August 09, 2006
Hezbollah: 2, Gays: 0
A little known casualty in the war between Israel and Hezbollah has been the observance of Gay Pride within the democratic Jewish state. I'm ashamed to admit it, but prior to this latest crisis, and the media filled with all sorts of late-breaking developments in the region, I didn't really know there was an Israeli Gay movement. Well, let me assure you there is. And a pretty big one: this is a two-part deal.
There was to be a Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv, sponsored and monitored by the municipality of that city and its Gay and Lesbian Association. That was the first to go. At the outbreak of war they decided to cancel and defer to the International Gay Pride celebration to be held in Jerusalem. You heard me — The Holy City itself!
The LGBT organization called JOH (that's Jerusalem Open House) worked and fought hard to host the event this year, so it's a real shame. Hagai Elad, director of JOH, was stymied by the powers that be in Jerusalem (you can just imagine!) but he pushed back against their homophobia relentlessly.
At the height of the battle for the 2006 event Elad declared, "We hope that this year the city will succeed in cooperating with the initiative instead of repeating its mistakes of the past years." Upon grasping the brass ring, he joyously extolled, "This is a world pride event and a pinnacle for the gay community!" Alas, it was not meant to be.
This is the second year in a row that a showing of Middle East Gay Rights has been postponed by turbulence and politics in Israel. Last year it was that mess with our ally's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. How did Sharon and Bush ever decide on that one? Talk about an exercise in "give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile."
This year gay day was given the boot because Israel has decided to pulverize the militant "insurgents" in Lebanon and anything (or anyone) that gets in the way. It's like their own 'war on terror,' but unlike the USA, they intend to fight it full out, win it and be done with it. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld see big dollars in their drawn-out war, and they love giving those big government contracts to their criminal counterparts in Halliburton and the like. Will this country wake up when the price of gas goes over five dollars a gallon and the middle class won't be able to afford to drive to their underpaid, uninsured jobs?
But I digress: back to the Israeli gays. Obviously, the LGBT demonstrations have been kibitzed due to the extra demands they would make on security. And I'm not just talking about Hezbollah. Members of Israel's own Orthodox Jewish community (and their politicians) have not only condemned the march, some have offered rewards for killing gays.
Leaflets blanketed the city stating, "During this parade 300,000 corrupt animals are anticipated to march through the holy city of Jerusalem, avidly putting themselves on display before our children and our sacred Torah. They will try as hard as they can to defile as many of our innocent children as they can."
Can you believe that? How is it possible that one minority group, who, a mere 60 years ago, was so thoroughly despised that they were persecuted to the point of genocide, can take such a stand against another? This is a perfect example of how the misguided persistently use their religion against others.
Still, many who travel to Tel Aviv regularly believe that gays there have it better than here in the U.S. Legal protections are stronger and more stringently enforced there. Archaic sodomy laws were repealed there long before here. There is full inclusion and acceptance for gays in the military, and Israeli Supreme Court rulings favor domestic partnership. How's that for a split society?
It's all so confusing — I guess the only way to figure it out is to experience it for yourself. But, kids, now is not the time.