Father and Mother = Family
Father and Mother = FamilyHazon

On Sunday, Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber wrote to the legal adviser of the Ra'anana municipality, Daphna Keinan, following the municipality's decision to remove signs stating "A father and a mother = a family" and "The courage to be normal" that were posted by the Hazon (Vision) movement.

Zilber's ruling was prompted by a letter sent to her by right-wing activist Shai Glick, which included references to press reports on the decision of the Mayor of Ra'anana to remove the signs.

In her letter to the legal adviser of the Ra'anana municipality, Zilber cited an incident that occurred in Jerusalem half a year ago, after similar advertisements were removed by the city's mayor, Moshe Leon. His legal adviser had argued that given the timing of the signs, designed to coincide with the pride parade then taking place in the city, it was reasonable to restrict freedom of expression in this case.

The Attorney General, however, disagreed. "A municipality’s authority to limit signs in its jurisdiction on the grounds that they offend public sensibilities should be limited to very exceptional cases, when the insult is extreme and more than is tolerable in a democratic society," wrote Avichai Mandelblit. The city accepted the ruling and permitted the hanging of further signs.

In her letter this week, Zilber wrote: "Freedom of expression is a fundamental right in any democratic society ... local authorities can refuse to give a permit, or revoke a permit that was already granted, if ... the sign offends the sensitivities of the community. That notwithstanding, one should use this authority while bearing in mind a long-standing principle established by the Supreme Court, according to which the freedom of expression is given prime consideration, even in cases where it offends sensitivities..."

Echoing Mandelblit's ruling, she noted that, "Only in extreme cases where the damage is above and beyond human tolerance ... and is likely to disrupt the public order, is there a place for a measured limitation of freedom of expression."

Btsalmo, the Jewish human rights organization of which Shai Glick is CEO, issued a statement in response to the ruling: "We welcome the decision of the Deputy Attorney General. Freedom of expression is a supreme value that should be afforded to conservatives as well. It is very disappointing that the Mayor of Ra'anana doesn't seem to understand that people have the right to think differently. The Btsalmo organization will continue to fight for freedom of expression and against all racism, incitement, and discrimination."