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Gay pride - and Israel's, By Bret Stephens (YOU'LL DIE VOMITING)
Jerusalem Post ^ | June 20, 2003 | Bret Stephens

Posted on 06/20/2003 1:23:06 PM PDT by Alouette

Today, June 20, gay and lesbian Israelis will parade through Jerusalem's streets, from City Hall to Independence Park. The march was supposed to have taken place last week; it was postponed after one of its organizers, 47-year-old American immigrant Alan Beer, was murdered by a Hamas suicide bomber aboard Bus 14A.

For those of us who devote a good amount of thought and breath defending Israel from various calumnies - particularly those coming from the hard Left - the fact that this march is taking place at all is excellent news. So Israel is a theocratic state? Show me an equivalent march taking place in Iran or Saudi Arabia. So the Israeli army is an instrument of Fascist oppression? Maybe, but gays and lesbians serve in the IDF's ranks without formal discrimination - more than can be said for the US armed services.

Why, then, should those most opposed to this march be the same people, more or less, who are most ardently "pro-Israel"?

"This is a disgusting parade which has no place in a Jewish state," said Itamar Ben-Gvir, a spokesman for the outlawed ultranationalist Kach movement who also confessed to taking down 30 rainbow-striped flags in downtown Jerusalem. "The gay and lesbian community is a marginal, fringe group, and they must not be given a public stage," added MK Nissim Ze'ev of the haredi Shas party.

I know at least a few people who'd argue that it is Ze'ev and Ben-Gvir, not Beer, who represent a "fringe." But put that argument aside. The question is, when we boast that Israel is "the only democracy in the Middle East" (Turkey honorably excepted), what are we really saying? Exactly how does it distinguish us from our neighbors and enemies? And what obligations does it impose upon Israelis, gay and straight?

ONE WAY to get at these questions is to point to what we're not. For starters, we're not a country that treats homosexuals the way the Palestinian Authority does.

A few months ago, watching the news in the run-up to the Iraq war, I spotted a couple of demonstrators marching to a "Queers for Palestine" banner. Note the preposition. While most of the antiwar marchers were merely against war (even if this meant keeping Saddam Hussein in power), these two were for Palestine. I spent the remainder of the evening trying to think of the nearest equivalent. Blacks for the Old South? Jews for the Ayatollah? "Recovered" homosexuals?

In fact, "recovered" is what Palestinian gays must be if they are to survive in "Palestine." As Yossi Klein Halevi wrote last August in The New Republic, Islamic law prescribes five separate forms of death for homosexuals. To these, the Palestinian Authority adds several of its own. In the West Bank city of Tulkarm, Halevi reports, a young Palestinian homosexual he calls Tayseer "was forced to stand in sewage up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects and other creatures he could feel but not see... During one interrogation, police stripped him and forced him to sit on a Coke bottle. Throughout the entire ordeal he was taunted by interrogators, jailers, and fellow prisoners for being a homosexual."

Tayseer's story is one of hundreds. Halevi also tells the story of one Palestinian homosexual who was put in a pit in Nablus and starved to death over Ramadan; of another whose PA interrogators "cut him with glass and poured toilet cleaner into his wounds"; of a third who lives in fear of his life from his brothers.

"It's now impossible to be an open gay in the PA," says Shaul Ganon of Aguda-Association of Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender in Israel.

All this is of a piece with the broader treatment of homosexuals throughout the Muslim world. The Taliban used to put homosexuals to death by collapsing a wall on them. In Malaysia, the maximum penalty for sodomy is 20 years in prison and "mandatory whipping." In Egypt, an increasingly severe crackdown on homosexuals is now entering its third year. In April, Brazil put forward a gay-rights resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission; Muslim countries successfully filibustered it.

And so on. Of course, everybody knows this, though nobody talks about it much. And of course, everybody knows that Israel is a comparatively receptive place for gays and lesbians, though nobody talks about it much, either. Along with South Africa, France, Ireland, Canada and Spain, Israel has been in the forefront of granting legal protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. So when we say, "We are the only democracy in the Middle East," we are not simply making a statement about our political structure, but about social and cultural attitudes. We are a typical Western state. Nothing demonstrates it better than today's march.

