Nitzan Horowitz announced his intention to run for election to Israel’s largest city, Tel Aviv, against the incumbent Ron Huldai.
Horowitz, of the left of centre Meretz party, is the country’s only openly gay Member of the Israeli Knesset (MK), a post he intends to resign if elected to the be the mayor of Tel-Aviv.
His annoncement yesterday (6 May) pits the 49 year-old Horowitz against Labor’s Huldai in the 22 October elections.
If he wins, he would become Tel Aviv’s first openly gay mayor, and the first in any Israeli city or the Middle East.
Tel Aviv suffers from real-estate price speculations and overcrowding, transport and other public services stretched, problems that sparked a local occupy style protest movement in 2011.
Horowitz told Gay Star News he wants to address these issues and in particular invest in communities that are underfunded and comparatively neglected: ‘There are many good things in the city and the current mayor deserves credit for some them.
‘But there is much that is neglected, underinvested or has been wrongly enacted, Huldai had been mayor for three terms during the last 15 years, its time for a change and take care of issues that he has not dealt with’.
He’s breaming with optimism stating: ‘I have an excellent chance, since announcing my candidacy I’ve received thousands strong and sympathetic statements of support which prove to me that my decision to run for the post was right.
‘As Israel’s only out gay MK, I’ve been an LGBT rights advocate and worked with the community for many years advancing legalizations, fighting for services and so on.
‘We need to focus and put an emphasis on Tel Aviv’s residents in terms of services, health, education, transport, housing which have been under strain and needs attention. We need to put people before big money.
Asked about the city’s LGBT community, Horowitz responds: ‘The fact that Tel Aviv municipality is more gay friendly then it was and invests more than other city in Israel in its LGBT community, doesn’t mean the situation is good, it has to be much better.
‘The support and investment the LGBT community and its organizations receive relative to its size and needs are meager, and I intend to change that.
‘LGBT youth need much more support and investment and so do older members of the community – both sectors are neglected and need urgent attention.
‘Another is example (out of many) is Tel-Aviv’s gay film festival that contributes to the city and the LGBT community but gets an almost insulting budget compared with film festivals of similar size in the city, and this has to change.
Horowitz says he wants to build on the city’s diversity: ‘Tel-Aviv has a complex diversity, there are religious and secular, old and young, Arabs and Jews, and I would like to empower them.
‘Arab residents who mainly live in Jaffa form an important community that also needs investment, attention and respect.
‘Election for a gay mayor will also send an important message – it can encourage other politicians and communities, to empower themselves and we have some examples already – Paris, Berlin and perhaps a lesbian mayor for New York.
‘Hopefully I’ll be able to join them and work to represent and support diversity and all the residents of Tel Aviv.’
Reactions have been so far positive; Eran Dey and Sofie Menashe of Israel’s LGBT community Facebook page told Gay Star News: ‘We are very pleased to hear of the first openly gay candidate for a major city election in Israel.
‘We hope to see LGBT candidates in more cities around Israel and other cities in the Middle East.
‘We are underrepresented in the area and its high time this changes.’
Watch Horowtiz announce his bid to become the first gay mayor of Tel-Aviv (in Hebrew):