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In honor of Pride Month, let’s start with the inconvenient truths for LGBTQ individuals and communities in the state of Israel.

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Did you know that in Israel, formally, publicly, and legally, there are:

  • LGBTQ organizations and community centers?
  • LGBTQ pride parades?
  • LGBTQ members of Parliament?
  • LGBTQ soldiers in the military?
  • TV programs with LGBTQ themes?

Did you know that in the Middle East, Israel is a sole safe-haven for LGBT individuals?

  • Many LGBTQ Palestinians seek and often find refuge in Israel after suffering beatings, imprisonment, and almost certain death at the hands of their families, the Palestinian authority police, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. While in Israel, they enjoy freedom from persecution.

In Israel, LGBTQ rights aren’t just a dream, they’re the law.

Take a look at these Israeli landmark decisions in human rights affecting the LGBT community:

  • Israel abolished the decades-old ban on sodomy of any kind in 1988.
  • Discrimination against LGBTQ individuals in the workplace was prohibited by legislation in 1992.
  • The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples in 1994.
  • Both lesbian and gay couples can legally adopt children in Israel.
  • While it is still illegal for same sex couples to be married in Israel, the state of Israel recognized same-sex marriage performed abroad in 2006.
  • Israel passed a law protecting school students from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 2014.

 

And one more section to remind you why the accusation that Israel is a horrific, white, colonialist, apartheid, homophobic, xenophobic country is a travesty and absurd on its face.

Sexual orientation in the Middle East is a matter of life and death. Due to the influence of fundamentalist Islamic beliefs of government officials, and even families, the lives of countless LGBT citizens have been destroyed.

  • In most Middle Eastern countries, police arrest and torture gay men.
  • In many cases, families organize vigilantes to beat and kill gay family members.
  • Palestinians accuse members of their communities of collaborating with Israel, a crime often punishable by death.

As a result, members of the LGBTQ community living in the Middle East are vulnerable to violent attacks.

One Man’s Story:

Tayseer, a 21-year-old Gazan, was caught in bed with his boyfriend by his older brother. He was beaten by his family, and his father threatened to strangle him if it ever happened again. He fled to the West Bank, where he was arrested and forced to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces. When he was released a few months later, Tayseer crossed into Israel. “The Palestinian police will kill me,” he says, “Unless my father gets to me first.”

For more information about these issues and many others that shed light upon the darkness of myopic and blind criticism of Israel, check out www.standwithus.com.

 

And here’s a bonus round.  Ever find yourself struggling to understand HOW to respond to accusations that Israel is a colonialist enterprise? (even if its just you sitting there reading the paper? Magazine article? Listening to a radio show or a podcast?)

Here’s just a few zingers that will help you make the case. Try these on and you’ll feel invincible. You may not change the haters’ minds, but you’ll feel a lot better knowing you are able to defend the state of Israel and yourself by standing up for truth.

  • 95% of Israeli Jews came as refugees with nowhere else to go.  Does this sound like colonialism to you?
  • Israelis come from 60 countries; there is no one country they come from.  Ever heard of colonialism with no mother country?
  • There is an ancient Jewish tradition of belonging to the land.  Every synagogue in the world faces Jerusalem and has done so for 2000 years.  None of Zionism features elements of colonialism.
  • Finally, the only way there will be peace between the Palestinians and Israel will be when the Palestinians come to understand that Israel is a country made of the remnants of the Jewish people following a 2000 year, in the grand view, and a 60 year, in particular, attempt by European and Middle Eastern entities to make the world judenrein (free of Jews) and thus, Israel is going nowhere.

Israel works to guarantee, protect, and defend the human and civil rights of its citizens, at least better than any other Muslim country in the world (not a very high bar) and is NOT only NOT apartheid, its history is a model for most of the countries of the world to follow.  Not because it has always done everything perfectly, above board, and beyond reproach. IT HAS NOT. But because its system indeed allows and requires, that when it fails, the truth comes out.

  • Last "Did you know?" for now: Israeli basic training for soldiers includes several classes on the history of Israeli war crimes, the ways in which legislation was created to protect against repetitions of heinous acts, and a deep study into the Supreme Court decisions for how these laws against war crimes came to be.  Does this sound like a country that purposefully seeks to denigrate the rights of the most vulnerable? Or does it sound more like a really imperfect, but noble effort to strive at abiding by the best a government and society can achieve? 

What exactly is anti-Semitism? Here is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition:

Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” 

Click here for the full text of the definition of anti-Semitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

 

 

 

Fri, July 19 2024 13 Tammuz 5784