According to the Aguda, following the murder in Bar Noar which had nothing to do with Orthodox Jews and other similar events, the Aguda asked the newspaper to publish an “ad about the helpline that reads ‘There’s Someone to Talk to’. The newspaper initially agreed to publish the ad but decided to withdraw it at the last moment. In the reply sent by the newspaper’s lawyer to the Aguda it was claimed that the reason for not printing the ad was the fear of hurting the feelings of readers, since it is a “uniquely designed newspaper that primarily targets a very specific readership” orthodox jews.
The Israeli LGBT Task Force sued the newspaper for prohibited "discrimination". It lost the case, appealed and eventually won. “The original court linked the ad with ‘buggery’ without any basis,” writes Judge Ruth Lavhar Sharon in her decision. “I see this ad as totally "modest" and that has nothing to do with homosexual intercourse, whose "sole" purpose is to raise "awareness" regarding information and to provide a "helpline" for people who feel they need it. The ad does "not" encourage engaging in one activity or another.”
“This is a very "modest" ad; the "only" provocative thing about it is actually the fact that it is published by the Aguda and promoting homosexual lifestyle. The content of this advertisement is "not" enough to hurt the feelings of the public, and if the readers are hurt, it is due to the very recognition of the existence of people with different sexual orientations and promoting that which the torah forbids, or that the ad is written by people who do not operate according to Jewish law and therefore should not have their anti Torah ad published in a newspaper meant for religious people. Therefore this does not in my opinion justify prohibition of advertising,” the court’s decision reads.
The Aguda declared that the amount of compensation from the case will be directed to the development and the activity of the community’s helpline, and part of it will be invested directly in buying more advertising space in Makor Rishon, for its LGBT "readers".
(awiderbridge a American group that promotes homosexuality in Isreal) highlights are my additions
As far as I can tell these next 2 stories were the only 2 English Jewish reports on this story
The Tel Aviv district court has ordered Makor Rishon (First Source), a religious Zionist daily newspaper in Hebrew, to pay NIS 50,000 plus NIS 10,000 in court costs to a gay group whose advertisement it refused to run (link in Hebrew).
In accepting the gay group's appeal from a magistrate's court ruling, the district court found that Makor Rishon reneged on an agreement to run the ad, and did not make clear that the ad's running was conditioned upon the editor's approving the final copy. So far, so good - if that had been the entire ruling, I wouldn't be writing this post.
The problem is that the court also found that a privately run newspaper is a public service, and therefore refusing an ad is a violation of the Law Against Discrimination in Products, Services, and Entrance to Places of Entertainment and to Public Places. Huh?
I can see every Haredi newspaper in the country being shut down if this ruling is enforced, because if they are forced to run ads for groups like this one - with the name Individual Privacy Protection Association (Gay Community) - they will shut down rather than run those ads I wish he was right, they would most likley print the add.
Will Makor Rishon appeal to the Supreme Court? Maybe we need a constitution with a commerce clause? how about a freedom to practice Judaism clause?
(israelmatzav) Highlights our my comments.
Religious Newspapers and Freedom of Conscience
The Israeli website devoted to media-related issues, the Seventh Eye, has an interesting post (H) about a court case involving the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon. Makor Rishon is a newspaper whose main readership is the national-religious public, and its owner, Shlomo Ben-Tzvi, is a religiously observant person. Two years ago the Aguda, an Israeli organization that “[provides] a range of social and legal services, activities and education programs for youth, and cultural events for the entire GLBT community and its supporters,” sought to take out an ad in Makor Rishon. The original ad included the following:
Are you confused? Are you afraid? Do you want to speak about it? You are not alone, there is someone with whom to speak. The hotline of LGBT community is…Makor Rishon refused to publish the ad, and the Aguda sued Makor Rishon. A Magistrates Court ruled against the Aguda and in favor of Makor Rishon. (The original ruling can be read here. [H]) The judge ruled that there was no discrimination when Makor Rishon refused to publish the advertisement, rather, the law allows for an advertisement to be refused in order to defend the interests of a newspaper’s readers. A policy that strives to keep customers takes precedence over the needs of the advertisement’s intended audience.
A few days ago a District Court overturned the Magistrates Court decision. (Part of the ruling can be read here. [H]) In addition to some contractual questions that the court found to be in favor of the Aguda, the court also claimed that publishing the advertisement constituted a public service (שירות ציבורי) and refusing to publicize an advertisement of such sort constituted discrimination. The judge wrote that “the platform that a newspaper provides, even in its advertisement section, is unique, and this is still true even in the modern period.” She continued and wrote that since Makor Rishon had already published articles about LGBT issues in the past, the newspaper cannot claim that an advertisement about LGBT issues will harm its readership. The newspaper was ordered to pay the Aguda 50,000 NIS ($14,344) in addition to 10,000 NIS ($2,868) for court costs.