Gay Parade:It’s OK to offend religious Jews

letter-447577_1280

6 b Ellul
The Homosexual Open House in Jerusalem is trying to reschedule the Gay Parade for the week preceding Rosh Hashanah. [Meanwhile, the police nixed it, so as not to offend tourists]. In a revealing interview on Ynet, the Yediot Aharonot internet paper, Noa Sattah, head of the Jerusalem Open House, gave this explanation when asked why the organizers don’t schedule the parade through the Muslim and Christian quarters of Jerusalem.

The YNET journalist Andrew Friedman wrote that he posed the following question to Sattah:

If the homosexual agenda is truly one of “human rights,” what better chance to promote human rights in a (Arab) society in which active homosexuals are often brutally murdered? Why are drag queens on King George Street [in the Jewish area] legitimate but out of bounds for Salah al-Din Street [an Arab thoroughfare]?

Friedman then goes on to observe that

In a moment of uncharacteristic candor, Sattath provided the answer. “We don’t want to offend them [the Arabs],” she told me a couple of weeks ago.
“But many Jews are also offended by the march,” I responded. “Seems to me that means you are careful not to offend Arab residents, but feel it is your right to offend Jewish ones.”

In 5764 I wrote, apropos Parashah Balak, about this problem in the context of Bilaam’s praise of the exceptionally modest family life of Jews (“ma tovu ohalekha Yaakov“). In contrast, I quoted Adrian Mirvish, a professor of philosophy at California State University (Chico, California) who thinks that Israel should promote such “human rights” endeavors as gay marches. In his essay on the mis-match between Arabs and Jews in the mid-East (Midstream January 2002) titled, “On Gay Marches, the Peace Process, and Others” he posed this question:

Can you imagine a large, gay, Arab parade winding its way through the streets of Jericho, Hebron or Nablus? What is the problem? Why can’t this type of event in fact take place? What has all this got to do with the peace process…? The point has been to show that, in order to be an authentic friend, I must accept the other person’s alterity [sic], which is to say his being different from me…

Mirvish completely misunderstands and inverts the conflict between the Jews and Arabs in Israel.

It is the immodest and unacceptable behavior (e.g. the Gay parades) of many in the Jewish sector that is a contributing factor to the ongoing friction here, and that helps prevent a cultural modus vivendi. Peace is probably unattainable and I purposely avoided invoking that term; but a modus vivendi for a given period may be viable if we learn to respect the alterity of the Arabs.

Shira Schmidt

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt was raised in an assimilated Jewish home in New York, and became observant while studying at Stanford University in California. In June 1967 she told her engineering school professor she would miss the final exam because she was going to Israel to volunteer during the Six Day War. “That’s the most original excuse I have ever been offered,” he responded. She arrived during the war and stayed, receiving her BSc in absentia. She subsequently met and married the late Elhanan Leibowitz, and they raised their six children in Beersheba. Mrs. Leibowitz acquired a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the Technion, and an MSc in Civil Engineering from University of Waterloo. Today she lives with her husband, Dr. Baruch Schmidt, in Netanya. She is on the board of the Charedi College of Jerusalem. She co-authored, with Nobel prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann, Old Wine New Flasks. She has co-translated from Hebrew to English (with Jessica Setbon) From the Depths (the autobiography of Rabbi Israel Meir Lau); The Forgotten Memoirs (memoirs of Rabbis who survved the Shoah, edited by Esther Farbstein); and Rest of the Dove (Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Haim Sabato). She s available to lecture in Israel and in the US.

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10 Responses

  1. Baruch Horowitz says:

    A few comments:

    I sometimes have the opportunity to cross Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on Sundays during the spring and summer. There are sometimes parades for different groups a few weeks in a row. I usually have to ask a policeman which ethnic group is marching. However, when I caught sight of the tail end of the Gay Parade, I did not need to ask anyone which group this was. I would not want this happening anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, and certainly not in Yerushalyim Ir Hakodesh. It is certainly not a zechus.

    Regarding America, although Jewish people need to take responsibility for the moral climate, it is a different situation. I wonder how people relate to the issue of supporting liberal politicians who recognize gay or abortion lobbies. I think Assemblyman Dov Hikind(NY Democrat) has made the comment that today, if one would reject politicians based on their support of the secular concept of tolerance for gay and abortion rights, then one would effectively be eliminating many politicians. I think that Orthodox organizations of all stripes sometimes support liberal politicians as well. One has to weigh more than one issue when choosing whom to support. If so, then in America, one must fight the gay and abortion lobbies by opposing legislation and court decisions.

    A tangential comment regarding Heshy Bulman’s(tounge in cheek) comment: “We must spit them out of our midst before the Holy Land of Israel spits us all out, Heaven forbid.” This is of course based on a passuk in the Torah, and I made reference to it in the first paragraph, above. However, I think that there is a limit to this. We can only do hishtadlus and try our best. If Hashem sees that we have done all that we can(big IF), then why would he punish the religious Jews in Eretz Yisrael based on the gay sector, notwithstanding kol yisrael arevim zeh l’zeh?

