This Thursday (Aug 2), thousands of gay Jews and their allies will gather in Jerusalem for the annual Gay Pride parade. I went last year and it was a exuberant celebration by a flourishing and essential faction of modern Israeli society. However there were 2 big differences between this and other similar parades. First of all, the entire route is lined with soldiers toting machine guns to ‘protect’ us not from the Muslims but from the ultra orthodox Jews. A few years ago a girl was stabbed and killed during the parade. You can hear the extremists screaming angrily through megaphones in the distance but you cannot see them. This is a common practice in all of Israel’s demonstrations. By separating the groups they radicalize them, and it is one of many techniques of Israel’s police state that the security ‘experts’ at the ADL and SPLC want to import into the US. Fortunately Sacha Baron Cohen’s Erran Morad effectively skewers these experts and is making us think twice when they tell us how best to handle ‘terrorists’.
The other big difference is the presence of the Pinkwashers. These are gay men who proudly promote their connection to the IDF, which is the force that occupies the Palestinian lands and instigates them to violence. They wear pink ‘Proud Pinkwasher’ t-shirts and will no doubt return this year. They are currently the majority, but the tide is turning, and ultimately gays will have to decide which side they are on.
I am currently banned on both Facebook and Twitter for posts critical of Pinkwashing. This is of course extremely hurtful, as I am a strong supporter of gay rights. I hate that people think I am homophobic. But on the other hand I see it as a sign of desperation and weakness. This is the last significant bastion of IDF support and it will fall.
Gays and the ultra-orthodox despise each other. They are at war in Israel. This is not obvious but soon will be. Recently Israel passed a discriminatory surrogacy bill that denies subsidies for single fathers, which effectively disadvantages gays. The Israelis came out by the thousands recently to demonstrate in support of the gays. But there is a deep conundrum here because the fact is, the bulk of the spending will go towards the ultra-religious, who will be raised to hate gays. Really we should be demonstrating against subsidies in their entirety. The haredi already have huge families and don’t need any more kids, who we end up having to support anyway. It is very self-destructive. However much of our behavior lately has been self-destructive, across all Jewish factions. For example, in the UK the Jews are united against Corbyn for rejecting the expansive IHRA definition of antisemitism. But Corbyn is right in this case (the definition has been roundly rejected in the US). The result will be that the Labour Party turns against the Jews.
But the main controversy is over Pinkwashing, which Israel exploits to legitimize the occupation. They can say, “All the other countries in the region throw gays off rooftops, but in Israel they serve equally in the army.” Certainly, this a compelling narrative that makes the country seem modern and just. However the recent ‘Nation-State’ law drops the pretense of equality. The truth is, people are welcome in Israel only to the extent that they serve in the army and show a willingness to torture and kill children. The Druze complained bitterly about being excluded under the law, and rightly so. The response by the government was, “OK then anyone who serves in the army will be considered Israeli.” But this is no way to define a state, not least of which because many haredi refuse to serve. The result will be preposterous and disastrous, though it will certainly entertaining to watch.
Now the haredi are ramping up their protests to serving in the IDF, and Israel is ramping up all the same techniques against them as they did against the Palestinians for decades, including instigating fights, false allegations of stone throwing, and collective punishment. Little girls yell at the Women of the Wall, who in turn retaliate with, “Shouting is violence.” Israel will not hesitate for a second to turn their machine guns against the haredi, even though like the Palestinian kids, they are completely defenseless. Many gays will no doubt pile on, with pink or rainbow colored guns to prove how enlightened we are.
Meanwhile in the US, a gay man, who was gay-married and had an adopted daughter, burned himself alive in a Brooklyn Park. Equality is not all it’s cracked up to be, and we should be careful what we wish for.
The haredi accuse the gays of being ‘miserable’. This is horribly insulting, but at the same time we must grapple with some deep questions about the nature and purpose of humanity. Should we be having sex or fearing G_d? Perhaps a little of both? We could easily walk into Mea Shearim and talk to the residents, as I did many times when I lived in Jerusalem last year. Yet in general we don’t – instead we retreat to our own echo chambers and plot to gain control of the government through ‘democracy’ and use our power to subjugate the opposition. However the fact is, we created the mess with the ultra-orthodox by subsidizing their dysfunction for decades. We must take responsibility for fixing the problem compassionately. There would be no ‘pride’ in standing over black-hatted dead bodies, nor can pinkwashing conceal a massacre.