Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sex in the Holy City - Part 3

It's back...

I'm sorry, but I just couldn't resist the temptation to post the 3rd installment of Sex in the Holy City series (Part 1 & Part 2).

PR, San Francisco-style
New approach: Israel's general consul in San Francisco has tried a new tack in promoting Israel to the cities large homosexual community: A series of screening of the movie, "Keep Not Silent," a movie about ultra-Orthodox lesbians.

The consulate has invited the films director, Ilil Alexander, for a series of events with the highly-influential, traditionally pro-Palestinian community, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Sunday.

"Alexander's visit represents for us an opportunity to deepen our ties with the homo-lesbian community, and to increase cooperation with it," said assistant consul general Omer Caspi.

I will pose once again the questions I raised in the wake of this post:
* What messages & ideas do we want people (both Jews & non-Jews) to associate Israel with?

* Do the ends justify the means when promoting Israel? Is everything and anything OK so long as it increases tourism to Israel, or raises pro-Israel sentiment?

* How does Israel's identity as the Jewish State fit in with all of this? Are these messages serving to bring shame and dishonor on Judaism, the Jewish People and the Jewish State?

Is it really so important that those who identify themselves as Pro-Palestinian come to love us at the expense of making a mockery of our heritage and identity (not to mention the ultra-Orthodox community)? Will that really earn their respect and admiration? And even if it will, is it truly worth the cost?



18 Comments:

Israel as a Jewish state has always meant Israel as a state with a Jewish demographic majority.

You don't have to like it but that's always been the definition, combined with some party favors to the religious parties.

By Blogger amechad, at Wed Mar 22, 02:37:00 PM GMT+2  

The definition of Israel also includes basic Jewish values such as the study of the Torah, the keeping of the mitzvot-at least the Shabbat and koshrut, and keeping to our unique way of life. This way of life does NOT tolerate homosexuality. As much as I'd like to present myself as tolerant and peaceful I cannot reconcile myself with the idea of gay-pride parades on the streets of telli and J'lem and of Arabs living side by side with Jews in a Jewish (not Donian) Israel.

-Eitan.

By Blogger Greg, at Wed Mar 22, 08:26:00 PM GMT+2  

Eitan / RegReg,

Thank the rock of Israel that you don't get to define Israel, I guess. And rather the secular founders of the state who fought for this country while the Religious sat studying torah. It was they who wrote the declaration of the establishment of the state, which called for a State based on the vision of the prophets, not the vision of Ovadia Yosef.

Eitan - your understanding of Jewishness is just that - yours. And everyone is entitled to their own.

H

By Anonymous H, at Thu Mar 23, 07:35:00 AM GMT+2  

Yes, everyone is entitled to his own description, I'm not going to argue against that. But trust me H, I don't go with Ovadia Yosef's pathetic version either. I, myself, am secular. I just support the religious establishment in Israel and wish I had the strength and willpower to return to tshuva myself.

Eitan.

By Blogger Greg, at Fri Mar 24, 12:13:00 AM GMT+2  

eitan, just start by learning Torah with a regular Chavrusa. Pephaps Teshiva will follow and if it doesnt at least you will have learned some Torah.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Mar 24, 02:23:00 AM GMT+2  

Oops- I'm late to this. I'll open with a question- see much Israeli cinema, Ze'ev? I suspect not...so you probably have scant idea as to how many Israeli films are featured at LGBT festivals around the world each year: I would put the number in the dozens. And the other Israeli films featured probably wouldn't please your prerequisites for shiny blue-and-white statehood either: They represent the film-makers takes on many controversial social themes, including the army, racial discrimination, sexuality, religion, people's disenchantment with their lives and even with -gasp- the Jewish state. In short, the growing film industry deals with reality, not propaganda. Is that unacceptable to you?

Finally, I assume you haven't seen Ilil Alexander's very sensitive film (which, much like "Trembling Before G-d" does not defame the orthodox/Israeli world at all) or else you would not have used it as an example for your point in this post.

Ze'ev, I get 100% that you would very much like the core fabric of Israel to be more religious, but right now it is the way it is: You need to reconcile yourself with that reality asap and not get so angry about it.

By Blogger tafka PP, at Tue Mar 28, 09:49:00 AM GMT+2  

PP

I am in agreement with you. Zeev seems to advocate one Israel, for only those religious zionists he is a part of. I have nothing against their cause per se, other than the cost of upkeeping the settlements (illegal ones) has drained monies from true Jewish causes, like taking care of the elderly, poor, disabled, and sick.

On topic here, is another attempt to define what Israel shoyuld be according to Ze'ev and his ditto-heads. I frankly, as a religious Jew, and a zionist, am pro-gay rights here in Israel and think that the community should be allowed to parade in all the cities of Israel, and the settlements for that matter, if they choose. If Zeev and his gang can be on record to have the freedom of expression, than I am afraid Zeev and others, you must allow groups this right to, even if you disagree with their messages.

By Anonymous Zionist, at Sun Apr 02, 11:50:00 AM GMT+3  

True Jewish causes? Jewish causes are fufilling Mitzvot including setling Israel.

Gay rights? I dont believ e you are religious since the Torah is clear that homosexuality is completely forbidden on pain of death.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Apr 02, 04:12:00 PM GMT+3  

Zionist - this has nothing ot do with religion per se. I imagine that the mahjority of Jews who live in Israel would have a problem with homosexuality being used to promote the Jewish State.

This has nothing to do with whether or not one has the freedom within Israel to express themselves as homosexuals and everything to do with ow we express and promote ourselves to the world - and frankly homosexuality is not something that the Jewish State should be taking pride in...