    It has also been noted in Mishpocha Magazine, that this area might be an opportunity for Religious Zionists and Charedim in Eretz Yisrael to come together on a cause of mutual benefit. A side benefit, then, in opposing the gay movement in Israel would be the achdus generated by coming together on a project of mutual concern to all shomrei torah u’mitzvos.

  2. Norm says:

    Can you please cite more of these very positive midrashim.

  3. Shira Schmidt says:

    7 b Ellul
    I think I failed to get my main point across and that was that the Muslims have some values that Orthodox Jews share: family values (deep reservations against gay parades,abortion,etc.); modest attire for men and women; separation of the sexes and general seriousness at prayer (they don’t talk much in the mosques); tremendous filial piety (putting old folks away in senior citizens homes is almost non-existent); strict adherence to not making images or likenesses of humans, animals, etc. The secular-Zionist-Western-democratic-modern state of Israel has negated many of these values and added to the conflict. [Of course,there are innumerable positive aspects of the secular state of Israel also, e.g.technology, economics, defense, human rights]. I was not so much criticizing the Open House, because I don’t have high expectations that they would respect religious sensitivities. I was more interested in exploring those areas we have in common with Moslems because the discourse about Islam seems to emphasize the negative aspects of Ishmael. There are very positive midrashim and commentaries on Ishmael in Genesis that we rarely hear about. Yes, Ishmael was destined not to be the link to Abraham’s destiny, but he was still Abraham’s flesh and blood. The midrash in Pirkey de Rabbi Eliezer 30 portrays Abraham seeking to let Ishmael know that he is still interested in his son’s life, that he wants his life to be good and happy (with a kind-hearted wife), and that he wants to provide him with whatever material goods he can – given the destiny which God has outlined for him. There are other midrashim on Ishmael’s filial piety that we can emulate.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    If there weren’t so many Jewish voters in New York, Senator Hillary would still be acting like her old self regarding Israel. Makes you suspect she would revert to type as (gasp!) President.

  5. Jacob Haller says:

    “What has all this got to do with the peace process…?”

    One answer to the author’s rhetorical question is EVERYTHING. From the get-go of Oslo everything has been double standards.

    One incident that really slapped me awake was when then first lady Hillary listened in raptured attention to Suha Arafat’s delusions of IDF “atrocities” against Arab youth and instead of rebuking her engaged her in a nice discussion about her formal wear.

    But of course word got out of Hillary’s failure to be the champion of morality she claims to be. She claimed something about Suha’s remarks being censored by the translator but a tape recording demonstrated otherwise. (A remark on par with the one explaining that a donation from the pro-Hizbullah American Muslim Council was accepted because she thought it was the American MUSEUM Council).

    However, what really got my stress working overtime were the attempts of damage control by Hillary’s campaing manager who said with this paraphrase “some people thought Hillary should have walked out on Mrs. Arafat but it’s good she didn’t because that would have damaged the peace process”.

    There you have it. So what damages a peace process? Is it when Arabs repeat literally lethal libel against Jews identical to those which have historically caused pogroms? No! It’s when Jews or Israelis (or their supposedly even-handed arbiters) publicly make it known that we don’t particularly care to be vilified.

  6. HILLEL says:

    Yehoshua:

    The function of Yismael, according to seforim that I have seen, is to wake us up from our slumber–YishMa Kel, HaShem will hear our outcry when we suffer at the hands of YishMaEl.

    So, your idea is not as far-fetched as it sounds. If we fail to heed the warnings of our Torah leaders to stop defiling the Holy Land with these abominations, HaShem will, R”L, unleash YishMael to force us to come to our sense and do TeShuVa.

  7. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Just pass the word on to the Arabs and it will never happen.

  8. HESHY BULMAN says:

    Tounge firmly in cheek, I declare – there is only one solution here: We must spit them out of our midst before the Holy Land of Israel spits us all out, Heaven forbid.
    Tounge slightly withdrawn from cheek – only violence on the part of the Cccharedim (emphasis on the “CH” in order to distinguish from the Haredim, those despicable fanatics who exist primarily in the minds of our tragically uninformed secular brethren) could possibly induce respect for their (our) sensitivities on the part of the civil authorities. Since this is not an option for the true Ben Ya’akov, we can only resort to Tefillah. In anticipation of indignant comments to the effect that violence on the part of certain extremists on the right has indeed been perpetrated in the past, I must emphasize two critical references stated here a) fanatical Haredim exist primarily, but not exclusively, in the minds of the secular, and – b)violence is not an option for the true Ben Ya’akov.

  9. HILLEL says:

    Bob:

    You asked the wrong question.

    The real question is: “Who in the Government is quietly supporting this thing?”

    Without this quiet support of the Israeli version of the ACLU–the New Israel Fund– and of powerful officials in the Israeli government and Court system, this relatively-small group of radical degenerates could not withstand the overwhelming opposition of the majority of religious and secular Jews in Israeli society.

  10. Bob Miller says:

    Who in the government will have the guts to stop this thing?