Here on Jewlicious, we always love a good party and have mostly been supportive of gay parades in Israel mainly because, well, because they’re fun and harmless.

Having said that, we have some guests who feel that gay pride parades shouldn’t be held in Jerusalem because of the sanctity of the city to the three religions that forbid homosexual relations between men (nobody mentions lesbians, right?). These guests, while figuratively holding their noses, have said in the past that they (contemptuously) agree that Tel Aviv is a satisfactory location for sodomy a parade regarding a subject that violates biblical strictures.

Of course, the virtual world is removed from the real world where last year’s Jerusalem gay pride parade was postponed over and over again due to threats from certain Orthodox Jewish quarters, particularly among Haredi Jews. The police, not realizing that giving in to threats and incitement is like being penetrated from behind unwise because it’s going to happen over and over again with even more lubricant greater ease, finally gave in, cancelled the parade and held a rally in some closed Jerusalem location. The point was made and a small, aggressive minority abused the law with facilitation from the police.

Enter the politicians. A bill has now passed two readings in the Knesset (I believe it needs three readings to become law but I welcome more information on this) that seeks to end any and all gay parades in Israel. Specifically, the bill seeks to end parades or protests that “hurt the public order, public feeling or religious sensitivity.” At this point, it has enough votes to pass unless some people who are currently abstaining or averting their gaze decide to vote against. Now, to be clear, there’s a good chance the Supreme Court would render such a law invalid, but that’s assuming that Friedman, the Minister of Justice who seeks to change the function and authority of Israel’s Supreme Court (he was appointed to this role by Olmert who was angry that his friend Ramon was indicted for sticking his tongue in a subordinate’s mouth without her consent) doesn’t undermine the Court first. Moreover, it’s doing precisely what shouldn’t be done when writing laws: composing unenforceable laws to make a chest thumping statement while trampling on civil rights, with the full knowledge that the Court will take full responsibility for the fiasco by cancelling it.

The problem with this law, by the way, is not only gay pride parades. One can envision an Orthodox group denying the right of a secular group to hold a rally because it offends their religious sensibility. One can imagine a secular group protesting an Orthodox gathering becaause it hurts public order. One can see a law such as this used against non-Jews in Israel or by a government to stifle dissent. In other words, this is a terrible piece of law-making and is entirely contrary to the notion of freedom of expression and freedom of religion. It goes against the fundamental premise of Israel’s democratic ideals.

Here, let me remind you about some of those ideals:

THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

Somebody other than Meretz members needs to stand up and speak loudly against this law and then ensure that these few politicians with anti-democratic ideas that pander to members of their constituency do not push through a law that undermines the very foundations of the state. Ramming restrictions on freedom of expression, gathering and protest down an electorate’s throat is not only illegal and unsavory, it’s obscene.

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  • I cant believe I am going to say this, especially as much as I loathe gay pride here in nyc, but the solution is more protesting and parades!

    In this case it should include a broader swath of normal minded civil society, because gay or not limiting assembly limits redress and it all rolls down hill from there, as you point out, for all citizens of a nation. This will, again, effect YOU irrespective of you feeling on gays.

    It also boggles my mind that this is the best the Knesset has to worry about right now given everything else happening.

    I really feel badly for all those gay orthodox guys I see looking at gay porno mags, it must be double tough for them – and triple for their poor wives.

  • Hi, nice blog.

    I just don’t agree with you.

    The gays can go to Israel only if they want to be health of their sickness sodomite. We should wonder when the pedophiles people will fight for their right.

    regards 🙂

  • “it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel”

    What part of “freedom, justice … as envisioned by the prophets of Israel” do you have trouble understanding? Any cursory review of scripture will make it very clear that the prophets of Israel would NEVER endorse a public display of what can only be considered profanity according to Judaism. Or did I miss something?

  • Yes. You did miss something.
    1) It was secular progressive zionists who actually built israel. You dont get to coopt the good work of others now that it’s done. It’s all nice and good for the religious community to jump all over the state of israel bandwagon after the 6 day war – but it’s immoral to disenfranchise the rest of us from the country that we built. G-d didn’t create the modern State of Israel. Millions of hard working man and women’s sweat, blood, and tears did.

    2) You do not represent the totality of Judaism and pretending you do is both misguided and arogant. Many streams of Judaism embrace and support Gays and Lesbians. If you don’t like it, fine. Don’t be gay then, but stop imposing your beliefs on others.

    3) We already know what happens what an extreme group of religious leaders are given the right to veto and control the political institutions of a nation. It’s called Iran.

  • Even if Yoel doesn’t buy Tom’s argument, and despite missing the part where the the prophets are referred to in regard to peace, justice and freedom and NOT enforcement of religious laws, at the very least he has to consider the implications of what a law prohibiting the right to gather or demonstrate means to Israel.

    Sure, today you’d use the law against homosexuals because, well, because you can, but tomorrow you might use it against anybody, or you might learn that Israel’s population is majority homosexual and they want to use this law against you because you’re Orthodox and heterosexual. Using democratic rule to foist an undemocratic agenda on the voters is entirely unacceptable. It’s a slippery slope, and we as Jews who have seen what happened in Germany in 1933 and in Iran in 1979, should be well aware of its dangers.

