‘Gays for Gaza’: A double-edged absurdity

All images public domain, and/or "Fair Use". Social Media (TiKTok; Instagram;Twitter:Facebook
All images public domain, and/or "Fair Use". Social Media (TiKTok; Instagram;Twitter:Facebook

Dear Gays for Gaza,

Seventy-five years ago, Disney’s Cinderella sang, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” The delightful melody concluded with, “No matter how your heart is grieving. If you keep on believing, The dream that you wish will come true.”

Now for the bad news. If your dreaming about “Gays in Gaza,” it’s a harrowing nightmare of dismembering, decapitation, and demonic death.

Mickey and Minnie and the gang are no longer safe from the misguided Anti-Israel Anarchists. On Saturday, May 11, “Queers for Palestine” decided that they could best assist the poor Palestinians perilous plight by blocking highway exits leading to Florida’s Disney World. Why cause trouble for the joyous Disney Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses, regardless of how they choose to identify?

The satirical nature of this absurdity is mindboggling from two opposing perspectives.

Firstly, Disney is a self-proclaimed LGBGT-Safe institution. Parade floats proudly fly banners of “Pride” while gift shops display their “Rainbow Collections” of gay-themed garb for boys, girls, and everyone in between. Additionally, every year, Disney World welcomes thousands of LGBTQ+ people to celebrate their annual, “Gay Days” celebrations.  For those interested, attracted or simply curious, this year’s festivities will begin on May 30, and run through June first.

PHOTO, Screenshot.: Mahmoud Ishtiwi. (via X)

Secondly, and more pertinent, is that being a part of the LGBT community in Gaza is a crime. Not only in Gaza, but in all the Palestinian Territories. According to Human Rights Watch, 34-year-old Hamas terrorist commander Mahmoud Ishtiwi was murdered in Gaza for being gay. He was shot three times in the chest after they had detained him for a year.

Seventeen year old gay teenager Abdul, whose name was changed for his safety, said,  “They put me in a tiny room that was two-by-two meters. They wouldn’t let me sleep or go to the bathroom inside. There was no food. They would torture me so badly,” he told i24NEWS.

“Sometimes, they would tie my feet up and beat them with a stick”.

Times of Israel: Ahmad Abu Murkhiyeh

In October,  2022, a gay Palestinian man, 25-year-old Ahmad Abu Murkhiyeh, was discovered, decapitated on a West Bank roadside. Graphic footage taken by Palestinian youths who happened upon Abu Murkhiyeh’s dismembered body rippled through social media. The West Bank is governed by Abbas’ Palestinian National Authority, not Hamas.

According to Pew Research, 93% of the Palestinian population is completely opposed to homosexuality, a percentage among the highest in the world. Palestine has also been named by Forbes as one of the worst countries in the world for LGBTQ+ travelers.

Navigating Pride Parades, Torah, and the Jewish Perspectives.

In direct contrast to Gaza and the Palestinian Territories, in nearby Israel, hundreds of thousands of individuals participate in the Annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade. Admittedly, not all Jews find these celebrations kosher. Be that as it may, the participants are not at risk of imprisonment or death.

Photos from Times of Israel, Flash90, Tomer Neuberg/Flash90), Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/File,

The Democratic Jewish state’s controversial tolerance casts a glowing halo upon the Middle East’s dark canvas of inhumanity. Of the 70 countries that consider homosexuality felonious, a dozen are in the Middle East. Those more merciful offer the offenders perilous time in prison. In seven of these countries, conviction is punishable by a gruesome death.

Prior to the carnage of October 7, when sexually perverse acts of savagery were committed by Hamas terrorists against innocent men, women, children and babies, gay Palestinians would risk their lives to cross the border into Israel, feeling safer among Israelis than among their own people.

How should we, as Jews, react to these festivities which are widely regarded as peaceful and joyous, yet questioned by the Torah?

During Israel’s Pride Week, some will participate while others observe. An opinionated minority will side with the countries who condemn the event while silently sentencing the celebrants to death.

The Torah, although perfect, is perplexing to even the most gifted scholars. This truism is epitomized by its approach to sexuality. This is confirmed by those who, despite enthusiastically dedicating their lives to passionate debate, well-intentioned arguments, and opposing interpretations, cannot formulate a consensus.

One man’s Simchah is another man’s Shonda.

The Torah commands us to accept responsibility for religious obligations that we can freely fulfil. Does an individual choose to be gay? If not, its expression cannot be forbidden.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi writes in the Tanya, that when you see a person who lives a life filled with temptations that you do not experience, you must feel humbled before him.

