Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Middle East Gay Pride and LGBT Safety Exist Only in Israel

June 10, 2013 12:38 am 2 comments

Gay pride parade in Tel Aviv. Photo: wiki commons.

Tel Aviv just hosted its 15th annual Gay Pride Festival, attended by a record-breaking 100,000 spectators and participants, including some of Israel’s most powerful politicians. Here is The Times of Israel report on the event:

“Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai kicked off the festivities with a speech that reflected on the journey since the first annual Pride Parade, which he emceed in 1998…[T]he finance minister [said] that every couple, gay or straight, has the right to get married and have children [and mentioned] his…party’s ‘deep indebtedness’ to the LGBT community.

“Also addressing the crowd, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro [said] ‘There’s no better place to celebrate than in Tel Aviv, the friendliest city in the world to the LGBT community,’ he said. ‘We learned from Israel to let our troops serve in the military without having to hide who they love,’ Shapiro added…

“Thousands of tourists flocked over the past week to Tel Aviv, which has featured large-scale parties and functions all leading up to Friday’s main event. Among the notable foreign visitors, the first gay couple to legally marry in France [arrived] to celebrate their nuptials and join in the festivities.”

The event demonstrates that Israel’s culture of tolerance equals (and often surpasses) that of North America and Western Europe. It’s astounding that such a liberal society could survive in a Middle East so violently contrary to Israel’s democratic values. To understand just how unlikely Israel’s Gay Pride Festival is, consider how LGBT individuals fare in the rest of the Middle East.

Sexual minorities are as unwelcome in the Middle East as are religious minorities. Just as the Muslim-majority countries of the Middle East are generally hostile to Christians, Jews, Bahá’ís, Zoroastrians, and other religious minorities, they are even less welcoming of non-heterosexuals. Except in Israel. And yet it is Israel — absurdly enough — that is consistently singled out for excoriation by human rights groups, college campus activists, and other ostensibly well-meaning individuals.

Where was their outrage after Lebanese police attacked and beat LGBT club-goers last May only because of their sexual orientation? Of course, such abuse is hardly surprising when even in Turkey (which calls itself a democracy), Islamists last May attacked a group of couples in a Turkish metro station staging a ‘kissing protest’ against the ‘morality campaign’ by their government. One person was stabbed when about 20 Islamists chanting “Allah Akhbar,” some carrying knives, attacked the demonstrators. One can only imagine the protesters’ fate had they been same-sex couples kissing. Given that Turkey used to be a staunchly secular country, the creeping Islamist trends fostered by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan helps to explain the recent unrest in Turkey.

What else did the politically correct detractors of Israel fail to protest in the Middle East last month? How about the two young Moroccan men who were jailed by a court in Temara for four months for being homosexuals? Indeed, in most of the Middle East, homosexuality is a crime. Where are the protests and divestment movements?

According to a 2012 report on state-sponsored homophobia by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), 78 countries criminalize consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. The ILGA notes that such acts are punishable by death in five countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran (which has executed over 4,000 people for homosexuality since 1979).

The Pew Research Center just released a report titled “The Global Divide on Homosexuality.” The study asked people in 39 different countries for their views on homosexuality and found that Sub-Saharan African and Muslim-majority countries are the least accepting of gays.

For anti-Israel bigots these inconvenient facts don’t matter because only Israel is worth criticizing and Israel can never do anything good unless there is some evil motive involved. Thus, these Israel-haters claim that Israel is “pinkwashing” its conflict with the Palestinians by highlighting its progressive treatment of sexual minorities (as if doing so had any chance of diminishing the media’s boundless obsession with Palestinian victimhood).

Israelis long ago stopped caring what these perpetual haters say and instead focus on building a better society within the confines imposed by the brutally intolerant and backward region in which they live. When the pinkwashers find their true moral compass and courage, they can organize large flotillas of LGBT members and sail towards Iranian and Saudi ports, where they can vociferously protest for the rights of sexual minorities. Good luck with that.

The rest of the world should recognize Israel for the miracle that it is: an oasis of progressive tolerance, civil liberties, and true diversity — all protected by democratic traditions and institutions — despite the desert of oppression, hostility, and intolerance surrounding the tiny country.

Noah Beck is the author of TheLast Israelis, a submarine thriller about Iranian nukes that also explores the issue of gays in the Israeli navy.

2 Comments

  • None so blind who does not want to see.
    None so deaf who does not want to hear.
    None so mute who does not want to speak up.
    A good article. A “correct” world whose credo is the above, may one day rue.
    Israel is and will always be a shiny beacon in this dismal world.

  • Very good point. Stand up for individual rights

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israelis Venture to Cleveland for NBA Finals

    Israelis Venture to Cleveland for NBA Finals

    JNS.org – The people who sat in seats one and two of row 12, section 120 at Quicken Loans Arena during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night weren’t your ordinary Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Tomer Hulli and his father, Eli, made the trip from Israel to attend games 3 and 4 in Cleveland. Tomer, who lives in Tzur Moshe, a 25-minute drive north of Tel Aviv, has been playing basketball since he was 5. Hulli said he didn’t plan this […]

    Read more →