Opinion |

Until Everyone in Israel Feels the Injustice

Until all men and women in Israel - like pop stars in the LGBT adoption issue - feel the price of the occupation on their own flesh, nothing will change

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The state has given an unsuccessful reply to the High Court of Justice on the adoption of children by members of the LGBT community, and has been thoroughly mauled in return. Gay singer Harel Skaat has called on young people not to heed their draft call and older adults not to pay taxes. Gay musician Ivry Lider has declared: “I cannot remain silent in the face of the State of Israel’s response.”

And gay television personality Assi Azar has said: “The state uses us and sends us to speak abroad, and is filming us for videos that show how much fun it is to be gay in Israel . But when it comes to practicality, to approve rights that would make this a more egalitarian, democratic, accepting, beautiful nation, that’s where they cave.”

Harel Skaat performing his song "Milim" during a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision semifinals. Credit: Reuters

Even the hip-hop idol Static has released a heartwarming statement: “Gays, lesbians, transgender people and whatever – we are all Israelis. We deserve identical rights. What’s the democracy thing about if it isn’t like that?”

The LGBT protest against the offensive policy has filled the public space. Your heart swells with pride. The Messiah is on his way. Democracy in all its glory. A minority is fighting like a lion for its rights and winning an umbrella of sympathy from the public.

I don’t want to play down the insensitivity the state is showing LGBT families. I suffer from it personally when I have to traipse from one courthouse to another to obtain parental rights for my female partner who is serving as a mother, just as I am, to our beloved daughter, but who legally has no status because I’m the one who gave birth. This is infuriating, so we have to change the reality regarding adoption.

I’m just wondering where this impressive civic fervor is in other cases; where the Skaats have disappeared to, for example, when comedienne and actress Orna Banai was made to walk the plank off Mano Maritime’s publicity ship because she voiced opposition to the 2014 Gaza war. If Banai’s living had been affected by her sexual leanings, gay people would have flocked to protest, which would have made Mano Maritime offer a free cruise to every LGBT family to revive its business. But Banai voiced leftist opinions during the war. No one is prepared to defend a perversion like that.

And where has that civic fervor been during the past 50 years of systematic, very harsh damage to people’s basic freedoms? When a person can’t move around without encountering a roadblock, can’t fly abroad without a permit and above all can’t vote for the parliament in which he determines how his life will look – is this an “egalitarian, democratic and beautiful” situation?

Without detracting from the pain and distress Skaat is feeling, his statement represents a kind of absurdity. He’s calling on young people not to join the army because the state is forbidding gay people to adopt children, not because the state will turn them into occupation police because the interests of a certain political camp are given priority.

In the clarification video that Skaat posted, he says he has explained why he deserves to have the state treat him with respect and grant him equal rights as a gay man. Among his reasons, he notes that he served in the army and that his partner is a major in the reserves who serves in every operation when he’s called up.

In a democratic state the granting of rights, among them the right to parenthood, shouldn’t be dependent in any way on activity like military service. This basic insight is unknown in Israel, that villa in a jungle or Europe’s representative on earth in the Middle East, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had it during his visit to Budapest.

But beyond all that, the tempest in the LGBT affair proves – and this isn’t an especially new discovery for anyone – that a person goes to war when things touch him personally, when his own life is affected by the arbitrariness of the masses or the regime. Israelis loathe the human rights groups that are trying to put pressure on the state from abroad, but again and again the reality proves the need for them and their activities.

Until all men and women in Israel, like Harel Skaat in the LGBT adoption issue, feel the price of the occupation on their own flesh, nothing will change.