"TYPICAL," HOWEVER, is also problematic. Typical Western states also mass produce and widely disseminate pornography, ingest gigantic quantities of narcotics and generally suffer every plague of affluence. The gay-rights movement, some argue, belongs in this category.

I don't buy this for a second. But I appreciate why the argument is made. "Gay-Pride Parade Sets Mainstream Acceptance Of Gays Back 50 Years," went a headline a few years back in The Onion, a satirical newspaper. "'I'd always thought gays were regular people, just like you and me, and that the stereotype of homosexuals as hedonistic, sex-craved deviants was just a destructive myth'" the paper "quoted" Hannah Jarrett, a fictional 41-year-old mother of four. "'Boy, oh, boy, was I wrong.'"

The Onion gets it exactly. For decades, the basic problem with the gay-rights movement has been that it tended to make opposite demands. It rightly insisted on mainstream acceptance and equal protection of the laws. Insanely, it then proceeded aggressively to flaunt its every difference. The aim, it seemed, was not to join a mainstream in the manner of the black civil rights movement or feminism, but to overthrow the very concept of "mainstream."

The result was to confirm every lurid prejudice about gay life. Sexually promiscuous? Emotionally unstable? Morally suspect? Politically radical? The icons of gay life in the 1970s and 1980s, from Michel Foucault to the Village People to Calvin Klein, all giddily seemed to answer yes.

My guess is that the way in which the gay-rights movement pursued its agenda set it back by at least a decade. That both the IDF and the British military allow openly gay service members ought to have been enough to show that the US armed forces could have done the same - but the gay community bears its share of the blame for making its case such a difficult one to make. Ditto for gay marriage, which only this week was legalized in Canada: This was something that ought to have happened ages ago, if only more of the gay community had been demanding it back then, and if (male) gay relationships did not have a reputation for being so fickle.

Now this is changing. As Andrew Sullivan writes, among gays "a need to rebel has quietly ceded to a desire to belong. To be gay and to be bourgeois no longer seems such an absurd proposition. Certainly since AIDS, to be gay and to be responsible has become a necessity."

Sullivan is right - indeed, has to be right. Those who opposed the gay-rights revolution cannot realistically expect that today's homosexuals will simply be pushed back into the closet. And to preserve existing legal barriers against gays would only perpetuate a gay subculture that is both neurotic and alienating. The only decent conservative alternative is to insist that gay men and women join the social and cultural mainstream - and enact the policies required for them to do so.

WHICH BRINGS me back to Beer. Cleveland-born, a software engineer, "Al" was also an observant Jew who came to Israel five years ago because "it gave him the opportunity to pray as he wanted and live the [Jewish] life he wanted," according to Ze'ev Pertrucci, a former roommate. Interviewed by The Jerusalem Post in 1999, Beer said his homosexuality had presented no obstacles to joining an Orthodox synagogue.

"My understanding of being Orthodox is that there is a long list of mitzvot to keep, which is what I do," he said. "It doesn't bother my being religious."

Testifying in the Knesset the same year, Beer told a parliamentary committee he was "proud of my many identities": Gay, Orthodox, Jerusalemite, Zionist. "People can be both free and holy," he said. Friends recall his "American swagger," his Hawaiian shirts, his passion for cinema, his "infectious laugh," his willingness to volunteer, easygoingness.

Beer was murdered after returning from a shiva call for a friend up north. Had he not been on that bus, he would have marched Friday for gay pride. Would any of us not want him back? And would any of us, really, not have wanted him there?

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Israel; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: antizionist; downourthroats; gay; gayprideparade; homo; homosexualagenda; israel; queer
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The Correct Jewish Approach to Homosexuality
1 posted on 06/20/2003 1:23:06 PM PDT by Alouette
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To: Alouette
Israelis attend a gay pride parade in a park in downtown Jerusalem Friday June 20, 2003. The parade was scheduled for last week but it was postponed after a Palestinian suicide bomber attack in Jerusalem that left 17 people dead.(AP Photo/Enric Marti)

2 posted on 06/20/2003 1:25:13 PM PDT by berserker
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To: Alouette
"This is a disgusting parade which has no place in a Jewish state," said Itamar Ben-Gvir

Hello! This is GOD SPEAKING.