There is no word in ancient Hebrew for homosexual and nowhere in the Torah are homosexual inclinations condemned, only specific homosexual acts between men. The Torah does not specifically prohibit lesbian relationships and the Talmud’s only concern is whether a sexual relationship between women would result in their loss of virginity. If so, they could not enter the Virgin Bride Beauty Pageant.

The halakhic “rules” of negiah provide specific details regarding who a Jew may “touch.” The sources of these laws include the Torah, the Babylonian Talmud, the Mishnah and Shulchan Aruch. Negiah can be viewed as integral to Tzniut which describes the character traits of modesty, discretion, and conduct.

The underlying intent of the rules of negiah is to curtail inappropriate sexual thoughts by restricting physical contact with a member of the opposite sex. Even spousal relationships are not without restrictions. These guidelines are a culmination of differing opinions concerning the potential sensuality of a handshake, a hug, a pat on the back or a brotherly smooch.

Those who contributed to the Negiah Guidebook possessed wisdom, lacked naivety, and feared the Almighty. They were aware of the prevalence of homosexual tendencies and the laws prohibiting homosexual acts. Then why is it not forbidden for a man to touch another man? I doubt that our prophets of the past and rabbis of the present trust that men with homosexual tendencies would take it upon themselves to distance themselves from other men. Rashi said that thoughts of sin are more difficult to control than committing the sin itself and that sexual passion is more difficult to contain than the act itself.

One theory suggests that these wise men knew that the prevention of inappropriate sexual thought was hopeless. As a general rule (undoubtedly with exceptions) men are more aggressive and impulsive than women. These differences are mediated by the amygdala, whose volume in males is enhanced by prenatal testosterone.

Are the rules of negiah designed to protect women from the sexual advances of men, but any attempt to restrain sexual advances amongst men is futile? Is this the consensus of wisdom?

In the first chapter of the second book of Samuel, upon Jonathan’s death, David laments,

“I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

To suggest that David’s passionate writings suggests homosexuality is considered absurd and offensive by most, yet a welcomed verification by others. The problem with these contrasting interpretations is context and relevance.

For those who are convinced that David was bisexual, this passage does not suggest that the Torah approves of it. For those who interpret it to mean that the (non-sexual) love between  kindred souls can be more loving than a sexual relationship, this does not imply that righteous Jews cannot be gay.

The late UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks stated, “Compassion, sympathy, empathy, understanding – these are essential elements of Judaism. They are what homosexual Jews who care about Judaism need from us today.”

The Torah unequivocally condemns gay sex. In the same category of castigation is the prohibition of adultery, yet this second group of Torah-designated “sexual deviants” are not victims of hate crimes, nor must they protest and lobby for equal rights.

My personal opinion regarding the carnal carnival controversy is quite simple. I don’t enjoy or encourage the deafening display of large, loud, congested crowds. Doesn’t matter if it’s celebrating gay pride in Tel Aviv, or Thanksgiving in New York City. They are a security nightmare for law enforcement and equally dreaded by clean-up crews.

For those of you who have a moral conundrum with the Pride Parade, sorry for your troubled minds, but keep in mind that gays next door in Gaza are maimed and murdered. It’s a slippery slope from banning a parade to encouraging bigotry.

Perhaps a more deserving moral conundrum lives within the hearts and minds of observant Jewish members of the LGBTQ community who are troubled by their own inclinations or by the cruel accusations and actions of their opposition.

PHOTO, permitted for use by Rabbi Jacob Shmuel Boteach.’Shmuley Boteach,’ is ranked among the top 10 most influential rabbis in the United States (Newsweek), and among the 50 most influential Jews in the world. (The Jerusalem Post).

To you, I offer the compassionate advice of Orthodox Rabbi Jacob Shmuel Boteach, founder of the Oxford University L’Chaim Society.

“There are 613 commandments in the Torah… You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy. Now, go create a kosher home … you are His beloved children.”

The “Pride Parade” in Tel Aviv is loud, messy and controversial, and “Gay for Gaza” may be naive, but “Gay in Gaza” is a deadly declaration with dire consequences.

About the Author
Gary Branfman, MD is co-founder of, past president of Congregation B’nai Israel in Victoria, Texas and singlehandedly had the IHRA definition of Antisemitism endorsed by the City. Dr. Branfman has lectured internationally on Racism and has written for several publications. He has appeared on CBS evening news with David Begnaud and Al Jazeera.
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