As Israel Forms Right-Wing Coalition, LA Times Corrects on Threats to Gays, Non-Orthodox Jews

CAMERA’s Israel office prompted Los Angeles Times corrections after an article about incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalescing coalition incorrectly reported the threats facing non-Orthodox Jews and homosexuals posed by far-right partners.

Tracy Wilkinson’s Nov. 25 article, “A new foreign policy headache for Biden as Israel forms its most right-wing government ever,” had erroneously claimed that Netanyahu’s far-right allies

have threatened to criminalize homosexuality and to ban non-Orthodox Jews from Israeli citizenship. Many U.S.-born Jews are members of more progressive branches of the faith, such as Reform or Conservative Judaism, and might not be able to obtain Israeli citizenship under the proposed laws. (Emphases added.)

Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, 2012 (Photo by U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Noam, the extreme anti-LGBTQ party allied with Netanyahu, has not threatened to “criminalize homosexuality.” Its threats against the LGBTQ community include banning the Gay Pride and legalizing “conversion therapy.” Haaretz has reported (“Netanyahu: We Won’t End pride Parades or Change the Status-quo on LGBTQ rights“):

A senior Likud source told Haaretz on Wednesday that his party will look into reversing several protections advanced by the Bennett-Lapid government, including some decisions made by outgoing Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, which safeguard LGBTQ rights.

No decision has been made on which decisions could be walked back, but a reversal of the health ministry’s order banning “conversion” therapy, removing insurance coverage for gender-affirming healthcare, and reimposing a ban preventing gay men from donating blood are all under consideration.

Thorough searches turned up no threats to “criminalize homosexuality.”

Second, the claim about a threatened “ban non-Orthodox Jews from Israeli citizenship” is inaccurate. Two specific groups of non-Orthodox Jews — not all non-Orthodox Jews — would be affected by the threatened immigration legislation. a) The proposed legislations would discontinue recognition of non-Orthodox conversions as valid for immigration and Israeli citizenship purposes. b) The threatened legislation would end the “grandparent clause” of the Law of Return, granting the grandchild of just one Jewish grandparent the right to gain Israeli citizenship.

As Haaretz reports:

A key demand of the religious parties that are expected to be part of Israel’s next governing coalition is the cancellation of the “grandchild clause” in the Law of Return, which governs eligibility for aliyah and citizenship.

Under the current law, an individual with at least one Jewish grandparent is able to immigrate to Israel and receive automatic citizenship.

One of the parties, Religious Zionism, has also demanded that recognition of non-Orthodox conversions under the Law of Return also be withdrawn. Under the current law, all converts are eligible for aliyah and citizenship as long as they have been converted in an established Jewish community. It does not matter whether the rabbis overseeing their conversions were Orthodox or not.

Were the law to be changed, Jews of choice converted through the Reform or Conservative movements would lose their right to immigrate to Israel.

Under the threatened changes, an American non-Orthodox Jew born to Jewish parents would still be able to obtain Israeli citizenship. The proposed changes concerning both gays and non-Jews are significant and in no way should not be taken lightly. But neither should they be misreported. 

The Los Angeles Times agreed and commendably amended the passage to accurately report:

Netanyahu’s right-wing partners will also push for other legislation that would not only have an impact on Palestinians and Arabs. They have threatened to take rights away from the gay community and to make it impossible for many non-Orthodox Jews from abroad to gain Israeli citizenship.

Unfortunately, editors opted to make a “stealth” correction, failing to append a note to the article informing readers of the important changes, as is common journalistic practice. In the very same article, for instance, editors posted a correction on the spelling of names. (See screenshot at left).

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