There can be no better illustration of the lunatic obsession with Israel of the extreme Left than the issue of the treatment of gays and lesbians in Israel and the Arab and Muslim world.
The facts are simple: the majority of Israelis have a liberal Western sensibility. Although there certainly is a fundamentalist minority, they do not in general make the laws and they don’t set the tone in most places. As a result, LGBT people are not subject to discrimination in most venues, homosexuality is not illegal and — except in fundamentalist communities — not subject to social approbation or ostracism.
I think I can say unequivocally that the degree of tolerance for gays and lesbians in a society is directly proportional to the degree to which it is a free society. Israel is an (unfortunately rare) example of how it is possible for a religious tradition which opposes homosexuality to coexist with a temporal authority that does not interfere with the private lives of its citizens. In fact, you could call Israel the San Francisco of the Middle East, or — pardon the expression — the ‘Mecca’ for gay people of any ethnicity in the region.
On the other hand, most of the other countries in the region criminalize homosexuality. In some countries, gay sex is a capital crime. In others, informal sanctions include beatings and even murder.
The New York Times will apparently print anything that is anti-Israel no matter how stupid or illogical — viz. Roger Cohen, Thomas Friedman, and Nicholas Kristoff — or authored by terrorists, like op-eds by Hamas official Ahmed Yousef. Today it gave its anti-Zionist pulpit to Sarah Schulman, an activist from Jewish Voice for Peace, the only Jewish organization to make the ADL’s list of the top ten anti-Israel groups in the nation.
Schulman wants to tell us that it is forbidden to use the facts mentioned above as a pro-Israel argument (this is not surprising, because for the pathological Israel-hater the only good thing about Jewish Israel is the most extreme fringe anti-state Left):
This message is being articulated at the highest levels. In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the Middle East was “a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted.”
The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics “pinkwashing”: a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that “gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool,” even though “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.” [my emphasis]
I would call it a deliberate strategy to point out the truth, that Israel is a modern nation. And the fact that although there is a religious sector that is not comfortable with gay life, nevertheless Israel has managed to create a place where there is a flourishing gay culture — this speaks volumes about the tolerant and free nature of Israeli society.
Pinkwashing not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community, but it also ignores the existence of Palestinian gay-rights organizations.
I am happy to hear that there are Palestinian gay-rights organizations, but it may be more than a few years before there is a Gay Pride parade in Ramallah — and don’t even think about Gaza City! — as there is in Tel Aviv.
In essence, Schulman’s argument is just this: don’t mention the good things about Israel, because it might distract people from the only thing that we want them to think, which is that Israel is denying the Palestinians their human rights.
Of course I believe that the conflict is about the Arab and Muslim nations of the Middle East trying to deny the Jews their human rights. Now let’s see, what good thing about their societies can I think of that will distract people from that?