Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Two Events in Yerushalayim

Or, why the Dati Leumi and the heterosexual Chilonim should have marched in the Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.

I made this point to a lesser extent, and in a different manner, last year. I think the issue of protest or participate comes down to a simple question:

Do you think that as a matter of policy, the sanctity of Jerusalem demands that certain conduct, which is otherwise entirely acceptable in secular society, should not be allowed?

People were objecting to the gay pride parade because homosexuality is assur according to halacha (and according to Christian and Muslim law) and therefore, one should not march in holy Yerushalayim saying "we are homosexuals!"

Belief in a man as deity is avodah zarah in both Judaism and Islam, yet there is an annual march from Jerusalem to Bethlehem.

This is a problem because even religious people have different definitions of religiosity, and whose standards are you going to enforce?

This came to the fore in a celebration the day before the gay pride parade, at the inauguration of the Bridge of Strings. See A Mother In Israel for details, and links. The before and after pictures are really something to see. The the specific choice of the black caps, as opposed to white or colored, was done in protest of this compulsion.

In the before pictures, the girls are dressed as dancers, in stretchy white pants and shirts. In many cases, the shirtsleeves even extended past the elbows. The girl posing on the left is not attempting to be non-tznius, but rather stretching showing flexibility in a dancer's pose. See, for example, this picture which shows other dancers in stretchy clothing in similar poses. For secular Israeli girls, they are extremely tzanua.

But the chareidim threatened to protest unless they dressed more in accordance with chareidi standards. And those standards include making 13-16 year old penuyas cover their hair.

Here is an interesting quote:
“Yes, I was involved in the change and I’m not ashamed of it,” Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollak told the paper. “Their costumes offended the general public. I believe that religious people also have the right to attend performances like these, and if this had bothered the Arabs or any other religion, I would have done the same. The change was necessary, and people enjoyed the result very much.”
I do not think this is true to its full extent -- that if religious Muslims said they would protest unless all females were dressed in burqas, he would have similarly caved and made them wear it.

Chareidim see this as similar cause for protest, just as they saw the gay pride parade. And to cite the Daas Torah blog:
I guess you didn't notice the picture that accompanied the article. Furthermore - as with the Parade - there are activities that are not acceptable. To the degree you can protest you have a halachic obligation to protest.
and also
Furthermore for those who live according to halacha - it is being quite lenient to have a public dance performance of young women dancing - even if they are modestly clothed. I am not sure why it should be permitted.
(I responded with a snarky comment about how the Mishna in Taanis states that there were no better days in Israel than when Yom Kippur and Tu BeAv when the chareidim gathered around to protest the eligible Jewish women who would go out and dance in white, in large part so that the eligible Jewish bachurim would see them.)

The matter is not whether "it" "should be permitted according to halacha, but whether in principe it should be permitted in a country which is a free democratic society, rather than a theocracy.

What might distinguish this from the gay pride parade in the minds of religious non-chareidim (and some secular) is that they agree that homosexuality is something they do not want to see promoted, while they may disagree with this particular case of dancers and imposing this specific dress on people.

However, it is a matter of principle that applies across the board. And one should realize what precedent one sets when one tells gay that they cannot march because it offends certain people's religious sensibilities.

After all, many chareidim think that "mehadrin" buses are a religious requirement, even though Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach was willing to sit next to a lady on a bus. And see how some are hoping to turn regular buses into de-facto mehadrin buses, and hoping that the new light-rail system will be similarly mehadrin.

It is not that I am in favor of zenus, which mixed seating buses are not. Rather, I am against imposing chumras of one group on an unwilling majority. And I think this is necessary to preserve religious freedom, as well.

Related to this: In England, Muslims are seething because of a postcard showing a puppy sitting on a policeman's cap. And it looks like those in authority are apologizing. Though there, maybe it is just an issue that certain stores choose not to put them up.

Next year, when the gay pride parade in Jerusalem rolls around, perhaps we should have this in mind.


Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

I like your point about the avoda zara parades in Jerusalem that are not protested simply because the haredim wouldn't get away with that. Since all the religious factions concur in despising homosexuals, they have a common enemy to fight against.

Anonymous said...

I think that this might be deeply rooted in fear.

If I recall correctly, there is a Midrash that states that the flood was due to the legal cohabitation of men and men. Hence, acknowledgment of homosexuals=destruction of the world.

joshwaxman said...

There is indeed such a midrash, which was that it was because they wrote ketubot for men marrying men.

I'm sure there are a lot of feeds into this.

Kol Tuv,


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