“Not Gay – But Supportive!”


A “Straight” perspective on the parallel non-heterosexual world

My parade shirt – designed and hand-painted by my daughter

I am writing this, fresh from participating in the largest parade of Gay Pride ever to take place in Israel. Yesterday, tens of thousands of people – some say 100,000 – paraded through the streets of Tel-Aviv in a noisy procession, celebrating and, at the same time, promoting, their right to be different.

But I am not Gay, so why was I there?

Well, let me say that one’s attitude to, and awareness of,  the existence and activities of the Gay community is strongly influenced by having a family member who is not a part of the “straight” community. Those of us that find ourselves in this situation are still a relatively small proportion of the total population. This means that the majority continues to view the Gay section of society with a mixture of ignorance, fear, distrust, suspicion and loathing.

Other than what they see or read in the media, they have little or no understanding of Homosexuals, Lesbians, Bi- sexuals or Transgender individuals.

So it is unfortunate that their awareness level of the existence of such people is only raised by the advent of parades such as this. For the image of the Gay community, as projected by these  processions and events, is a distortion. The decorated floats blaring out loud music, and the gyrating semi-naked dancers, are certainly eye-catching, and make for great visual images on the evening news.

But this is only a small part of the community, albeit the most publicised.

Frankly, I was astonished at the huge numbers of photographers and cameramen, both professional and amateur, that this event attracted. There is something visually stimulating about the rainbow flags, and all the other rainbow coloured paraphernalia. But there were also a number of other flags being waved, in rainbow variations

Each group has its own colour theme, including a flag in various stripes of grey, representing the “asexuals”. And I was personally amused to see a contingent from Great Britain waving a Union Jack in various shades of pink!

I was also struck by the presence of the  small group of ” Parents of Gay children” with their own flag. I know that, for many of them, it was very hard to face up to, and deal with,  the new reality in  their lives.  Traditional concepts and values are difficult to overcome, so I salute them for the support they give, to their families and to others.

Unfortunately, I have personal knowledge of some cases where this was not so. Parents who could not overcome their prejudices, and placed religious belief, or simple ignorance,  before the well being of their son or daughter.

It is an attitude which I find impossible to comprehend.

Not like this in Safed itself!

The reality of a Gay relationship is an incident I witnessed on the fringes of the parade. I found myself next to a male couple, one of whom had a little boy perched on his shoulders, to better see the floats. Suddenly the child reached across to his other “father” and gave him a big hug and a kiss – a regular family!

This little scene encapsulates another, and I think much more important element;  the fact that a same sex couple, in Israel can adopt, or even via surrogate births, enjoy the ability to have a complete family.

I know that I am not alone in feeling that, to some extent, the flamboyant and open sexuality, exhibited in parades like this, are counter productive to the cause of equality.

If the argument is that Gays are no different from heterosexuals, save for their sexual orientation, then parades do nothing to persuade the rest of the population to understand Gay people better. To be accepted as an equal part of society requires compliance with the social norms of that society in matters of public conduct.

Being equal means exactly that. Equal rights are not superior rights.

I would hate us to arrive at a situation where there could be suggestions of “affirmative action” for Gays, This is not as far-fetched as it may seem. History has shown that other groups who screamed “discrimination”, did go down that road. That was bad for society then, and would be a bad thing were it to happen again.

Not yet!

The contentious subject of Gay marriage is an example of this phenomenon. In all the agitation for the rights of Gays to marry, it seems to have been overlooked that even heterosexuals cannot get married in Israel if they don’t satisfy the criteria imposed by the Orthodox Rabbinate.

Thousands of people still have to get married in Cyprus, or elsewhere, because, either they are not “Jewish enough”, to be permitted to marry in Israel, or they have some other impediment dreamed up by the religious authority.

Civil marriage for all citizens should be the sole aim, and Gays will then share the equal opportunity available. But I’m not going to hold my breath whilst waiting!

Of course, there are a variety of other aspects to the situation of Gays in Israel, many of which have been well publicised. The status of Tel-Aviv as one of the leading destinations for Gay tourism in the world being just one example. The expansion of Gay pride events to other cities, including Haifa, Petach Tikva, Hadera, Be’er Sheva, Eilat and, yes, even Jerusalem, is proof that the movement for equality is gaining momentum.