"I agree with your conclusion". "Bless you"

3 posted on 06/20/2003 1:28:38 PM PDT by chachacha
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To: Alouette
"Islamic law prescribes five separate forms of death for homosexuals. To these, the Palestinian Authority adds several of its own. . . . "It's now impossible to be an open gay in the PA,"

This puts a whole new light on Islam. Islam may have gotten something right afterall.
4 posted on 06/20/2003 1:28:57 PM PDT by lilylangtree
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To: Alouette
How could Beer claim to be observant and also be involved in organizing a parade celebrating sodomy?

It's a contradiction in terms. Do Hawaiin shirts conform to shatnes?

5 posted on 06/20/2003 1:37:42 PM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
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To: wideawake
How could Beer claim to be observant and also be involved in organizing a parade celebrating sodomy?

He must like boys in black hats. :(

My oldest son spent several years as a shliach in San Francisco. Many openly gay men attended his synagogue because they liked the rituals and the cuisine. Many of them also hit on my son, and when he didn't return their affections, he was told, "you're in denial."

To this day he is a confirmed FAG-HATER. "Don't call me a homophobe," he snarls, "I'm not afraid of them, but they better be very afraid of ME!"

6 posted on 06/20/2003 1:44:54 PM PDT by Alouette (Why is it called "International Law" if only Israel and the United States are expected to keep it?)
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To: Alouette
"Queers for Palestine"

LOL! A 2003 Darwin Award nominee if ever one was :)

One can only assume that the marchers were looking for some *VERY* rough sex!

Haziz! More crisco for the Camels!!!! :) :)

7 posted on 06/20/2003 1:49:17 PM PDT by dfrussell
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To: Alouette
There was a movie made about homosexual hasidim a couple of years ago called Trembling Before G-d with a klezmer soundtrack released on John Zorn's Tzaddik record label.


BTW, please respond to my FReepmail before sundown. Shabbat Sameach!

8 posted on 06/20/2003 1:49:51 PM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave soldiers and their Commander in Chief)
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To: Alouette
This is clearly unnatural and behavior, obvious to anyone without an ulterior motive. So why are we losing this battle worldwide? On the left, they are so population paranoid that they'll endorse anything that ends a life or stops a life from being created. I think we are really losing it in the political middle where people have some residual moral aptitude but they can't remember why, so they cave if they think a little power can be gained by it.
9 posted on 06/20/2003 1:55:12 PM PDT by RAT Patrol (Congress can give one American a dollar only by first taking it away from another American. -W.W.)
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To: lilylangtree
This puts a whole new light on Islam. Islam may have gotten something right afterall.

Like I said once, Jews in Israel have had more Jews killed by abortion than by arabs. Israel is winning the war against the arabs, it is a fact as long as it is holding on as it has, despite incompetence. However Israel is far from winning the war waged against it by medias which seek its destruction as a rival of attention. Gays are a particular media group of this whole manifestation and they will demand an end to individual expression supressed by gay group impression.

10 posted on 06/20/2003 1:55:49 PM PDT by JudgemAll
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To: Alouette
How could Beer claim to be observant and also be involved in organizing a parade celebrating sodomy?

Frankly, even common sense would not go hand in hand with celebrating sodomy. As for observant and gay, I am sorry, there is no third party in this. Either one is Orthodox or one gangs up against or for Orthodoxy. Third parties always gang up against the Orthodox (that is those who go about the rules of Orthodoxy), for it only is a ruse, just like the third party of peace, which is just a ruse to call Israel warmongering and to gang up with terrorists against Israel.

He must like boys in black hats. :(

I think it is worse than that. Liking boys in black hats is one thing, but passing people through a sexual selection machine is NAzidom Mengele like butchery.

My oldest son spent several years as a shliach in San Francisco. Many openly gay men attended his synagogue because they liked the rituals and the cuisine. Many of them also hit on my son, and when he didn't return their affections, he was told, "you're in denial."

