Stand With Them?

Two weeks ago, the Israeli Advocacy Site, “Stand with Us,” published on their social media sites the Pew Research Study which describes attitudes of the nations of the world towards the question of whether homosexuality is morally unacceptable. The intent of their efforts was to be critical of the Palestinians who had a 94% agreement with the statement that it is morally unacceptable as opposed to the more “enlightened” countries like Spain and Germany who had an 8% agreement rate. For the record, Israel was at 42% for morally unacceptable with 27% indicating it was morally acceptable and the remaining 25% responding it was not a moral issue. (The US was at 37% unacceptable and 23% acceptable and 35% responding it was not a moral issue.) This story was from an ostensibly Jewish website (Stand with Us) quoting a study from a foundation (Pew) started and still funded by a number of Jews who perhaps, like many of our people, believe the basic Noahide laws on sexuality outlined in the Torah are either not relevant, not binding and/or not God given.

The study does not ask about discrimination, compassion, whether homosexuality is a result of nature or nurture or both, living arrangements, or any other number of possible questions – just the core moral question.

Some no doubt wonder why God allows the Palestinians, whose society often shows a lack of moral decency and many or even most of whom support killing innocent Jews – why does God allow them to be in our land or cause them to be such a horrific thorn. For what purpose? If one believes that HaShem plays an active role in our lives – this is a difficult question. Not that we can ever know – but could this be part of the answer. Jacob was worried about Esau’s merit before HaShem because Esau stayed in the Eretz and took care of his parents, while Jacob had left the land for a period of time. Maybe this is the Palestinian’s merit – that they want to live in the land as opposed to many diaspora Jews. But maybe also because on this one moral question which is foundational in the Torah, more Palestinians can answer correctly according to our holy text than can Jews. (Answering the question correctly in such a society may not necessarily be a reflection on sexual morality in practice as there are unfortunately many stories of abuse in the Palestinian culture.)

Irrespective of how one approaches the topic of divine involvement, should Torah observant Jews be concerned and what can we do? Concerned yes, but Israel’s demographics are moving in a more Torah observant direction. Gay couple “birth rates” and family size are obviously not as robust as those of observant families in Israel. Observant Jews and Rabbaim can speak up with truth And with compassion and not be intimidated because in this case though we may not want to Stand with Them (the Palestinians), we can at least acknowledge they answered the survey according to Torah values.

About the Author
Gary Schiff lives in the Washington, DC suburbs. He and his family spent most of their lives in the western US helping manage the nation's forests. He is currently a policy director for a natural resource organization. Fifteen years ago, he was also the president of a conservative synagogue in Nevada. He and his family have increased their learning and observance and the majority of the family has made aliyah.
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