Openly gay singer's show divides religious town

Signs advertising show by gay Israeli singer vandalized in Samarian town, mayor claims majority of town back show.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ivri Lider
Ivri Lider
Miriam Alster/FLASH90

Signs advertising a performance by an openly gay singer in a Samarian town were recently destroyed, as some members of the community voiced their objections to the controversial show.

Residents of the predominantly religious town of Elkana in Samaria recently found several signs promoting a concert scheduled for next month vandalized, with the phrase “Desecration of God’s name” spray painted across them.

The signs advertised a joint show by a religious signer – Hanan Ben-Ari – and a secular singer – Ivri Lider. The concert, part of the third annual “Face to Face” event, which brings together religious and secular Israelis, has drawn criticism from some residents who objected to the inclusion of Lider, an openly gay performer, for an event during the Sukkot holiday season.

One couple circulated a message in the town’s email list calling for the show’s cancellation.

“How can a religious town like Elkana invite an openly perverted person - according to the Torah’s definition – to perform in our community? We don’t need to be pioneers and be the first religious town to invite someone with sexual perversions, according to the Torah, to play in our town… it’s not a healthy way to educate our children.”

“It’s not too late to admit the mistake and correct it,” the message continued.

Another resident gave a more nuanced view, but agreed with the couple’s conclusion.

“When someone who represents this – and it cannot be denied that he is one of the standard bearers of [the Israeli homosexual community], something that is totally opposed to our worldview and certainly to our values, there’s something very absurd [about this] and insulting to our values.”

The town’s mayor, Assaf Mintzer, rejected the calls for the shows cancellation, and insisted that opponents of the performance were a minority.

“The ‘Face to Face’ festival will be held for the third year, just as it has in the past. The festival brings together interesting and quality musical collaborations between performers from different sectors in the spirit of the Sukkot holiday and tradition of Ushpizin [Sukkot hospitality].”

“Music is a wonderful way to bring people together to connect. It’s a shared language,” Minzter added.

“This isn’t my position,” Minzter said regarding opposition to the concert, “and it’s not the town’s position. There is opposition by some individual [residents], but the vast majority – even outside of Elkana” support the show, Mintzer claimed.

Some residents, however, criticized Minzter’s response.

“Why is he so insistent to bring a performer who doesn’t represent the town’s religious character? This isn’t what most people here want to expose their children to,” one local told Arutz Sheva.