Typical of pure gay race and pure gay piousness Nazi bull crap. They pretend you can consume like them too, but then they pretend they are pure, looking for the gene. It is a sick behavior.

I'm not in denial, I would enjoy seeing them getting hammered by pigs if they asked me.

11 posted on 06/20/2003 2:08:00 PM PDT by JudgemAll
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To: Alouette
Those who opposed the gay-rights revolution cannot realistically expect that today's homosexuals will simply be pushed back into the closet.

The Nazies' aryan race rights were pushed back in the closet after a sick surge in huge popularity. Same ol same ol. The gays will receive the same treatment if they push their "rights" to force young men in "marriages"/sexSlavery, out of which they cannot get out to join a normal life unless sued in a divorce at great expense.

12 posted on 06/20/2003 2:11:11 PM PDT by JudgemAll
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To: JudgemAll
Homosexuality and the Holy Law

by Rabbi David Eidensohn

The issue of homosexuality, soon to be decided by the United States Supreme Court, roils the land. People have privacy, the right to live their life, but society thrives only with family and adherence to biblical mores. The bible considers homosexuality “an abomination.” On the other hand, most Americans, even the 46 percent who consider themselves evangelicals and the millions of Catholics do not accept much or most of the Five Books of Moses. Therefore, the Gay Lobby asks the religious and family advocate, “Why do you invoke the bible when it suits you with homosexuality, and yet eat foods proscribed by the bible?”

What role does the bible play in human affairs? Why should something thousands of years old dictate who can marry? Can people “update” the bible?

Modern physics has accepted the “anthropic principle,” otherwise referred to as the “A” word, meaning the cosmos is designed for people, not for chaos and chance. If the four basic forces of modern physics digressed a bit the world could not exist. The balance of various parts of the atom, an electron circling at the speed of light around the nucleus quarks, depends on physical and mathematical laws. If the nucleus could pull in the electron, the universe would implode and cease to exist. If the electron flying at the speed of light could slip its attachment to the nucleus of the atom, the universe would fly apart and disappear. A similar cosmic precision guides every DNA phase as the double-helix splits and gathers new bases to create life.

If there be an “anthropic principle” and Intelligent Design aimed at making people, why did the Creator of man make our world? We surely cannot invent it or guess it, because to do that would make us compare our minds and will with G-d, something unlikely. We know how limited we are. Surely we cannot invent the mind of G-d. Only G-d can reveal the Mind of G-d. The Jewish people received the Law or Torah from G-d at Sinai 3,000 years ago. All of Israel heard the Ten Commandments. During the Forty Years of the Desert Sojourn, G-d taught Moses and the Jewish people the Written Five Books of Moses and the Oral Law, the Code of rabbinics that govern the interpretation of the Written Law. The bible itself seems, in literal and even working translation, a book with difficult concepts. The Oral Law smooths these over, especially the enormous amount of capital punishments, which are treated more as a warning than an actual punishment.

No Jew, no rabbi, no prophet may ever modify our Sinaitic theology. He may only declare what we received from Moses. The Talmud says, “No prophet may create,” only inspire, predict and perorate us with threats and blandishments. The theology never budges from the basics. The bible does not evolve. My religion is exactly the same one as practiced by Moses and my ancestors. We do not question why the bible proscribes homosexuality or why it is an abomination. After the fact, we may deduce various ideas and seek to understand, but we cannot do much more than that.

This is fine for Orthodox Jews. What of everyone else? They don’t accept the absolute primacy of the bible. Some foreign language speaks to all of us from the flowers and the stars, but we cannot understand it. Thus, people seek religion. For all of human history people have had religions. Even in the French Revolution, Rousseau attacked atheism as “the luxury of the aristocracy.” For most people religion is a reaction to something beyond us, but inside of us. Religion is a very powerful emotion or force, but we cannot clearly describe it. Will such a religion succeed in defining objections to homosexuality? Religion based upon purely subjective feelings as opposed to finite facts will discuss homosexuality with subjective feelings. Can society govern with such obscurity?

