Danny Dayan
Danny DayanFlash 90

The former head of the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council has harshly criticized the Jewish Home (Bayit Yehudi) party over its stance on same-sex marriage.

Former council head Danny Dayan told Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio) that he is very hurt by an approach he sees as “homophobic.”

The Jewish Home party recently said it would veto a measure to extend certain tax benefits to same-sex couples with children, then declared it would support the measure but only if it did not include recognition of same-sex partnerships.

Dayan is secular, and is a staunch supporter of the Likud party. However, he said, he admires some Jewish Home MKs as well.

“It really hurts to see someone who I really like and respect, Ayelet Shaked – and I’ve heard her positions on the matter – when I see her serving at the front lines in writing letters” against recognizing same-sex marriage, he said.

“I’m in Portugal right now. To some extent, it reminds me of the anousim,” he added, referring to Jews who were forced to keep their Judaism a secret in order to avoid persecution.

“I don’t accept the Jewish Home party’s statement that we’ll give the benefits, but don’t remind us that it’s homosexuality… What does that mean? Why should these people need to hide?” he explained.

Dayan argued that many Israelis in Judea and Samaria agree with his views, not with those espoused by the Jewish Home. “The thing that unites settlers, ideologically speaking, is the desire to return to Judea and Samaria. On other matters, there’s a wide range,” he said.

“I haven’t done a poll, but I know that among my neighbors my position – that we need to stop the homophobic idea that we need to hide, and not name things by name in legislature – is completely accepted,” Dayan declared.

He revealed that he supports civil marriage as well as same-sex marriage. “I think that in the 21st century, a country cannot forbid a couple to love each other and to fulfill that love. It’s very simple,” he argued.

“If my daughter wants to marry a non-Jew, it will be a tragedy for me, but that’s my problem, not the state’s problem,” he continued. “I don’t expect the state to take measures to forbid it. All the more so for gay and lesbian couples.”

“The state needs to let every couple fulfill their love in a legal way, without hiding it behind all kinds of strange terminology,” he concluded.

Under Israeli law, the state recognizes marriages performed within Israel only if they were performed under the auspices of a recognized religion. As Judaism does not recognize marriage between Jews and non-Jews, this means that such couples’ marriages will not be recognized unless performed by a cleric of the non-Jewish partner’s religion.

The state also recognizes all marriages performed overseas, including same-sex marriages, a situation that has led many Israeli couples to choose weddings in Cyprus or elsewhere.

The Yesh Atid party has launched a campaign to require the government to recognize civil marriage ceremonies within Israel.  

Many Jewish leaders have expressed opposition to official recognition of marriages forbidden by Jewish law (halakha). However, Rabbi Benny Lau recently expressed support for civil marriage, while some other rabbis, including Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, have expressed support for "domestic partnerships" that would have the same legal and financial benefits as marriage.