Oh, and I omitted to mention that, included in the parade, were a small contingent of religious Gays!

Maybe the day will come when we’ll see a parade in Bnei Brak or Ramat Beit Shemesh!

OK – just joking!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is

Photo credit: gay marriage:http://patnurseblog.blogspot.co.il/2012/05/gay-marriage.html

Only Circumcised Penises On Porno sites in Israel!


A logical outcome of the Knesset’s attempt to censor the Internet.

Closest illustration I could use and still get published! If you’re desperate to see the real thing, there’s a link at the bottom of the page!

According to a recent report in “The Times of Israel”, filed by Stuart Winer, a female member of the Israel Beitenu faction – a Ms Lia Shemtov- wants the Knesset to pass a law that would block access to all pornographic and violent websites to Israeli’s. (1)

Of course , she can count on full support from all the religious parties, and from some others, who believe that they know, better than we do, what’s good for us.

Frankly, I am outraged than anyone would dare to try to determine what I, as an adult, can or cannot watch. Naturally, the fig leaf for the proposed legislation is “the protection of  the young and innocent”.  Apart from the fact that the young are no longer as innocent as their parents would wish to believe, the question arises as to whether adults are obliged to stop developing at age 12.

English: This is the american Disney Channel l...

This is a sexual as it gets – if the Knesset has its way!…….. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I assume that the lawmakers, that support this proposal, would prefer that the default setting for internet entertainment be the Disney Channel, or its equivalent.

The fact is that parental censorship is already available.  Programmes exist which can filter out, so called, “adult content”and parents can choose to activate them.

That’s the whole point.

It’s the parents that make the decision, not some government created quango comprising of people with a different world view from mine – or, indeed,  that of the parents

What the new law is supposed to do is to reverse the default setting of your Internet access. In other words, ALL sites – deemed by this group of censors to be “adult” would be available on special request only. The question of the extra costs involved in such an arrangement does not concern our MK’s.

English: Official portrait of Justice Potter S...

Justice Potter Stewart. _ “I know it when I see It!”………  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then there is the age old question: “what is pornography?” Is it still the standard defined by Justice Potter Stewart in 1964 in America: “I can’t define pornography, but I know it when I see it”? (2)

I think the world has moved on over the past 50 years.

There are countless scenes of sex and violence in “mainstream movies” which would have been unthinkable just a generation ago. Famous film stars engage in the most extreme simulated erotica, which many argue is even more arousing than standard “pumping in and out” porn. And if we’re talking about children’s awareness of these scenes, they don’t have to go to the cinema; they just need to scan the TV movie channels!

So, will the censorship also be extended to TV ? Illogical if it isn’t!

When I made my views known on some web forums, I was accused of “encouraging paedophillia”.

There is absolutely no concrete evidence that viewing acts on TV or the Internet has a direct connection to the implementation of similar acts against third parties.(3)

Indeed, there are some that claim that the tiny fraction of viewers – or should that be “voyeurs” – who are psychologically unbalanced in relation to their sexual proclivities, can actually live out their fantasies through these media, and thus have no absolute need to manifest those desires physically. I think that is especially true for paedophiles.

A May 8 ruling by the New York Court of Appeals held that viewing child pornography on the Internet without taking further action such as printing or saving files does not necessarily constitute possession (of pornographic paedophillic imagery) (4)

So, what does all this have to do with Israel?  Well, for a country that prides itself on its openness and liberalism, to talk about censorship restrictions on anything,  is to place it squarely in the same category as its neighbours in the region, whose relative lack of freedoms it never ceases to criticise.

This proposed censorship is but the thin end of a very dangerous wedge. How Israel Beitenu managed to get into bed with Shas (so to speak) is incomprehensible. What will be next? After the banning of porn and violence, will the Haredi dress code for women be mandatory for all productions – no visible skin, apart from the face – under a wig, or headscarf, of course.

Censorship is a slippery slope. Everyone knows where it starts. No one knows where it ends!

And if there will be porno sites available on request – will the male performers need to be circumcised?

Why not?

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

(Full disclosure)

I, myself was accused (together with 1199 other Israelis) of engaging in a sexual orgy of sin and debauchery -reminiscent of the worst excesses of Sodom and Gomorrah – when I participated, last September,  in the famous (or is that infamous) event known as “Naked Dead Sea”.