    Seriously, get that dream of a theocracy out of your head because that will destroy Israel faster than you can say Ahmadinejad.

  • Also, I would like to ask what the guidelines for moderation are.

    Post #2 is offensive, homophobic, and ignorant. Calling Homosexuality a sickness to be cured is both inaccurate, but moreover facilitates a world view that supports institutionalization of Gays and Lesbians.

    History has shown that when homosexuality was considered a sickness thousands of innocent people were committed to mental ward, tortured with electro-therapy, and many were lobotomized. None of those actions are Halachic or Humane and all have been shown to be inaccurate by the scientific community.

    This site would never allow comments that say that people of colour are less intelligent than Caucasian people, so why is it ok to post comments that degrade Gays and Lesbians and take us down a road of hatred? If moderation is simply to prevent spam, then fine ok, but if Jewlicious is going to be limiting any debate, then it has a responsibility to be consistant.

    Sorry. I’m usually less aggressive, but hatred and bigotry get my blood boiling.

  • I rarely moderate, although I’ve been known to moderate pests who hijack a thread with an irrelevant comment. I also, sometimes, don’t feel like letting a neo-Nazi comment through but that’s not because I don’t want the comment here, it’s more because it really pisses off the neo-Nazi and causes them to run around to their friends to bitch and moan about Jewish media control and censorship.

    However, we have no set moderation rules and let about 99.732% of the comments through.

    While I abhor Jorge’s comments, I believe they belong in this conversation. This law stems from a negative sentiment toward a particular group and a desire to quash their rights, and it’s important to see how much hate there is toward them and how it’s expressed. Comment #2 fulfills this function well.

  • True dat. We’re a freedom of speech blog. You can even yell ‘fire’. You can post all day long about teh relevant intelligence of people with colour: but prepare to suffer some scorn.

  • Jorge, would you be so kind show me which part of the Tanach, Talmud or Rabbinic writings (except for the last two centuries) considers homosexuality a SICKNESS.

    Don’t bother looking! It’s a XIX Century Christian idea!!! The Torah, for example, speaks about a specific “homosexual act”, NOT about homosexual people… because the concept of “heterosexual” and “homosexual” defined identities is only a century old…

    But, hey, lets we, who pretend to believe that “there is nothing new in the Torah” live our lives by a Christian modern idea…

  • 1) There a lot of things in Israel that conflict with the spirit of the Declaration of Independence but are necessary to keep people from killing each other. If they don’t let me onto the Temple Mount some days, I can live with it.

    2) Regarding the Tel Aviv / Jerusalem issue: if the Jerusalem gay community had an event in an area where they’re active, I have no objection to that. What set this whole thing off was a foreign group coming to Jerusalem precisely because it would generate hostility; I think it’s disgusting to use a powderkeg like Jerusalem to generate publicity for yourself.

    3) That said, I’m completely opposed to addressing the issue by bans. Suggesting that people should use some self-restraint and mutual respect seems completely appropriate, though. (In fairness, that’s precisely what the Israeli gays do. I’m not criticizing them.)

    4) Common sense should dictate that events like the Gaza pullout and the Lebanon war take priority for the police over keeping idiot haredi from throwing rocks at idiot marchers.

  • Re blog moderation:
    Hey guys, that’s absolutely fair. Just wanted to clear it up! And as for pissing off the neo-Nazi’s, I like the way you think 😉

  • JSinger wrote: 2)

    if the Jerusalem gay community had an event in an area where they’re active, I have no objection to that. What set this whole thing off was a foreign group coming to Jerusalem precisely because it would generate hostility; I think it’s disgusting to use a powderkeg like Jerusalem to generate publicity for yourself.

    Uhm… there are very many active Gays in Jerusalem. I must say it’s heartening to stumble upon the Gay/Haredi rapprochement that takes place most Friday nights behind the bushes at several Jerusalem parks. Gross, but heartening nonetheless.

  • Hello,

    Why not to the Gays?
    Have not you read that God which made them at the beginning made them male and female

    He didn’t made man and man or female to a female!!

    I am not a neo-nazy and I don’t hate the gays, I feel sorry for they because they have some kind of SPIRITUAL SICKNESS like any other sin. In Leviticus 18:22 says a man shalt not lie with another man, in Deuteronomy 22:5 condemn both of male and female cross-dressing.

    Excuse me all the gays they are Human beings, I want they to be healthy for that they can go to Jerusalem.

    Cheers 🙂

  • One grave problem with proposed laws like this: they strike at speech and personal liberty in a way the law’s drafters did not intend. An American court would find them “constitutionally overbroad” and “void for vagueness”. I can imagine this sort of law applied v. religious minorities . . . . Further, these parades are a form of political speech, like it or not, which should enjoy especially vigilant protection.

    gweitz, if we Christians invented homosexuality, we derived it from the Book of Deuteronomy. Did we screw up? Millions of Anglicans want to know!

  • Uhm… there are very many active Gays in Jerusalem.