The Oral Law and rabbinics designate homosexuality a universal law, meaning that even Noahides or non-Jews may not commit homosexuality. Those who do not accept the bible may nonetheless invoke the proscription of homosexuality because it violates a basic tenet of humanity, the most sacred human relationship of marriage. Ultimately, however, each person must either invoke the authority of the bible directly, or, failing this, must explain why this particular law is sacred while other biblical laws are not. This is done by demonizing homosexuality and setting it apart from other sins, such as eating ham and shrimp. However, once the pro-family position is expressed by labeling homosexuality in secular terms as unnatural or perverse, we change the terms of the debate from the will of G-d to the determination of people. We willingly decide that homosexuality is unnatural and perverse, and then invoke the bible. Others can disagree with our assumptions, and do.

The enormous agitation in major Western religions between liberal and conservative is a war that will never end, because Western religions are created by individuals and debated by others. As long as there is no sacrosanct bible and Code to interpret it, there will be differences. Indeed, the founding principle of Western religion is that mortals coming thousands of years after Sinai may disagree with both the Written and Oral law given at Sinai. A religion founded in innovation and progress will never survive an attempt to arrest innovation and progress. The enormous battles going on now in Catholicism and Protestantism are nothing new. It has always been this way, except that in earlier generations the variant sects attempted to settle their differences with the sword. The secular society is the answer to continual social destruction, and there is no other solution. Therefore, when the religious right attempts to impose its moral views by making America a religious country, people rightfully tremble and seize hold tight of secularism. This is why the Gay Lobby succeeds. The religious right buries itself on this issue by expressing itself in religious terms, insinuating that a vote against the Gay Lobby is a vote for religious values in government, and ultimately, a return to the terror of the past between religious believers. Contrast our failings in the homosexual issue to the successes of the Right to Life movement. A Catholic doctor had the good sense to make abortion a non-sectarian cause. The religious right refuses to do this with the Gay issue, and it is badly losing, not only this issue, but its entire status in society. The great hope of the Gay Lobby is for someone to get up and say that religion must take back America .

Homosexuality is tearing all Western religions apart, and as time goes on, the debate will grow. Those who battle the Gay Lobby must fight inside the religious community as well as the secular gay lobby outside of it. How painful it is when secularists, intellectuals and media types outside of the religious community hurl missives at the family activists from religious people. The issue therefore is first the authority of the bible and secondly, general values. All is focused on the homosexual issue. At stake are the status of homosexuality in our society and the status of the bible. If the gays succeed, the bible will become a hate book. If the biblical people advance, homosexuals will not be able to consider themselves married, and will not achieve some of their goals.

Inherent in the religious treatment of homosexuality is the future of Western religion. Will it remain rooted in the Sinaitic Revelation, or will it turn to the Eastern call of mysticism without the clear details? The universe reveals man, but hides his purpose. Spirituality awakens the soul but does not speak clearly to the mind. Thus, the bible with its specifics is usually ignored. Transcendence is translated by individuals; the new religion enters the world determined to spread Truth. When religions clash, society trembles. The impossible situation of religious warfare then pushes society against religions, and secular barriers are posted to secure civilization. One who believes that G-d spoke the prohibition of homosexuality has nothing against homosexuals. One who denies that G-d said this but nonetheless proscribes homosexuality must add to homosexuality some secular or cultural onus, and demonize it.

The Talmud is the Oral Law that interprets the Written Law, or the Five Books of Moses. Bar Kaporo, a rabbi of about two thousand years ago, said that the Hebrew word for “abomination” used regarding homosexuality is an acronym for “you are lost in it.” Abomination in the English has a connotation of something repulsive. TOEIVO in the Hebrew is surely a vile thing, but the Oral Law adds “you are lost in it” to indicate a twist on the onus of homosexuality. Sexuality far removed from the holiness of marriage is a very sensitive thing. The spirit is searching for resolution. The fire of biology needs peace. Some forms of sexuality supply neither resolution nor peace. Some homosexuals do find some peace and resolution with a partner, but in general homosexuality is a sexual style of the traveler, seeking but not finding. Some homosexuals go from partner to partner, meeting utter strangers in the street, mating without any delicacy, sometimes through holes in toilet walls. This is more than sin. This is the soul adrift in pain. A prominent gay writer of a conservative bent was recently horribly humiliated when some of his own kind found his e-mail address on some perverse Internet sites. For some reason I cannot fathom, they decided that since he was a conservative he deserved to be publicly revealed, as if only liberal gays deserve privacy and self-respect. Many people are “lost in it,” such as the highly respected Dean of Divinity at Harvard whose downloads in his computer did him in.