This, you may recall, was the brainchild of the well known American artist, Spencer Tunick, in which 1200 Israelis volunteered to pose completely naked for a serious of photographs, in order to promote the Dead Sea in its bid to be classified as one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

I can honestly state that it was a truly amazing experience, but if anyone believes that 1200 naked, perspiring Israelis in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, with an an equally wide variety of dangling bits, had any connection to sex, then they are in need of serious help! (5)

References

(1)http://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset-to-consider-pornography-censorship-law

(2) http://library.findlaw.com/2003/May/15/132747.html

(3) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_between_child_pornography_and_child_sexual_abuse

(4) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47437950/ns/technology_and_science-security/t/bill-criminalizing-viewing-child-porn-online-okd-ny-senate/#.T75tWtWP-s8possession.

(5)http://andyboy1.com/2011/09/20/naked-in-the-holy-land-part-three/

Banana Image:   parenthub.com.au

Rabbi Tells Doctors “Don’t Treat Non-Jews on the Sabbath!”


Rabbi Ovadia Yosef

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef  – if you’re sick on Shabbat – you need to be Jewish!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has excelled himself this time

Just when you thought that it would be impossible for him to come up with sayings more idiotic than those he previously uttered, he surprises you with something new.

According to a report in YNET  the “learned”rabbi came up with this gem:

“the spiritual leader of Shas said that while doctors are expected to do everything in their power – even if it requires violating the Sabbath – in order to save Jews whose lives are in danger, the same does not apply for gentiles.”

Of course, this places religious doctors in a real dilemma. A conflict between their Hippocratic oath and Halacha (Jewish religious law). And then, there is their contract with the state:

” The doctors’ license says they must treat all patients without distinction of faith or race, and if they don’t, the State could revoke their license and also punish them” 

Apart from any other considerations, the mere fact that anyone, especially a rabbi, can think and utter such thoughts, is a Public Relations disaster of the highest magnitude for the State of Israel . That this is his opinion, and his alone, gets lost in the media coverage. Israel’s enemies, of which there are many, seize on anything that can cast the state in a bad light.

It’s difficult to imagine anything much worse than this.

The horror of the vast majority of Israeli society to such thoughts is no different from that in the rest of the civilised world. But it would be an uphill struggle to try to get this fact across.

Man’s inhumanity to man is well documented in history, on both small and large scales. It does not need the added stimulus of religious interpretation and edict to make a bad situation even worse. Religion has been responsible for enough tragedy; and now it seems that the spark of religious intolerance continues to glow brightly in the mind of this nonagenarian.

There is, however, a postscript to this story.

Yosef, in an effort to ameliorate the severity of such a ruling, did propose a solution: “ The rabbi offered a halachic solution that follows a rule by which if a single person is doing the act, he is violating the Sabbath, while if two people are doing it together, they are exempt.”

Image of a surgeon operating on a patient. فار...

Two hands are better than one – but at the SAME time?…. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The doctor who needs to operate will call on another doctor, or nurse, to hold the scalpel together and make the incision,” said Rabbi Yosef, saying that “it is necessary in order for religious physicians to refrain from being put on trial for distinguishing between a Jew and a gentile on Sabbath.”

Maybe he should just stick to religion.

His knowledge of medical procedures leaves a lot to be desired.

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

Reference

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4229767,00.html

Related articles

http://andyboy1.com/2011/11/22/rabbi-ovadia-yosef-from-his-mouth-to-gods-ears/

http://andyboy1.com/2012/01/20/snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory/

 


The Amir Brothers – Heroes or Villains?


The answer to that question is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Isolation - D Block

Isolation cell – for over sixteen years! (Photo credit: Smath.)

With the release from prison of Haggai Amir, after sixteen and a half years of solitary confinement, the controversy over his actions, and those of his brother, Yigal, who was convicted of firing the shots that fatally wounded Yitzhak Rabin, has erupted again.

Most of the demonstrators protesting his release were children when the shooting occurred and have no direct knowledge of the circumstances. And, as far as the older protesters are concerned, everyone has an agenda.

It is certainly not politically correct to even try to understand what caused the brothers to act as they did, far less to attempt to justify their actions.

But, in order to start on the path of understanding, we need to examine the very structure of a democracy, and how it is supposed to function. In fact, there are multiple forms of democracy – and some are more democratic than others.

