Skip to comments.Gay pride - and Israel's, By Bret Stephens (YOU'LL DIE VOMITING)
Posted on 06/20/2003 1:23:06 PM PDT by Alouette
Today, June 20, gay and lesbian Israelis will parade through Jerusalem's streets, from City Hall to Independence Park. The march was supposed to have taken place last week; it was postponed after one of its organizers, 47-year-old American immigrant Alan Beer, was murdered by a Hamas suicide bomber aboard Bus 14A.
For those of us who devote a good amount of thought and breath defending Israel from various calumnies - particularly those coming from the hard Left - the fact that this march is taking place at all is excellent news. So Israel is a theocratic state? Show me an equivalent march taking place in Iran or Saudi Arabia. So the Israeli army is an instrument of Fascist oppression? Maybe, but gays and lesbians serve in the IDF's ranks without formal discrimination - more than can be said for the US armed services.
Why, then, should those most opposed to this march be the same people, more or less, who are most ardently "pro-Israel"?
"This is a disgusting parade which has no place in a Jewish state," said Itamar Ben-Gvir, a spokesman for the outlawed ultranationalist Kach movement who also confessed to taking down 30 rainbow-striped flags in downtown Jerusalem. "The gay and lesbian community is a marginal, fringe group, and they must not be given a public stage," added MK Nissim Ze'ev of the haredi Shas party.
I know at least a few people who'd argue that it is Ze'ev and Ben-Gvir, not Beer, who represent a "fringe." But put that argument aside. The question is, when we boast that Israel is "the only democracy in the Middle East" (Turkey honorably excepted), what are we really saying? Exactly how does it distinguish us from our neighbors and enemies? And what obligations does it impose upon Israelis, gay and straight?
ONE WAY to get at these questions is to point to what we're not. For starters, we're not a country that treats homosexuals the way the Palestinian Authority does.
A few months ago, watching the news in the run-up to the Iraq war, I spotted a couple of demonstrators marching to a "Queers for Palestine" banner. Note the preposition. While most of the antiwar marchers were merely against war (even if this meant keeping Saddam Hussein in power), these two were for Palestine. I spent the remainder of the evening trying to think of the nearest equivalent. Blacks for the Old South? Jews for the Ayatollah? "Recovered" homosexuals?
In fact, "recovered" is what Palestinian gays must be if they are to survive in "Palestine." As Yossi Klein Halevi wrote last August in The New Republic, Islamic law prescribes five separate forms of death for homosexuals. To these, the Palestinian Authority adds several of its own. In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, Halevi reports, a young Palestinian homosexual he calls Tayseer "was forced to stand in sewage up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects and other creatures he could feel but not see... During one interrogation, police stripped him and forced him to sit on a Coke bottle. Throughout the entire ordeal he was taunted by interrogators, jailers, and fellow prisoners for being a homosexual."
Tayseer's story is one of hundreds. Halevi also tells the story of one Palestinian homosexual who was put in a pit in Nablus and starved to death over Ramadan; of another whose PA interrogators "cut him with glass and poured toilet cleaner into his wounds"; of a third who lives in fear of his life from his brothers.
"It's now impossible to be an open gay in the PA," says Shaul Ganon of Aguda-Association of Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender in Israel.
All this is of a piece with the broader treatment of homosexuals throughout the Muslim world. The Taliban used to put homosexuals to death by collapsing a wall on them. In Malaysia, the maximum penalty for sodomy is 20 years in prison and "mandatory whipping." In Egypt, an increasingly severe crackdown on homosexuals is now entering its third year. In April, Brazil put forward a gay-rights resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission; Muslim countries successfully filibustered it.
And so on. Of course, everybody knows this, though nobody talks about it much. And of course, everybody knows that Israel is a comparatively receptive place for gays and lesbians, though nobody talks about it much, either. Along with South Africa, France, Ireland, Canada and Spain, Israel has been in the forefront of granting legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. So when we say, "We are the only democracy in the Middle East," we are not simply making a statement about our political structure, but about social and cultural attitudes. We are a typical Western state. Nothing demonstrates it better than today's march.
