No one should be surprised by the contempt from Bezalel “Parade of Beasts” Smotrich, the far-right leader who said the current COVID wave stemmed from the Tel Aviv Pride parade in late June. What’s worrying is that the Health Ministry had to make clear that this was nonsense. After all, Smotrich led the annual Flag March just four days earlier; hundreds of sweaty guys dancing in Jerusalem.
Smotrich’s history on the matter is well known; at least this time he didn’t bring 700 liters of gasoline with him. One of the parties Smotrich hid in his trunk before the last election was Noam, a self-declared homophobic party. Noam is the product of the great ignoramus Zvi Yisrael Thau; every improvement in human rights gives him a phobia attack.
Rabbis linked to Thau such as Yigal Levinstein and others from the Eli premilitary academy have attacked women and LGBTQ people time after time, sometimes regarding their military service, sometimes not. Still, it’s important to mention that this darkness isn’t limited to the nationalist ultra-Orthodox, the hardalim. Shlomo Benizri, the convicted criminal from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, claimed that homosexuality caused earthquakes.
All we can do is state the obvious once again: Homosexuality is something natural, and it’s found in almost every known species. Homophobia is what isn’t natural. Here the meaning of phobia is the original Greek meaning: fear that leads to hatred.
One of the worst problems of Israeli society is the assumption that there is wisdom in Judaism, but it’s really just a manifesto of Orthodox Jewish men who weren’t especially wise; to paraphrase: Don’t talk with women too much, a woman is a flask full of feces, her mouth is full of blood.
I’m sorry about these words, but I wasn’t the one who wrote them – it was people considered the wise men of the religion. And homophobia is closely linked to the hatred of women: Its essence is men's fears, men who lack confidence and are afraid of being thought of as feminine. For them, women are the total Other.
The Orthodox rabbinic viewpoint divides the world into two parts; on one side stands the crown of creation, the heterosexual Orthodox man, and on the other side everyone else. And of course, non-Jews are inferior from the very fact of their birth, and women are easily impressionable, except for when they’re carrying out their historical role – enticing men. And gay people; well, here we need to stop for a moment.
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Jewish history is almost completely silent on the matter. Homophobia has become a central issue along with two other processes: the liberation of the LGBTQ community, which has been occurring at a record pace, and the hardalim’s burning hatred, and often that of those who fund them. In short, what Smotrich is shooting up isn’t Judaism but cheap evangelicalism.
The problem is that Israel lacks antibodies against Smotrich: The issue of human rights is still foreign to these people, and they revere what the rabbis say, as if they represented some form of truth. The great process of secularization, the Enlightenment, passed over Judaism in many ways. We were locked up in ghettos for too long.
The time has come for us to understand – no, not just understand, but fully internalize – that a person is a person, and it doesn’t matter what ignorant yeshiva graduates say. We’ll internalize that women are the majority and LGBTQ people are our brothers and sisters, often literally our brothers and sisters.
And we’ll realize that the full cart – full in its own eyes – is often full of dangerous nonsense. The time has come for us to leave it on the side of the road.