In Tel Aviv, 24-Hour Supermarkets Carry the Banner of LGBTQ Rights
by Amarelle Wenkert / CTech
CTech – In Tel Aviv, 24-hour supermarket chains carry the banner of LGBTQ rights. On Monday, in celebration of the Tel Aviv Pride week, local 24/7 supermarket chain AM:PM announced in a video published to its social media pages that it would change its name to AM:AM or PM:PM in celebration of same-sex love.
With its 40 locations open around-the-clock, 364 days a year (Yom Kippur is the one day of the year when even the self-declared “city that never sleeps” shuts down completely), AM:PM’s white and cerulean logo has become ubiquitous on Tel Aviv’s cityscape. Dubbed “we all have the right to love,” AM:PM’s campaign showed the famous logo switched to words celebrating same-sex relationships and families, including bride:bride, groom:groom, mom:mom, and dad:dad.
Earlier this month, a street sign campaign in Jerusalem protested the Israeli capital’s then-upcoming pride parade with a similar application of the familial structure. Under the slogan “the courage to be normal,” signs posted throughout the city read: “dad + mom = family.”
In Israel, where religious sectors hold immense political and social power and a fertility rate of over three children per woman is the highest among OECD countries, family values are often at the center of any discussion of gay rights. Israeli law prohibits discrimination due to sexual orientation, but same-sex marriage is against the law, and same-sex couples cannot adopt children or enter a surrogacy process in the country.
Last June, the city of Tel Aviv reported that a quarter of a million people marched in the Pride parade, making it the largest pride event in Israel’s history.
A month later, some 80,000 people participated in a protest in Tel Aviv that called for equal rights for the LGBTQ community, after a new surrogacy law approved by the Israeli parliament failed to extend the right to use surrogacy to the country’s gay population.
Israeli nonprofit LGBT Task Force, which organized the protest, as well as a nation-wide strike, said at the time that while the country flaunts values of liberalism and tolerance when courting international pink dollar, it also perpetuates years-long and widespread discrimination.
It is no secret that Israel, and especially its liberal culture hub Tel Aviv, have been profiting from their growing reputation as the LGBTQ mecca. The city’s sharp rise in tourism in recent years is partially due to its increasing popularity among gay travelers. In 2015, online travel magazine WOW Travel named it “the most gay-friendly city in the world.” In May, it named one of its famous beaches, Hilton Beach, as the “best gay beach in the world.”
Like the city, local businesses have internalized the lesson that courting the LGBTQ community is good for the bottom line. Already in hot water with the country’s religious leadership over operating on Shabbat, 24/7 supermarkets can only benefit from aligning themselves with the city’s liberal majority.
Super Yuda, a relative late-comer to the city’s around-the-clock supermarket sector, donned rainbow colors in celebration of the Pride parade — which took place in Tel Aviv Friday — with an in-store and online campaign celebrating equality.
In February, when a political hopeful launched a campaign attacking the gay community ahead of the Israeli general election in April, Tel Aviv-based 24/7 supermarket chain Tiv Ta’am took the opportunity to make its pro-LGBTQ stance known. The election campaign featured Eli Yishai, a former lawmaker and former leader of ultra-Orthodox religious party Shas. Its posters read: “so that there are no more kids with two dads.”
“We believe that every person has the right and freedom to choose to start a family,” Tiv Ta’am wrote in a post to its Facebook page. With an obvious intention to troll Yishai, Tiv Taam called for same-sex couples whose names are Eli and Yishai to come into any store and claim NIS 500-worth (approximately $140) of gift vouchers. The post was shared nearly 4,000 times. Days later, after no couple came forward to claim the reward, Tiv Taam announced it would donate the money, NIS 2,500 (roughly $700), to nonprofit organization Israel Gay Youth (IGY).
Tiv Ta’am, which operates 40 stores throughout the country, has a history of butting heads with Israel’s religious leadership. The chain is known for selling pork and other non-kosher foods, and its stores are open during Shabbat and on Jewish holidays. Since the success of its campaign supporting same-sex families, Tiv Ta’am, which boasts “the freedom to choose” as its tagline, featured same-sex couples in several ad campaigns on both TV and social media.
On Wednesday, Tiv Ta’am posted its own campaign in celebration of Tel Aviv Pride Week. It read: “Cheese and cheese, cheese and sausage, or two sausages and a shrimp — it all goes.”