"TYPICAL," HOWEVER, is also problematic. Typical Western states also mass produce and widely disseminate pornography, ingest gigantic quantities of narcotics and generally suffer every plague of affluence. The gay-rights movement, some argue, belongs in this category.
I don't buy this for a second. But I appreciate why the argument is made. "Gay-Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance Of Gays Back 50 Years," went a headline a few years back in The Onion, a satirical newspaper. "'I'd always thought gays were regular people, just like you and me, and that the stereotype of homosexuals as hedonistic, sex-craved deviants was just a destructive myth'" the paper "quoted" Hannah Jarrett, a fictional 41-year-old mother of four. "'Boy, oh, boy, was I wrong.'"
The Onion gets it exactly. For decades, the basic problem with the gay-rights movement has been that it tended to make opposite demands. It rightly insisted on mainstream acceptance and equal protection of the laws. Insanely, it then proceeded aggressively to flaunt its every difference. The aim, it seemed, was not to join a mainstream in the manner of the black civil rights movement or feminism, but to overthrow the very concept of "mainstream."
The result was to confirm every lurid prejudice about gay life. Sexually promiscuous? Emotionally unstable? Morally suspect? Politically radical? The icons of gay life in the 1970s and 1980s, from Michel Foucault to the Village People to Calvin Klein, all giddily seemed to answer yes.
My guess is that the way in which the gay-rights movement pursued its agenda set it back by at least a decade. That both the IDF and the British military allow openly gay service members ought to have been enough to show that the US armed forces could have done the same - but the gay community bears its share of the blame for making its case such a difficult one to make. Ditto for gay marriage, which only this week was legalized in Canada: This was something that ought to have happened ages ago, if only more of the gay community had been demanding it back then, and if (male) gay relationships did not have a reputation for being so fickle.
Now this is changing. As Andrew Sullivan writes, among gays "a need to rebel has quietly ceded to a desire to belong. To be gay and to be bourgeois no longer seems such an absurd proposition. Certainly since AIDS, to be gay and to be responsible has become a necessity."
Sullivan is right - indeed, has to be right. Those who opposed the gay-rights revolution cannot realistically expect that today's homosexuals will simply be pushed back into the closet. And to preserve existing legal barriers against gays would only perpetuate a gay subculture that is both neurotic and alienating. The only decent conservative alternative is to insist that gay men and women join the social and cultural mainstream - and enact the policies required for them to do so.
WHICH BRINGS me back to Beer. Cleveland-born, a software engineer, "Al" was also an observant Jew who came to Israel five years ago because "it gave him the opportunity to pray as he wanted and live the [Jewish] life he wanted," according to Ze'ev Pertrucci, a former roommate. Interviewed by The Jerusalem Post in 1999, Beer said his homosexuality had presented no obstacles to joining an Orthodox synagogue.
"My understanding of being Orthodox is that there is a long list of mitzvot to keep, which is what I do," he said. "It doesn't bother my being religious."
Testifying in the Knesset the same year, Beer told a parliamentary committee he was "proud of my many identities": Gay, Orthodox, Jerusalemite, Zionist. "People can be both free and holy," he said. Friends recall his "American swagger," his Hawaiian shirts, his passion for cinema, his "infectious laugh," his willingness to volunteer, easygoingness.
Beer was murdered after returning from a shiva call for a friend up north. Had he not been on that bus, he would have marched Friday for gay pride. Would any of us not want him back? And would any of us, really, not have wanted him there?
You'll never stop us; we hide the C-4 and nails in our A*s!!!(And we love it!!!)
Where here,where queer,.... bomb your a*s!!!
