Opinion |

First, It Was the Palestinians. Now, It's LGBTQ People

Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht
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Pride parade, Jerusalem, Thursday.
Pride parade, Jerusalem, Thursday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ravit Hecht
Ravit Hecht

To mark the opening of this week’s Pride events, Dalit Laub Soter and Channel 14 television executed a successful public relations move by publishing an article by the opinion writer, who is better known by the pen name Gali Bat Horin, in a special edition, under the amusing headline “LGBT-istan.” Laub Soter belongs to the “sobered-up left” school – intellectuals and thinkers who, according to their own testimony, used to be leftists, but saw the light and veered right, generally straight into the most paranoid wing of the conservative camp, which inflates the left and its representatives to demonic proportions and attributes superhuman malice to it.

Laub Soter’s argument, if I understood it correctly, isn’t aimed at the LGBT community itself, but at those psychopathic, evil agents who use it as infantile stooges in their desire to implement Marx’s doctrines and undermine the foundations of society until it is destroyed.

Laub Soter is one of the most interesting and eloquent spokespeople for former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diehard supporters. The LGBT community’s acceptance within that electorate has been one of the calmest and most natural occurrences of recent years. So what’s actually going on here?

There are a few groups in Israel that find it particularly hard to accept members of the LGBT community, including the ultra-Orthodox, Arabs and other groups characterized by religious piety and a traditional, insular way of life. Nevertheless, the group that’s most preoccupied with this community, and that openly and consistently works to undermine its rights, is the conservative wing of religious Zionism, as reflected by its political representatives in the Knesset – the party that calls itself Religious Zionism.

The reason for this almost obsessive preoccupation may be the great success of the battle for recognition of LGBT rights. This is perhaps the only liberal struggle that actually has succeeded in Israel, thanks to the fact that members of the LGBT community can be found in every family and town and as children of every mother (sorry, I meant parent 1 and parent 2). But this tireless preoccupation primarily teaches us about religious Zionism’s motivations and the place it seeks to occupy.

The ultra-Orthodox – who are many times less accepting of modernity and openness in general, much less in the sphere of sexuality – have a minority consciousness, and therefore seek primarily to defend their own rights and autonomy (that is, not to be intruded on). In contrast, religious Zionists see themselves as heirs to Mapai, the party that ruled Israel for its first three decades, when it comes to determining Israel’s character and the boundaries of its culture. Consequently, it sees educating, converting and policing as its business. Many of the most prominent religious Zionist opponents of LGBT rights have nothing against the “individual gay” or “individual lesbian.” But their role as carriers of the moral ark of the covenant of Jewish sovereignty leads them to harass others, make life difficult for them and their children and do them plain and simple injustice, often with a complete disconnect to the personal compassion they feel as human beings.

Incidentally, this is exactly how they treat the Palestinians. A divine commandment and carrying the torch of history legitimize what they do to “Mohammed the individual,” whom they don’t have anything against. For the sake of protecting what they consider collective goals, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

The Mapai melting pot, which sought to dissolve identities and melt them into a mold of its choosing, has been replaced by religious Zionism’s program of reversal, which seeks to “change orientations” – the stated goal of conversion therapy. Both of these were megalomaniacal, violent projects in which a particular group of people saw itself as the drafter of our collective code of identity and didn’t hesitate to use force, including against itself and its own conscience, to implant it in the rest of the country.

Just as the settler wing of religious Zionism leads Likud voters to support the moonstruck vision of annexing more to Israel, this same faction now pushes them to backtrack into a reaction against LGBT rights by riding the exaggerated fear and loathing of the “left.” So who exactly are they poking fun at here?

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