We’ve all heard and read that Israel is the Middle East’s beacon of tolerance for the non-heterosexual non-cis-gender. (Never mind that one tolerates a nuisance, not human beings.) Gay life here is better than anywhere else in the Muslim world – and at least as good as in the Western world. Which is true. Also a vast majority of Israeli’s is for gay marriage – though there isn’t. Let’s stop obscuring the homophobia that is going on in Israel that is often worse than anywhere else.
The gay-hatred that emerges from some Israelis is not so great percentage-wise. But its viciousness still mentally oppresses and kills many a non-normal, both because in some circles it is worse than in the West and a number of the bigots are high-profile people who don’t mind crippling or ending the lives of so many.
In honor of Pride Month, let’s start with Israel’s obsession with normalcy. It probably comes from when the Holocaust survivors came to the young Jewish State and were unwelcome. Who wants to hear such stories – no one – and who needs people not ready to help defend our lives and build the country? Act normal or go to a mental institution. “You are not normal” is still one of the worst accusations possible here. There is not even awareness that this is oppressive thinking.
Let’s move on – there is so much more. True, non-straights are 25% of the Tel Aviv population and the city is most gay-friendly. But that should not be seen as the norm for all of Israel. For starters, there are so many gays in Tel Aviv because in other parts of Israel, life is almost impossible for the non-straight. Not all of the US is San Francisco and not all of Israel is Tel Aviv.
And not all of the Tel Aviv area is what it should be either. An example is reported here, but it could be fake news. (It’s from a two-word publication and both words are a lie.) And certainly not fake is the vitriol that is published under this article. Pride Month is the sign for the gay-haters to crawl from under their rocks and spout a true hatred as if they are hardcore Nazis. And just like fascists, these self-proclaimed followers of Jesus consider themselves superior to the subjects of their rage. No love and no other cheek. Where are the Christians condemning them?!
Which brings us to fundamentalist-Jewish areas of the country. There it seems that gays are more hated than anyone else. Whole sections of the country but also whole cities but also whole neighborhoods but also who communities but also whole families are living hells for non-normal youths growing up in them. The thought of suicide is never far away from their minds. The option of moving to other parts of the country does not help if one is too scared to think and if one got indoctrinated that one actually is, or one’s intimacy and sexuality are, hated by G^d Himself. Every act of bullying, every anti-gay comment by peers or by teachers may lead to young gays taking their lives, and no one gives a hoot. It’s not even illegal to call gays names.
Israel has the most progressive laws against sexual harassment in the world. If someone feels intimidated, s/he can already go to the police and file a complaint. But the situation against homophobia is nowhere near that. Politicians and faith leaders feel free and are not embarrassed to fulminate against gays and lesbians as if they are vermin. They think that Judaism is under attack and see themselves as the victims – and as the moral champions on this issue. Their supremacist gut reactions are ventilated without restraint or shame.
Many Israelis feel disgusted at the thought of same-sex intimacy. And they assume that that is a sign from up-high that their revulsion is not just natural but also just. They don’t know any gay people, have no gay friends and the gays in their family are in hiding, so they don’t know that many gays and lesbians are revolted at the thought of other-sex intimacy – showing that this disgust has nothing to do with homosexuality being wrong or inferior.
Forget about mainly the religious Jews being gay-haters. Some of the most vicious ones are completely secular. They do everything forbidden in the Torah but the only way to be intimate is their way – and the others are a pest. In two ways they are worse than religious bigots because: one would expect better from the secular, and they don’t accept any rules for their own moral behavior and speech.
In my not too humble opinion though, worst is the attitude of the Orthodox rabbis. And I’m not even talking about the clergy that I discussed above who brand “these people” (they can’t even say the adjective) inferior (the Nazis called that “unworthy of life”). No, I’m talking here about the sweet average Orthodox rabbi who will not speak out against branding GLBTQ as inferior. For years, I assumed they were afraid to speak out. Not so. If they have such – understandable – fears, they are merely a symptom of a greater moral flaw: they don’t care.
They don’t care that young gays commit suicide, even in their own circles, that half a million Jews are changed (can’t get married) because of their bigotry – and half a billion Gentiles with them. They don’t care. You can say to them whatever you want, it’s a waste of time because they don’t want to care.
And that should be the focus of the new attitude of Jewish gay liberation: frontal attacks on the rabbis. The kit gloves off and calling a spade a spade. Call them murderers, because they are – all of them collectively have blood on their hands – including the ones who promote tolerance for the sinners, which means: we will leave you a place under the sun if you see yourself as flawed, not created in G^d’s image. I don’t envy their position for the Heavenly Throne. O, and that’s not an extreme position by me; that’s a mild position against an extreme position by them. When they start caring, then we can treat them with respect again. But no sooner.
Meanwhile, don’t forget: It does get better. Do as G^d wants: choose life. He loves you and wants you to have a good life. Run from death and falsehood. Don’t wait for the rabbis. Happy Pride Month!