Now I want to thank you so very much for combining your strong advocacy for Israel with a wholistic Torah worldview that teaches all mankind in every age and land how one is to live. The nudnick who wrote the pro-homosexual article in the Jerusalem Post has doubtless become the poster child for "palaeoconservatives" who insist that Yasser Arafat is somehow going to save the world for decency and morality and that every homosexual activist on earth receives his instructions directly from 'Ari'el Sharon. But unfortunately his message has become a main component of "pro-Israel" rhetoric. Israel is a "democracy," Israel is "western," Israel is a product of the same tradition that created the United States of America and the modern post-enlightenment West. Blakh.
However, before we get too embarrassed or stutter too defensively before our "palaeoconservative" critics let us remember that their entire pose, their entire pretenses to morality, are phony. They are frauds from beginning to end as may be easily demonstrated.
First, as with Communists, they are very selective about just which "gays" they oppose. Any "gay" who is anti-Israel (Gore Vidal, Justin Raimondo, perhaps Arafat himself) are embraced as allies just as enthusiastically as anti-Zionist Communists who are hailed as "honest" Communists (because the Jews who "created Communism" lost control of their creation and it fell into the hands of people they could not control). This blatantly eliminates both Communism and homosexuality as genuine issues in the "palaeoconservative" community. Each and every single appeal to anti-Communism and anti-homosexuality is proved by these stances of theirs to be thoroughly and completely dishonest and fraudulent. (BTW, I have come to believe that he same people who support Communism when it has been turned against its "creators" also place capitalism and Monotheism in the category of things created to "subvert" the west but which Jews now "oppose" because it has been inculturated by its intended "victims." Don't expect any lying "palaeo" to admit this is his view of religion, however.)
But now let's cut to the nitty-gritty. Some of these people (and I know through personal correspondence), even those who actually consistently take moral positions (assuming such "palaeos" actually exist) take these positions for the exact same reason that Alan Dershowitz supports "social justice"--ie, either groundless personal "hang-ups" or for the practical reason that morality "works" while immorality is corrosive.
Now a certain "palaeocon" who shall be nameless has told me that he defines conservatism by traditional vs. radical (which certainly makes more sense than the nonsensical "big vs. small government" thing one hears so often). The thing is, this person does not believe in HaShem. He "opposes" homosexuality (when not advocated or practiced by a fellow Jew-hater) for some non-Theistic reason. And the thing is, while this fellow thinks he is the exact opposite of Dershowitz to me they are the same thing. They are non-Theistic moralists, and "non-Theistic morality" is an oxymoron. It doesn't matter if the non-Theistic morality advocated is "traditional" or "radical." Do you hear that, some of you freaking Nazi lurkers??? IT DOESN'T MATTER. The whole purpose of opposing homosexuality is to acknowledge HaShem. And the very idea of some denier of HaShem advocating "morality" because their stupid subjective guts tell them homosexuality is wrong (rather than simply submitting to the decrees of HaShem) is ridiculous. No "palaeoconservative" therefore, can be said to advocate "morality" since "morality" is based on the decrees of the Jewish G-d. Similarly Dershowitz cannot advocate "justice" since G-d defines this is well. Dershowitz and these people are ultimately the same, however many people that offends. Anti-Semitic "morality" is merely another form of atheistic "social justice."
I want to thank you also for posting genuine Jewish information on the Bible as well, Alouette. The biggest secret in the world is that Orthodox Judaism is the most "Biblical fundamentalist" religion on earth. Unfortunately even most Orthodox Jewish rhetoric aimed at the non-Jewish world awards only "tolerance," despite the fact that the "tolerant" people are the very ones who deny the Divine origin of the Holy Torah. If the true Orthodox Jewish concept of the Bible ever becomes generally known I believe that there will be a stampede out of confused, liberal, decadent, decaying, liberal chr*stianity and to Nochut. Unfortunately, the "tolerance" rhetoric imply that Judaism is Biblically liberal so most people never learn. As I said, it's the biggest secret in the world.
Once again, Alouette, thank you for taking the stands you do, for doing so publically, and in the name of the G-d and Torah of Israel. My apologies again for the tardiness of this post.