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Sun Apr 02, 07:59:00 PM GMT+3  

Ze'ev. I'll say it again. GO AND SEE THE FILM. Then come back and see if you are actually able to honestly write comments like "I imagine that the majority of Jews who live in Israel would have a problem with homosexuality being used to promote the Jewish State" or accuse the Hasbara people of "taking pride" in Homosexuality.

- incidentally, this whole thread just demonstrates how woefully out-of-touch you are with "the majority of Jews who live in Israel." I'm not saying this to be mean: I'm recommending that you wise up, especially if you are as intent as you proclaim re spreading your messages of nationhood to *all* the Jews of the world, as opposed to those who already agree with you.

By Blogger tafka PP, at Tue Apr 04, 12:39:00 AM GMT+3  

And Anonymous- Go and see "Trembling Before G-d" and maybe you'll think twice about accusing someone of not being religious because they admit to being pro-gay rights.

Unless, of course, you don't believe in watching films. If that's the case, you shouldn't be reading blogs either, you never know what level of pritzus you might be exposing yourself too.

By Blogger tafka PP, at Tue Apr 04, 12:44:00 AM GMT+3  

PP, I accept your point that teh film in question is not a pornographic one. I also accept that the issue of homosexuality within the Jewish world is a senstive one.

That is not to say that I believe that it is an acceptable lifestyle from a Jewish (Law) standpoint, but I acept that there are many otherwise good people who may be battling this difficult issue (and did not actively seek to live an alternative lifestyle).

However, all that being said, I do not beleive that this is an issue that should be used to promote the Jewish State in the eyes of the world.

What are we saying?

"Hey, you think homosexuality is ok? Well, that's great, b/c we have plenty of homosexuals in Israel!"

Or...

"Hey, you're in favor of gay rights? Well so is the Jewish State of Israel!"

No thanks.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Tue Apr 04, 04:40:00 PM GMT+3  

How about: "Hey, Crunchy Granola, anti-violence, anti-occupation people... There's an award-winning film showing tonight which documents lesbianism in the Ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. You might find it interesting. And then maybe you'll find other Israeli films on different topics interesting too. And then maybe, eventually, you might not be so quick to slam Israel."

Again: If you see the film you will see that it is neither promoting gay rights, nor is it saying that homosexuality is OK. And as such, neither are the hasbara people who choose to screen it.

And with that, I'm all out of comments.

By Blogger tafka PP, at Tue Apr 04, 06:41:00 PM GMT+3  

If I may just add my humble opinion here. Actually what caught my attention to this blog was that I thought it read: Sex AND The Holy City, as a take off of the HBO series, which I thought was rather "catchy".

First of all, there is the maxim, when in Rome.... I think that using the film, "Keep Not Silent," was a perfectly perfect means of connecting with the population at hand, San Franciscans.

As for acceptance of homosexuality in Israel, one can only hope that the country (State, as it were) will go the way of the US in beginning to legislate tolerance and freedom for all.

I am presently in Israel for a wedding. The family is a large one (my husband's) and they fare from Beersheva to the Golan Hgts and many towns, cities, and moshavs in between. I have to wonder if my brother and his partner had come with me to this wedding, how the three hundred or so Israelies who will be there would react to them dancing together (and that would not be the "forced" separation of men and women type dancing). I would like to believe that they would be welcomed just the way they are, but I don't.
Sherril
שרונה

By Blogger Sherril, at Tue Apr 04, 09:30:00 PM GMT+3  

Sherril / Sharona, I am glad that you were attracted by the title - that was the idea - to spoofthe HBO series and draw attention.

I agree that the film was likely appealing to the San Fransisco, West Coast, community, but my issue is not a matter of popularity, it's matter of the messages used to promote israel.

I do not doubt that by promoting Israel as a place that is sensitive to gay rights it might appeal to certain segments of the population - I also do not discredit that the issue of Homosexuality and Judaism is a senstive one (even if I believe that Jewish law is clear on the matter).

However, I do not believe that it is a message that the Jewish State should be using to promote itself.

As for how your borther and his partner would have been accepted, I honestly don't know. In many places in Israel they would likely be accepted without question, and in more traditonal places there might havebeen some issue.

As you said i nthe start of your comment, however, when in Rome, do as the Romans, that I would hope that your borther and his partner would have been respectful of the standards and norms that the community where the wedding was held had set - and wouldn't just be trying to make a statement.

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Wed Apr 05, 12:59:00 PM GMT+3  

Zeev:

I agree with the PP when he suggests you are way out of touch with the majority of Israeli Jews with regards to the view of homosexuality. Firstly, I doubt many Jews care if the State promotes sexy beech scenes or Tel-Aviv as a gay mecca. In fact, many I know in the Tel-Aviv and Haifa areas would take pride in that context. Relatively few were upset with Meretz's add showing a gay man wishing to be married to another man. I think it is great that the Jewish state of Israel allows gays to serve in the military openly, and allows for immigration of same-sex partners.

Annon: I seriously doubt you have a monoply on what is considered religious. I am Orthodox infact and some consider me Charedi. Homosexuality between women is not prohibited and it is debately whether homosexuality between men is other than anal penetration.

By Anonymous Zionist, at Wed Apr 05, 03:52:00 PM GMT+3  

Zionist, would you please describe how you believe the Jewish State should appear? What should its values be? If the majority of those living in the Jewish State decided to create a bi-national state, would that be ok?

What makes Israel a Jewish State for you?

By Blogger Ze'ev, at Wed Apr 05, 08:09:00 PM GMT+3  

Ze'ev- if you're not even prepared to enter into reasoned debate with people whose views differ from you, maybe you should scrap your whole "Alternative Viewpoint" section?

Chag Sameach, btw.

By Anonymous PP, at Tue Apr 11, 09:59:00 PM GMT+3  

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