BROWN DEER – Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center, is concerned about billboards she’s seen comparing the Reform movement to Nazis, among other pejorative messages.
The billboards, in Israel, have appeared during the run-up to recent elections. Hoffman is worried that the billboards could reappear in the next Israeli election cycle. Hoffman made the remarks during a meeting with the Chronicle in late November 2019 at the Four Points Sheraton Milwaukee North Shore in Brown Deer. Hoffman was in town as part of a North American fundraising tour for her Israel-based work.
One billboard’s message was: “Father and father do not a family make. The right to be normal. Vote Noam.”
Noam is a relatively new religious party that was founded to combat the acceptance of LGBT people and families, according to a July 2019 report in the Jerusalem Post. Hoffman said the advertising has been disturbing, and she’s concerned that it inappropriately widens the realm of what it’s acceptable to say publicly in Israel.
“In the same video, to show Hitler and the Women of the Wall?” said Hoffman, who is director of Women of the Wall. “Nobody has ever likened us to Hitler.”
According to Israel National News, video was posted on Noam’s Facebook page under the comment: “An entire country is going through conversion therapy. The time has come to stop it.” In the video, people are shown holding signs that read “children don’t need a mother” and “everyone can be a Jew.”
Hoffman sees the advertising strategy as dehumanization and “stirring the pot” so that “particular elements” who vote can be awakened.
There are foreign spending limits under Israeli law for political advertising and, based on the choice spots where she’s seen the billboards, the limits may have been exceeded, she said. Of course, that’s only if the money supporting the advertising is foreign, as she thinks is likely.
“I feel very uncomfortable about a group that is very extreme that spent huge amounts of money,” she said.
Noam did not respond to requests for comment.