The world liberals and politically correct leftists have been outraged, and rightly so, by the anti-gay Russian laws and social maltreatment in that country, but seem to be silent and without outrage regarding the existence of such laws and attitudes in the Palestinians territories. Even though Israel is the only oasis for gays and lesbians and other religious minorities in the intolerant Middle East, it is the one being portrayed as a "racist apartheid" state for building Jewish settlements, including schools, kindergartens and synagogues, in the hills of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank, which is the cradle of Jewish history.
These human rights activists and the liberal media must face their own hypocrisy and double moral standards and must asked themselves where are the protests and boycotts against the Palestinians? How do they reconcile their obsession with establishing a Palestinian state with the knowledge and certainty that such a state would consider homosexuality a crime? Why are these highly educated people be so gullible as to believe the lies and propaganda of the BDS movement and other Palestinian supporters that Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is intolerant to the Palestinians and Arabs when it is so tolerant to sexual minorities? Why will they scapegoat the Jewish state when its culture of tolerance to LGBT individuals equals and even surpasses that of North America and Western Europe? Where is the coverage, scrutiny, and condemnation of the Arabs and Palestinians and where is the praise for Israel?
While sexual minorities are as unwelcome in Muslim majority countries of the Middle East as are religious minorities, Israel has become their safe haven in the region.
According to a 2012 report of state sponsored homophobia by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), 78 countries criminalize consensual acts between adults of the same sex. The ILGA notes that such acts are punishable by death in five countries including Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iran. The latter has executed over 4,000 people for homosexuality since 1979. The study found that Sub-Saharan African and Muslim majority countries are the least accepting of gays.
Moreover, in the Palestinian-controlled Gaza, which has been free of any Jewish settlements and Israeli military occupation since 2005, a criminal code ordinance exists under which gays and lesbians can be convicted for their "unnatural offenses" with a felony punishable by imprisonment for a term of 10 years. The Hamas-run regime even executed a gay man.
Obsession with Palestinian victimhood
In the West Bank, under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction, homosexuality is strictly taboo, sometimes violently so and many are sent to "reeducation camps" run by Islamist clerics where they are beaten and tortured for months. Gay Palestinians regularly seek to escape to Israel and ask for asylum fearing for their lives because of their sexual orientation.
One gay Palestinian told the Israeli liberal newspaper Haaretz, "In other times, when they brought me to the roadblock, the entire village chased me and beat me and nearly killed me. I prefer to sit in an Israeli prison than to go back." The San Francisco Chronicle reported in as early as 2007 that "West Bank gays are more at home in Israel." A report documented in a piece for Vice Magazine suggests that there are at least 2,000 homosexuals men originating from the Palestinian territories living in pluralist Tel Aviv.
But for anti-Israel bigots these inconvenient truths don’t matter because they claim that Israel is highlighting its progressive treatment of LGBT people to "pink wash" its conflict with the Palestinians.
However, facts and laws do not lie. Israel is the best place in the Middle East for LGBT individuals, as well as for any religious minority. Tel Aviv was voted the Best Gay Travel Destination and it boasts Asia’s largest gay pride parade, and that parade is the only gay pride parade in the world that is part of the official municipal schedule, produced by the city and government-funded. Workplace discrimination against gay people is outlawed and the Israeli parliament has openly gay members. In schools, teenagers learn about the difficulties of being gay and the importance of treating all sexualities equally.
The country’s army, the Israel Defense Forces, has many openly gay high ranking officers who like all other gay soldiers are treated equally by order of the government. The Israeli army never had the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that gay couples are eligible for spousal and widower benefits. Mainstream television dramas in Israel regularly feature gay storylines.
Despite this reality, the left-leaning media in US and Europe, led by the New York Times, put their anti-Israeli bias ahead of LGBT rights and refuse to expose the ugly truth about the Palestinians while spreading damaging lies and myths about Israelis.
The European Union and human rights and academic groups would rather use their activism and money to demonize Israel than to fight regimes in the Arab and Muslim world that harass, oppress, brutalize, and even execute members of the LGBT community. Instead, it seems that the world prefers to continue their obsession with the Palestinian’s perpetual victimhood and with their hatred of the Jewish state.
Shoula Romano Horing is an attorney. Her website: www.shoularomanohoring.com