For example, The UK with its ” first past the post” electoral system, and only two major political parties, can lead to a situation is which the Prime Minister can find himself (or, indeed, herself) with such an overwhelming parliamentary majority that the government can pass any legislation it chooses without limitation.

Not so different from a dictatorship, in practical terms.

In America the situation is similar, but not identical. There are still only two major parties, but the differences between them are less than those in the UK. A combination of mid-term elections and a complicated machinery of checks and balances, tends to inhibit even the strongest President.

So one would imagine that Israel, with its proportional representation system, would guarantee that a dictatorial type Prime Minister simply could not exist. The permanent requirement for a coalition government would inhibit the total freedom of action of any Prime Minister.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. pre...

A truly fateful handshake….. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so it was for Yitzhak Rabin when he was trying to persuade the Knesset to approve the agreement, known as the “Oslo Accords”.  The tortuous manner in which the agreement was secretly negotiated needs an article in itself. Suffice to say that Rabin, although initially opposed to the agreement, was eventually persuaded to accept it. The Americans, who were disturbed that they had not been party to the negotiations, eventually stopped sulking and put their support behind the accords.

Rabin’s problem was that he had to “sell” the whole concept not only to the Knesset, but also to the Israeli public and, of course, the media.  The media, with its inherent left wing slant was, more or less, a pushover. The public was very divided, and the media had to work overtime to present the situation as if the the majority were in favour.

Those Israeli citizens already living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza were, obviously, very vociferous in their objections. Their protests really got to Rabin, who was known to have a short temper when his authority was questioned. His widely reported remark that these protesters could ” spin like propellers” as far as he was concerned, and would not cause him to deviate from the course he was on, did nothing to improve his image with the general public.

And when it came to the fateful vote in the Knesset, which was actually a motion of no confidence in the government, he only succeeded in obtaining 61 votes out of a possible 120 – a majority of 1! There were 50 votes in favour of the motion, and 9 abstentions.

The manipulative manner in which he was able to secure 2 crucial votes from a tiny party that had splintered away from the Tsomet faction, gave rise to perceptions and accusations of bribery, which he ignored.   Many people were also incensed that the accords required Israel to relinquish almost all of the territory it had acquired in the 1967 war, with the Jerusalem question still unresolved, and that the 61 votes had included 5 votes from the Arab parties.

It may be understood that, as far as the general population was concerned, the combination of bought votes and Arab votes needed to achieve the single vote majority, removed any vestiges of legitimacy from the final decision.

Which brings me back to my previous point of defining a democracy. When the electorate feel betrayed, the next time that they can participate in an election can seem to them to be too far into the future. The possibility that the sense of frustration can become too strong to contain then arises.

It is true that we have all become cynical of politicians and their promises. Most broken pledges are simply greeted with a sense of resignation and a mental note of who to vote for next time.

Ariel Sharon 2001-03-19

Ariel Sharon – got away with Gaza…. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But some situations are simply too egregious to accept meekly. Rabin’s way of dealing with the Oslo Accords was one such act. Ariel Sharon got away with the evacuation of Gaza by the skin of his teeth. Had other circumstance not intervened, it is highly possible that any attempt by him to remove Jews from Judea and Samaria would have resulted in him meeting a similar fate.

Before anyone accuses me of trying to defend the indefensible, I must point out that throwing up the word ” democracy” is really usurping the concept to cover for, essentially, undemocratic acts; Rabin’s machinations to secure votes were widely criticised at the time.

I know the arguments about the imperfections of democracy, and that it’s still better than any other political system. But, when it comes to situations that could be interpreted as existential threats to the state, maybe the cloak of democracy is simply not a sufficient protection.

And, it is in such circumstances, that some people feel driven to take action.

Political assassination is a risk that all leaders take. Their ability to steer a course that does not lead to a sense of impotent rage by some part of the electorate is a measure of their success.

Failure in this essential element of leadership can have dire consequences.

It did for Yitzhak Rabin.

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

Oh My God – Blasphemy is Still a Capital Offence in the 21st Century!


Unbelievably, in this second decade of the 21st century, there are still countries that have a death penalty for blasphemy.

afghanistan

Dying to defend the faith in Afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

And in one of those countries, at least, American and British soldiers are fighting, and dying, to defend the option of a government to enforce that law.

