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Friday, June 22, 2007

Israel pride parade

http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/06/israel-pride-parade.html

The gay pride parade in Jerusalem turned into an Israeli pride parade. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where this parade could be held. Queers for Palestine should consider what would happen if they held such a parade in Gaza City.
 
Ami Isseroff
 
 
By Bradley Burston
 

JERUSALEM - I'm proud of the State of Israel. It may have more faults per capita than any nation in the world, faults which are duly broadcast, rerun, critiqued, and condemned as nowhere else. It may have more critics per capita than anywhere else in the world, in particular among its majority population of restive, instinctively kvetching, eternally disappointed Jews.
 
I know every criticism by heart. I'll see your every damning denunciation, and raise you 10. But I am proud of this country, and the gay pride parade in Jerusalem goes a long way toward explaining why.
 
I am proud of a country which - under the burden of a 24/7 threat of Islamic Jihad terrorism, under a daily Hamas barrage of Qassam missiles on a small town in the Negev, under an explicit Iranian threat of erasure in the future and client militia brushfire wars in the near present - deploys 8,000 police, nearly half of its entire active-duty force, to protect a parade in Jerusalem by a minority group that is routinely denigrated by many members of two of the holy city's largest and most vocal communities: the ultra-Orthodox and the Palestinians.
 
I am proud of the gay community, which made strenuous efforts to assure that the parade would be held in areas far from the ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods and other areas where the march would serve to offend residents.
 
I am proud of the police for standing up to yeshiva students who, screaming "Nazis! Nazis! Nazis!" at the officers, pelted them with rocks, bottles, angle iron and Molotov cocktails, all the while breaking windows, smashing streetlights, and setting fire to tires and garbage dumpsters.
 
I am proud of ultra-Orthodox rabbis and yeshiva masters, who, though appalled by the parade and what they see as the abomination of homosexuality, publicly and unequivocally forbade their students from taking part in violent demonstrations.
 
I am proud of a country that scorns the slimy Meir Kahane disciple Itamar Ben-Gvir when he screams at gay celebrants in a Tel Aviv parade "the Nazis should have finished you off."
 
I am proud of the policeman on King David Street who, when asked by a passing pre-schooler about the flag with the rainbow colors, replied, "There are boys who love boys, and girls who love girls."
 
I am proud of a country in which the army's influential radio station airs the views of the daughter of the prime minister when she states that the right of gays and lesbians to march in their capital city is as inherent as their right to vote.
 
Just as I am proud of Israel's last Eurovision song contest winner, an acclaimed diva who began life as a man, who told a television interviewer why she believed that in the interest of respect for the holy city, the parade should not be held there.
 
And I am proud, as well, of the fact that Israel Television gave air time to a rabbi to explain his strong opposition to the march, and to the woman anchor who, asked by the rabbi what she would do if her son told her she was gay, said that she would hold him and be grateful for his openness.
 
There are many who argue that a Jewish country cannot countenance a public celebration of homosexuality. It is time for them to take the advice of leading rabbis, who placed this announcement in the Lithuanian Haredi newspaper, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post:
 
"Demonstrating should be done by each person in his place [by feeling outrage in the soul, by praying and beseeching (God) against the loathsome blasphemy]."
 
All of us who live here have our personal list of obscenities, perversions and abominations, as committed by our fellow Jewish residents of Israel. We may find their actions politically abhorrent, culturally unbearable, spiritually bankrupt, personally offensive.
 
They are a big part of the price of living in this country, riven along fault lines dividing and enraging left and right, secular and religious, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi, sabra and immigrant.
 
It may be the built-in flaw of a Jewish homeland, this infighting among the Jews it has brought home.
 
But as the gay pride parade proves, the most profound strength of a Jewish country are those Jews who strive to learn to live with the Jews with whom they so profoundly differ.
 
We're here. By definition, we are all of us, each in our own ways, queer. We should, all of us for our own reasons, be proud.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2007/06/israel-pride-parade.html. Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.

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