In closing (and with regard to the recent Supreme Court decision here in America), perhaps some day a liberal "rights" organization will challenge the laws against murder on the grounds that they merely enforce a sectarian religious taboo. After all, that's what morality is. And without G-d "thou shalt not kill" is as imaginary as Dershowitz's G-dless "justice" or the "palaeos'" G-dless "morality."
Yes, but this is the "freedom" that led to two churbanim (-ot?) and two exiles. The Kahanists are right--the government of the "Jewish" state has fallen into the hands of heretics.
Now Yehoshu`a Bin Nun, that was a prime minister!
Never has anything been more obviously true, yet treated as though it were not. Chr*stianity is always seen as l'ancien regime while the older religion of Judaism is treated as some sort of younger freethinking heresy, the expression of which requires a post-modern, enlightenment world. When will this illusion be dispelled?
The most tragic thing are those Jews who never hear of G-d until from the Notzerim and who convert to that religion convinced that it is the only form of Biblicism or religiosity that exists. Then their misguided efforts to confront their brethren is cast as a crusade to awaken "freethining heretics" to religion. But how did this religion, which is a thousand years later than Sinai, whose founder contradicted the Bible and the laws of G-d so explicitly, ever come to be perceived as so "conservative?"
J*sus may be a conservative icon, but he was an irreverent iconoclast. Most iconoclasts eventually become icons of conservative societies, from Jefferson to Marx.
The inter-Jewish debate now is too often between combatting chr*stianity in the name of secularism or else acquiescing to the leadership of that false religion to save the world. Whatever happened about letaqqen `olam bemalkhut Shaqqay? That is the true Jewish position.
I would add just a word of caution here for those FReepers who are unfamiliar with the topic of Judaism and capital punishment, who might take this statement as teaching that Judaism does not really inflict capital punishment at all. It is true that the carrying out of death sentences must be carried out according to the Oral Law and that this does indeed set severe boundaries. For one thing, the person must have previously been formally warned before two witnesses (I think the number is two) that he is engaged in an activity that is punishable by death. If this warning has not been given, the person cannot be put to death by the court. Also, there must be at least two witnesses to the exact same overt act. Two witness, each of whom witnessed a different act, are not sufficient. Neither is confession by the person himself admissible, or hearsay, or circumstantial evidence (though the King of Israel has the authority to order one executed based on circumstantial evidence). Also, as I understand it, people not mentally competent may not be put to death.
Now it is true that with all these requirements in place that capital punishment under the Torah is indeed rarer than might be at first assumed by a mere reading of the Written Torah itself (the Talmud noted that a court that inflicted the death penalty once in seventy years was considered brutal). However, it must be stressed that if anyone met all these criteria he had to be put to death by the court. In fact, the Torah specifically forbids having mercy on someone who has met all the criteria for being put to death.
Also, even in those cases where someone has committed a capital crime but has not met the criteria which would allow the death sentence by the court, HaShem Himself reserves the right to inflict the penalty. I have read that, for example, someone guilty of a crime punishable by death by strangulation, but who cannot be punished by the court, may choke to death while eating. It requires a total trust in G-d to obey Him even when He forbids the human court to take action for some technical reason when the person has done something worthy of death. The lack of this type of faith shows just far yeridat hador (the regression of humanity through the generations) has come.
Finally, the laws for Benei Noach (non-Jews) are somewhat different. While confessions and circumstantial evidence are still not admissible, no prior warning is required and only one witness is necessary. Also, as I understand it, a non-Jew is responsible for obeying the Noachide laws even if he is ignorant of them. So the fact that the current state of Israel does not have the authority under the Torah to enact the death penalty (and that Torah Jews must not allow it to do this) does not mean that Torah requires a crusade against the death penalty among non-Jews. However, our current legal system is not that commanded by HaShem, and only one form of capital punishment--death by beheading--is permitted to non-Jews. It is imperative for Jews and non-Jews to educate themselves and fight for obedience to G-d in our laws and systems of justice, and this includes not only the fight to maintain capital punishment but also to see to it that it is carried out only in accordance with Divine instructions. I am afraid we are a long way from there yet.