I am referring to Afghanistan – specifically the clause in its Penal code, which states as follows:

Sharia permits the authorities to treat blasphemy as a capital crime. The authorities can punish blasphemy with death if the blasphemy is committed by a male of sound mind over age 18 or by a female of sound mind over age 16. Anyone accused of blasphemy has three days to recant. If an accused does not recant, death by hanging may follow.“(1)

Afghanistan is not unique: Saudi Arabia has a similar law.

But, most countries satisfy themselves with less drastic forms of punishment such as imprisonment and/or fines. Surprisingly, even some European countries still have anti-blasphemy laws, but these are rarely enforced.

Only as recently as March 2008, was the blasphemy law repealed in the UK; the last successful prosecution for blasphemy was in 1977 – only 35 years ago! Interestingly, the law only applied to Christianity.(2) The last execution for blasphemy actually took place in Scotland in 1697 with the hanging of the unfortunately named Mr Thomas Aikenhead. He must have had a real aching head after that experience. (sorry!)

In America, it’s a whole different ball game, (to use the local vernacular). Under the First and Fourteenth amendments to the constitution – pertaining to free expression – it is impossible to bring a Federal prosecution on the charge of blasphemy, as part of the legally defined separation of  “church” and state.  However, the situation regarding individual states is not so clear. (3)

And, I discovered much to my surprise and consternation, that there are laws protecting religion here in Israel:

In Israel, blasphemy is covered by Articles 170 and 173 of the penal code:

Insult to religion
170. If a person destroys, damages or desecrates a place of worship or any object which is held sacred by a group of persons, with the intention of reviling their religion, or in the knowledge that they are liable to deem that act an insult to their religion, then the one is liable to three years imprisonment.
Injury to religious sentiment
173. If a person does any of the following, then the one is liable to one year imprisonment:
(1) One publishes a publication that is liable to crudely offend the religious faith or sentiment of others;
(2) One voices in a public place and in the hearing of another person any word or sound that is liable to crudely offend the religious faith or sentiment of others.

The law is traced back to the British High Commission “The Abuse and Vilification (religious invective) Order No. 43 of 1929”, enacted in efforts to suppress the 1929 Palestine riots. The order contained the language: “Any person who utters a word or sound in public or within earshot of any other person that may be or is intended to offend his religious sensitivities or faith can expect to be found guilty and eligible for a one-year jail sentence.” (4)

CDC raspberry

Blowing one of these can get you into big trouble in Israel! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Article 170 says that the reviling or insulting of the religion is a separate crime from the specific act of destruction or vandalism, since it refers to intent.

Article 173 presumably includes, for example, “blowing a Raspberry” as a sign of comment or disagreement.

So – does any of this really matter?

Since few countries actually punish people for this “crime”, and even fewer execute convicted blasphemers, why should anyone be concerned?

To me, the concern should be obvious. All of the examples listed above, and, indeed, all laws relating to blasphemy, place religion in a different category from any, and every, other element of the fabric of society.

Discussion, debate and disagreement can be heated and/or offensive about any subject, other than religion and religious belief.

Why?

Expressing oneself passionately about anything else does not lead to imprisonment, or the threat of it. Demonstrations, and other political acts, are covered by different laws related to public order. So, again, why religion?

There can be only one logical reason.

Since religion, and the various form of God, were invented by man, those charged with the responsibility to nurture, protect and maintain it, understood from the beginning that fear was the greatest form of power enforcement.

History has proved them right.

Nothing will concentrate a man’s (or woman’s) mind more than the threat of being burned alive at the stake, or stoned to death.

Persecution of witches

Burning of witches - not good on YouTube!(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But, one must acknowledge that religion has moved with the times and adjusted to the 21st century. Realising that burning and stoning doesn’t play well on YouTube, and even hanging is seen by some as a bit gruesome, more and more regimes and governments have settled for imprisonment.

At least there, the transgressors can rot away out of the public eye!

As for me – I’m going to have a quick flip through some of my previous articles to check that I am not in contravention of the local laws. I hope that implied “Raspberries” don’t count.

And at least I can be thankful that I’m in Israel – not Afghanistan!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

Blasphemy set to music!

References

(1)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_Afghanistan

(2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_the_United_Kingdom

(3)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law_in_the_United_States_of_America

(4)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blasphemy_law