We don’t resolve Homosexuality by calling names. “You are lost in it” means that we have to help people find their way back. This is an integral issue of the Gay battle. The Gay Lobby wants to remain “lost” and declares that nobody can return from homosexuality. When Dr. Epstein, the editor of Psychology Today, allowed an ad from NARTH about therapy for homosexuals, the Gay Lobby threatened him. Central to their program is that a) no gay can change and b) no gay should change. Both are lies. However, the Surgeon General of the United States , not long ago, released a report backing the open lie that gays cannot change. This was only a few weeks after Dr. Joseph Spitzer of Columbia released a study showing that homosexuals can change. If they can change, should they? Or should they remain “lost in it”? Common sense says that every effort should be made to allow homosexuals relief from their substantial pain. As one lesbian said, “I adopted children, and hope that they will not be gay.”

The homosexual issue cannot be fought on religious grounds in the West, for the simple reason that religion is too confused. One study showed that over eighty percent of Protestant clergy did not accept the basic tenets of its theology. Editor David Kupelian wrote an article about this for World Net Daily. “When asked whether they believed that the Old and New Testament Scriptures were the ‘inspired and inerrant Word of God in faith, history and secular matters,’ mainline ministers responded "NO" in overwhelming numbers:

* Episcopalians, 95 percent

* Methodists, 87 percent

* Presbyterians, 82 percent.”

The Catholic Church is swimming in confusion. To tie the battle against the Gay Lobby to such murkiness is to destroy it. This is not to say that people who believe religiously that homosexuality is wrong should not summon their minions to do battle to preserve the family and biblical values. The tactics of the battle, however, must be secular. What are they?

The Gay Lobby is itself a religion, whereby homosexuals are privileged to infect thousands of others and the state does not interfere. “We are what we are.” You cannot argue with a Gay. You must do exactly what they demand, or else. You cannot ask why HIV Confidentiality Laws exist when they result in huge epidemic and terrible waste of lives and money. The Gay Religion has spoken. If you disagree with Gay you must be silenced. You are mentally ill, and must be cured. Hater, homophobe, inciter, you must be removed from influence over your children. The Gay Lobby is a global religion whose tentacles protrude in public schools, your television set, the liberal media, teaching your children to despise you, to spurn you, to reject you. The Gay Religion wars against the bible, against the family community. The Gay Lobby is one of the most fanatic of all world religions, dominating with determined and vigorous hate all who stand before it. If we don’t get our act together, if we don’t apply ourselves to defending America and our freedom to be religious and biblical, the gays will take our children and everything else we hold to be sacred.

13 posted on 06/20/2003 2:23:28 PM PDT by Alouette (Why is it called "International Law" if only Israel and the United States are expected to keep it?)
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To: wideawake
There was a movie made about homosexual hasidim a couple of years ago called Trembling Before G-d with a klezmer soundtrack released on John Zorn's Tzaddik record label.

Dissembling Before G-d
by Rabbi Avi Shafran
Am Echad Resources
October 26, 2001

Orthodox Jewish homosexuals are the subject of a documentary film that achieved darlinghood at a number of film festivals over the past year and has now been similarly well-received at its New York debut. Many audiences and reviewers have found "Trembling Before G-d"'s portrayal of the anguish faced by Jews who want to remain Orthodox but see themselves as homosexual to be compelling.

And on one level the film might well be regarded as a tribute to the determination of heartfelt Jews who, despite the catastrophic clash of their desires and their faith, nevertheless find themselves simply unable to abandon the latter. The Jewish soul is indeed a hardy, holy thing.

