, one does not adhere to the rules of etiquette and respect… all the more so, in times of danger to the life of the soul. At a time when a mental illness emerges, which may corrupt and destroy every good part of the nation’s spirit and soul, there is no escape but to go to war and sometimes even express it with harsh and shocking expressions that are not pleasant for everyone. There is no place to weaken the protest of the Torah because of polite conventions.”
Thau has been accused of raping and sexually abusing at least two women. Israel Police announced in June that they had completed the investigation into the rabbi’s case and had transferred the materials collected to the State Attorney’s Office. There have been no updates since.
Thau’s anti-LGBT, anti-Reform ‘Hazon’ movement
Thau was one of the founders of the Hazon movement which later led to the development of the Noam Party led by Avi Maoz, who currently serves as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Hazon movement made its debut ahead of elections in 2019 with a large banner at the entrance to Jerusalem reading “A father and a mother = a family. The courage to be normal.”
The banner was part of a much larger campaign started by Hazon, which described itself as a movement dedicated to “returning the Jewish character to the national agenda in Israel.” The campaign was centered on using the time before the election to pressure politicians to agree to a religious Jewish agenda for the State.
While Hazon’s campaign targeted a variety of topics, including work and public transport on Shabbat, the Women of the Wall movement (all of which were described by the movement as “not normal”), the vast majority of the campaign focused on LGBT matters.
The Hazon movement has largely been replaced by the Noam Party, which ran on an identical campaign, with its tagline being “a normal nation in our land.” The head of the party has expressed strong opposition to LGBT people, Reform Jews, “left-wing entities,” and Yeshivat Har Etzion.
The head of the Noam Party was given the authority to open a new governmental body called the “Jewish National Identity Authority” which received a budget of NIS 120 million for 2023. Maoz was also given control of the unit responsible for external programming in the education system, raising concerns that he could block thousands of programs covering everything from LGBT tolerance to Jewish programs that aren’t in line with Yeshivat Har Hamor’s ideology.
Another affiliate of the Noam Party, Rabbi Tzvi Kustiner, the head of the hesder yeshiva in Mitzpe Ramon, was filmed last year telling students “This is the battle that I tell everyone, each one in his place. Don’t be shy. Be courageous. Where you work say ‘LGBT+ people, go home!’ ‘gays, go home!’”
Kustiner claimed there was much violence and sexual abuse among LGBT+ people, and called them “Evil people! They’re going to put this craziness in every home and we’re silent, scared. Parent 1, parent 2, crazy!” according to the video.
“Fight them on everything. It is our job in every place not to be ashamed of our Judaism. This crazy government, this insanity, God willing it will fall,” added the yeshiva head, with a number of students responding “Amen,” the video footage shows.
Fink, who filed the police complaint against Thau on Monday, stated “Exactly 8 years after Shira Banki’s murder, there are important and dark rabbis who have forgotten what it is to be Jewish and continue to incite against hundreds of thousands of members of the LGBT community. When a leading rabbi in the community calls on his followers to take action, the action may be taken. The police must act a moment before the next murder.”
The Agudah – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel – condemned Thau’s comments as well, stating “Iran is here.” The Agudah added that it had filed a police complaint against Thau, saying the rabbi was inciting violence with his comments.
“It is impossible to ignore wild and extreme incitement written in black and white with the aim of harming the members of the LGBTQ community and erasing us,” said the Agudah. “The masks have been removed, this is the vision of the extremist parties in the Knesset, written in black and white: to wipe us out.”
“This is the spiritual father of Avi Maoz who serves in the Israeli government as a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, with budgets of hundreds of millions of shekels. This is the face of the hatred in the Yeshiva that is budgeted from our tax money in excess of five million shekels each year. The harm to the gay community is already present on the ground in an unprecedented increase in the cases of violence and hatred against LGBT people, we cannot allow this to continue and we will use all the legal tools at our disposal against bloodshed.”
LGBT-phobia on the rise
LGBT-phobia has been on the rise in recent years and has spiked since the government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office.
3,309 cases of LGBT-phobia were reported in 2022, an 11% increase compared to the previous year. There was a seven-fold increase in the number of LGBT-phobic incidents involving public figures and the media, a five-fold increase in the number of LGBT-phobic incidents in public places and an eight-fold increase in cases of discrimination at businesses.
A survey by the Israeli Institute for Gender and LGBT Studies in May found that a vast majority (86%) of LGBT+ Israelis across the country report that their sense of security had deteriorated in the prior three months. 77% of the respondents stated that they do not trust the police to protect them.
According to the Agudah – The Association for LGBT Equality in Israel, in March there was a four-fold increase in LGBT-phobic incidents compared to last March.
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report