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      Homosexual 'Cruising' Tips Provided by Tourism Ministry

      The Tourism Minister is finding it hard to explain why his ministry provided the texts and pictures for the homosexual community's tourism website.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 6/6/2007, 9:47 PM / Last Update: 6/7/2007, 12:47 PM

      Tourism Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich denied Wednesday that his ministry was involved in a homosexual tourism campaign, but the evidence to the contrary is mounting.

      Aharonovich addressed the Knesset in response to a parliamentary question by MK Yitzchak Levy (NU/NRP), who wished to know if the Tourism Ministry had been involved in preparing a tourism campaign that encourages homosexuals to visit Jerusalem. The campaign features a poster showing two homosexuals kissing against a backdrop of Jerusalem's Old City. Levy said that in his opinion the campaign shames the country and drives tourists away. He said that "we have received reactions from numerous Jewish congregations that were offended by the pictures that have been sent out."

      Aharonovich said "there is no such campaign in the Tourism Ministry now… this campaign hurts me personally." He added that he is opposed to holding the “Pride Parade” in the Holy City. He did not explain why the "gay Jerusalem" posters had a Tourism Ministry logo on them.

      However, Arutz-7 has found that it is not only the "gay Jerusalem" poster that the Tourism Ministry has to explain. The entire tourism section of the Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community website displays credits at the bottom of every page which thank the Tourism Ministry for providing the texts and pictures.

      The website includes recommendations for homosexual tourists visiting all parts of Israel. The Jerusalem section includes a page lauding the "Open House" community – which is the organization that plans to hold the controversial "Pride Parade" in Jerusalem. Other sections include tips for nighttime "cruising" for partners, recommendations for meeting fellow homosexuals in public parks, and directions to sex clubs, male prostitution services and peep shows.
      Another page in the website is entitled "Gay in the Land of Sodom".


      Another page in the website is entitled "Gay in the Land of Sodom". It provides a history of the homosexual movement in Israel and explains thus how the gay community was able to advance into its current "golden age":

      "Another reason for success was that the only source of real opposition to gay rights in Israel stems from the country's religious parties. This may seem contradictory, but it is not. While religious parties have played a role in every Israeli government since the establishment of the state in 1948, in recent years, as their power has grown, so has the resentment of secular Israelis. Thus, the opposition of religious parties to gay rights has engendered the opposite reaction among non-religious Israelis."

      Aharonovich's aide was surprised to hear about the website from Israel National News and was not specific on when and if the minister's reaction would be available.

      The website, which contains material some may find offensive, can be viewed at glbt.org.il/new-web/tourism.php

      The National Union / National Religious Party commented that the Tourism Ministry crossed a red line when it launched a campaign marketing Jerusalem as a haven for homosexual tourism.

      The ministry "overstepped the limits of the values Israel wishes to project – values like tradition, history and international heritage sites. It would be great to offer summer beaches and sun, but every campaign has a limit, in terms of good taste," the faction's statement said.
      Aharonovich's aide was not specific on when and if the minister's reaction would be available


      According to a knowledgeable source, the campaign was planned and launched by Aharonovich's predecessors in the Tourism Ministry, Avraham Hirschson and current Social Services Minister Yitzchak Herzog. Aharonovich was not aware of it and has apparently decided to cancel it.

      The Tourism Ministry is not alone in seeking to promote homosexual tourism to Israel. The Foreign Office, too, announced six months ago that it would be "re-branding" Israel's image abroad and that the homosexual public would be a prime target for its public relations campaign.

      The Jerusalem Post reported at the time that "David Saranga from the New York Consulate-General said that one of the primary target audiences that the Foreign Ministry is trying to attract is the homosexual community. Ministry officials view gay culture as the entryway to the liberal culture because, as he put it, gay culture is the culture that creates 'a buzz.'."