Unfortunately, though, "Trembling" seems to have other intents as well. While it never baldly advocates the case for broader societal acceptance of homosexuality or for the abandonment of elements of the Jewish religious tradition, those causes are subtly evident in the stark, simplistic picture the film presents of sincere, conflicted and victimized men and women confronted by a largely stern and stubborn cadre of rabbis.

That picture is both incomplete and distorted. For starters, the film refuses to even allow for the possibility that men and women with homosexual predilections might - with great effort, to be sure - achieve successful and happy marriages to members of the opposite sex.

Though he interviewed hundreds of subjects for the project, producer Sandi Simcha DuBowski claims to have been unable to find any such people.

Therapist Adam Jessel, though, writing in the Jerusalem Post, says there are many, and recounts how he attended a screening of the film with precisely such a person - a man, it turned out, who was actually interviewed by DuBowski but whose experience was not included in the film. Jessel also quotes another man who reported that DuBowski, with whom he spoke by phone, "told me he doesn't believe in change. He didn't seem to be interested in meeting any Jews who were in the process of change either."

Such change is more common that most people realize. An organization - JONAH ( - has been helping Jews, both Orthodox and otherwise, who wish to overcome homosexual orientations, and has met with considerable success. Neither it nor any of its clients are featured or mentioned in "Trembling."

What is more, and even more important, is that while the film thoroughly portrays the challenges faced by its subjects, it simply does not allow Judaism to make its case. Several prominent Orthodox rabbis were interviewed at length by DuBowski, but only short excerpts are included in the film.

One of those rabbis, Rabbi Aharon Feldman, currently the dean of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, says that the film fails to convey the deep compassion with which thoughtful Orthodox Jews regard those who are challenged with a homosexual orientation. The film, he asserts, "makes us appear to be narrow and bigoted" when, in fact, "it is compassion, albeit without condoning" that accurately describes Orthodoxy's attitude toward homosexuality.

That attitude reflects the fact that no sexual orientation itself is condemned by the Torah. Axiomatic to Jewish law is that only acts and willful attitudes (like nurturing desires that are wrong) can be prohibited, not inherent proclivities. Behavior, though, in every area of human life and endeavor, is carefully delineated by Jewish religious law. That is Judaism. And controlling behavior, even - no, especially - when difficult, is precisely what the Torah asks of its adherents.

That's not, however, the film's attitude, which is better summed up by one of its subjects, Rabbi Steve Greenberg, billed as "the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi." Addressing the Torah's strong prohibition of male homosexual acts, he suggests to the camera, without elaboration: "There are other ways of reading the Torah." What Rabbi Greenberg apparently believes is that elements of the Jewish religious tradition are negotiable, that the Torah, like a Hollywood script, can be sent back for a rewrite. That approach can be called many things, but "Orthodox" is not among them.

DuBowski has told the press that his experiences in making his film have made him more religious, that he has experienced Shabbat for the first time and laid tefillin. Such Jewish growth is no small thing, and is a true tribute to the man. May he continue to grow as a Jew, and to learn more about Jewish ideals and observance. And may he also come to understand why his film, whether or not it is a critical success, misleads.

Because "Trembling Before G-d" wrongly answers the most important Jewish question imaginable: Is Judaism is about what we'd like God to do to accommodate us, or about what we are honored, exalted and sanctified to do to obey Him?

14 posted on 06/20/2003 2:34:18 PM PDT by Alouette (Why is it called "International Law" if only Israel and the United States are expected to keep it?)
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To: 1bigdictator; 2sheep; a_witness; agrace; American in Israel; Anamensis; anapikoros; Ancesthntr; ...
15 posted on 06/20/2003 2:47:18 PM PDT by Alouette (Why is it called "International Law" if only Israel and the United States are expected to keep it?)
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To: Alouette
They could always move to Key West:
Posted on Mon, Jun. 16, 2003 story:PUB_DESC
FULL OF PRIDE: About 2,000 people hold the flag made by Gilbert Baker, who created the gay icon 25 years ago. ANDY NEWMAN/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU
FULL OF PRIDE: About 2,000 people hold the flag made by Gilbert Baker, who created the gay icon 25 years ago. ANDY NEWMAN/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU

After the rain, the sun pierced the clouds, setting the perfect stage for a rainbow. And then it appeared, all 116,800 square feet of it, unfurled from a U-Haul at one end of Key West's Duval Street, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

''We did it, we've done it,'' red-faced volunteers whooped as they learned that the 16-foot-wide, 1.3-mile-long rainbow flag, the longest to date, made it from sea to sea. ``We made history.''