    Yes, I said that. What set this whole thing off was a foreign group coming to Jerusalem with the goal of stirring up the maximum of confrontation, not the local community members living their lives.

  • Not so glad to be gay – Palestine

    The Economist
    June 9

    Homosexuals in Palestine

    It is getting harder for gay Palestinians to seek refuge in Israel or abroad

    ONE time, high heels and a wig saved Imad from prison. The 22-year-old from the West Bank capital, Ramallah, had been caught in Jerusalem without a permit. On the way to the jail, the police asked him and his friend why they had sneaked into town. As his friend shrivelled up with shame, Imad (not his real name) proudly told them he had come to perform at the Shushan, Jerusalem’s only gay bar. He opened his bag and flourished his outfit with a bristle of sequins. The police, realising that they had caught a couple of drag queens instead of a couple of terrorists, let them go with a warning never to return. “And two days later,” recounts Imad with a gleam in his eye, “I was back, even in the same café where they arrested me.”

    But getting back is becoming harder. Israel is rapidly filling in the remaining gaps in its West Bank wall-cum-fence. Recently it took Imad some seven hours to make the usual one-hour journey from Ramallah to Tel Aviv. Soon his drag career, which has rocketed at gay clubs all over Israel (see picture above), will be cut short.

    Gay Palestinians have long been sneaking into Israel to enjoy a freedom unknown in their own, much more conservative, society. And despite persistent rows such as whether to allow gay-pride marches in Jerusalem—legislators this week voted, on a first reading, to let the city ban them to avoid offending ultra-Orthodox Jews—Israel likes to promote its reputation for tolerance. Three years ago the Zionist Organisation of America imported some gay Palestinians, complete with disguises and fake names (or perhaps they were all the same man—it was hard to tell) for a pro-Israel college lecture tour. Israel’s main gay-rights group, known as the Aguda, has been working quietly with the government and the tourist industry for three years to promote gay tourism—though a recent newpaper report about the campaign scared the tourism ministry into denying any such campaign.

    But despite relatively progressive laws, says Yoav Sivan, a young Israeli gay activist, Israel’s liberalism is more selective than its politicians make out. Over the past 12 years some 60 gay Palestinians have asked the Aguda for help getting asylum because their lives are in danger back home. Hardly a flood—but Israel has not granted one request. Nor will it give residence permits to those with steady Israeli partners, as it routinely does to its citizens’ same-sex partners from other countries. At best, says the Aguda, it lets the Palestinians stay a while to seek refuge elsewhere.

    Other states also show little sympathy. Only 20 of the 60 have won asylum abroad. The rest are in jail or living illegally in Israel, as are hundreds more who have not even sought asylum as it means losing any chance of returning home. Samir (not his real name either) has just run out of time on his latest three-month visa and risks rapid deportation if caught. But after eight years with his Israeli partner, he says, “I’m not going to leave now.”

    Israel does give asylum to Palestinians whose lives are at risk—for collaborating with Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service. And sometimes the Shin Bet blackmails gay Palestinians into working for it by threatening to expose them—as does Palestinian intelligence, for that matter. So Palestinians known to be gay are invariably suspected of being collaborators too—which puts them in even greater danger.

  • I, as a secular straight Jew, understand both the freedom of speech of the Gay Right group and the holiness of Jerusalem. I agree that the Gay Pride parade is an event that should have a venue here in Israel, but I believe that the ongoing demand to march is Jerusalem is as violent as the Ultra Orthodox fight to keep them out. The Gay Pride organizers demand that the world should be sensitive to their needs and rights, what about their sensitivity to others.

    Please feel free to have the Gay Pride demonstration anywhere else in Israel, please understand that the right to parade also includes the right to do the right thing.

    At the same time that I am against having the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem, I am against legislature limiting anybody’s civil rights.

  • If the Christians can march down Betzalel and Jaffa roads in Jerusalem, far from the Haredi neighbourhoods, then the homos can too. There’s nothing in the Torah that says it’s a sin to be gay. I mean sheesh, are we a democracy or not?

  • I love those that become holier then thou when you cross a politically correct ideal. Homosexuality is a legitimate discussion, regardless which side you toast your bread (or pita, with or without humus) on.

    As far as those fearing the slippery slope argument about banning the gay parade in Jerusalem, its pretty groundless. There isn’t any other issue that is such a clear biblical violation. It is the number one issue of contention and the gay community loves parading it in your face of the orthodox and everyone else.

    Ck, I don’t even begin to understand your comparison of Christians to homosexuals. I also love the desperate attempts to separate being gay from doing gay things. Give me a break. How many celibate homosexuals march in that parade? Puuulease!

  • ck,
    democracy means majority rule. It does not mean freedom. Often the two are at odds.
    If the majority in Germany wants nazism its democratic.
    If the majority of Czechoslavakia wants to expel Sudeten Germans its democratic.
    If the majority of Vietnam wants tobe communist its democratic.
    If the majority of Iran wants to be islamofascist its democratic.
    if the majority of Jerusalem wants to ban gay parades its democratic.
    This is why the founding fathers of the US put in the bill of rights-to limit democracy and to maximize freedom from majority rule.

    There is no prohibition of homosexuality in the Torah?