There’s been a lot of news lately about how the Left embraces radical Islam, on the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend (or, at least, my useful tool). You can see this sordid embrace at work in Daniel Pipe’s debate with London Mayor Ken Livingston, and you can see it deconstructed in this Paul Weston article.
What I’m seeing lately, though, is special interest groups on the Left having a harder and harder time coming to terms with radical Islam. The first crack in the harmony between the Left and Islam is, I think, going to be amongst gays, because Islam reacts with such ferocity to homosexual displays. Periodically the SF Chronicle, which has a large and interested gay audience, runs stories about gay rights in the Middle East and these stories, of neccesity, always come down strongly on Israel’s side — as does this most recent report:
A 21-year-old university student with serious professional ambitions, Nawal wouldn’t dream of performing in his hometown, where homosexuality, as in the rest of the Palestinian territories, is strictly taboo, sometimes violently so. Last year, a group of gay Palestinians visiting East Jerusalem from the United States were threatened and one of them badly beaten after they announced plans to join an Israeli gay pride rally. The Web site of ASWAT, an organization of Palestinian gay women, says Palestinian society “has no mercy for sexual diversity and/or any expression of ‘otherness’ away from the societal norms and the assigned roles that were formed for women. … The Palestinian woman has no right to choose an identity other than the one enforced on her by the male figures in her family and surroundings.”
So for Nawal and his friends, the only place where they can pursue a full social life is across the border in Israel.
In Israel, the status of gays and lesbians is more comparable with Western Europe.
As the British gay magazine Attitude approvingly reported in December: “Workplace discrimination against gay people is outlawed; the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has many openly gay members; in schools, teenagers learn about the difficulties of being gay and the importance of treating all sexualities equally. The country’s army, the Israel Defense Force, has many dozens of openly gay high-ranking officers who, like all gay soldiers in its ranks, are treated equally by order of the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that gay couples are eligible for spousal and widower benefits.
“Nearly all mainstream television dramas in Israel regularly feature gay storylines. When transsexual Dana International won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest as Israel’s representative, 80 percent of polled Israelis called her ‘an appropriate representative of Israel.’ ”
But compared to gay Palestinians who don’t make it to Israel, Freddy and Nawal are among the lucky ones, said Haneen Maikey, coordinator of the Palestinian Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual Project at a Jerusalem gay center.
“It’s actually becoming more difficult for gay Palestinians,” said Maikey, 28, whose center organizes a Pride rally every year. “It’s a collective and closed community in which some parts are very religious with a small village atmosphere. Every step toward coming out will get you another step back to the closet.”
Many gays and lesbians who happily appear at rallies draped in their PC kufiyahs, are going to have to do some serious self-examination as they decide whether they want the freedom loving West, capitalist warts and all, or if they are so hostile to the West that they’d rather embrace a culture that would happily and enthusiastically see them dead.