The flag was unfurled at midday and carried by some 2,000 people, creating a surreal paint-like stripe along the main vein of this island.

It took three months, six sewing machines and three tons of fabric to make the banner, created to commemorate the first rainbow flag, a symbol of gay, lesbian and bisexual pride born in San Francisco a quarter of a century ago.

Coordinating the event was Gilbert Baker, a former GI turned drag queen turned seamstress who made the first rainbow flag for a 1978 gay-rights parade.

The flag has since been adopted worldwide as a symbol of gay pride, eclipsing other icons such as the Greek lambda sign and the pink triangle first used in Nazi Germany to identify homosexuals.

In 1994, Baker sewed a mile-long flag that was marched down New York's First Avenue, to commemorate the Stonewall riots, a series of violent conflicts between homosexuals and New York City police officers in 1969. It was a catalyst for the gay-rights movement.

Now 53, Baker is known as the ''gay Betsy Ross'' to some.

In November, he agreed to make a 25th anniversary flag that would stretch 'coast to coast' across Key West.

Two original colors, turquoise and fuchsia, were added, restoring the banner to its eight-color glory.

Sunday's event capped Key West's PrideFest week and drew a crowd as colorful as the headlining flag.

Among them: Zelda Angelfire, a six-foot-tall drag queen from Toronto wearing a gravity-defying blond bouffant, red ostrich feathers, and silver and gold lamé heels.

''The rainbow flag is a unifying symbol, when gay and lesbians see it, they know they are welcome,'' said Angelfire.

John Mahaney, 53, of Key West, dressed his dog, Bingo, a German shepherd and Whippet mix, in a rainbow-hued visor and matching party beads. ''If it was a more formal event, he would've worn pearls,'' Mahaney said.

Volunteers, outfitted in white shirts emblazoned with the logo of Absolut Vodka, the undertaking's main sponsor, were placed every 10 feet.

Key West's mayor, Jimmy Weekly, announced to cheers that he would hang a rainbow flag in City Hall. A pastor from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church blessed the crowd.

At Baker's side was his roommate and friend of 30 years, Cleve Jones, the man who created the Names Project AIDS memorial quilt.

''We both do big fabric,'' Jones said.

Whether the Guinness World Records will acknowledge the flag is not yet known, though Baker said the record keepers recognized his 1994 feat.

From the middle of Duval Street, it was impossible to see either end of the flag: the overall view was limited to people who swooped by in helicopters and the transfixed onlookers who cheered from the rooftop of the island's tallest building, La Concha hotel.

It took two hours to fully unfold the flag. A moment of anxiety came about 1:30 p.m., when it seemed there were not enough volunteers to unfurl the whole thing. But patrons from nearby bars responded to calls for help.

At 2 p.m., the long process began of folding the flag into halves, then quarters then eighths. It was snaked back into Baker's workshop at Duval and Amelia streets, where it will be divided, along prepared seams, into pieces and shipped to 120 cities around the world.

At the end, Baker was elated, and said he was forever indebted to Key West.

''In the world of [flag design], known as vexillography, there is a saying that I embrace,'' he said. ' `A true flag can never be designed, it is torn from the souls of the people.' ''

16 posted on 06/20/2003 3:10:17 PM PDT by Catspaw
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Comment #17 Removed by Moderator

To: Alouette

Another proud marcher. Barf
18 posted on 06/20/2003 3:37:39 PM PDT by WackySam ("The last time the French asked for 'more proof' it came marching into Paris under a German flag.")
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Comment #19 Removed by Moderator

To: WackySam

20 posted on 06/20/2003 4:12:16 PM PDT by Alouette (Why is it called "International Law" if only Israel and the United States are expected to keep it?)
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