Tuesday, April 19, 2016
The History of LGBT in Zion
In 1858, the Ottoman Empire, which ruled the area of modern-day Israel and Palestine as part of Ottoman Syria, abolished its existing sodomy laws.
Beginning in 1882, Ashkenazi Jewish migrants from the Russian Empire flee to Israel in a series of waves to escape rising anti-Semitism, encouraged by Theodor Herzl's Zionism. It is not known if the growth in nuance for homosexuality began with any of the early Russian settlers, as the territory from which they had migrated had largely been populated with homophobic cultural traits; however, as Jewish Russians were only recently beginning to integrate into mainstream Russian society away from the Pale of Settlement, views on homosexuality likely sharply differed between Jewish intellectuals and religious clerics when migrating to, and establishing the agricultural settlements in the area.
In 1918, the Ottoman Empire is dissolved, and the territory is occupied by the United Kingdom. In 1923 the United Kingdom is given the territory as part of the British Mandate for Palestine. By default, existing laws against "buggery" are installed by the colonial administration. The law persisted as part of the newly formed Israeli government in 1948.
In 1963, the attorney General declared that sodomy laws installed under the British mandate would not be enforced. In 1988, sexual relations between persons of the same sex was officially made legal.
In 1992 legislation was introduced to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, with some exemptions for religious organizations.
In 1993, the Israeli Parliament revised the military rules so that gay, lesbian and bisexual Israelis can serve openly and on an equal footing with their heterosexual counterparts; homosexuals have been allowed to serve openly in the military, including special units.
The first Pride parade in Tel Aviv took place in 1993.
MK Yael Dayan makes an impassioned speech before the Knesset for gay and lesbian rights in Israel, quoting Torah passages regarding David's relationship with Jonathan.
In 1994, unregistered cohabitation was legalized for the first time.
Family and relationship rights
An Israeli family court on March 17, 2002 turned down an application from a lesbian couple to have their partnership union declared legal. The couple was united in a civil ceremony in Germany. The women wanted the court to recognize their partnership as a civil marriage, under Israeli law. The court said that since the women are not recognized as a family under Israeli law, the court is not authorized to rule on their case. A government lawyer who was asked by the court to give a legal opinion on the case on behalf of the Israeli government said that the state objected to granting the request.
On December 14, 2004, the Nazareth District Court ruled that same-sex couples have the same rights as married couples in inheritance rights. This ruling overturned a Family Court ruling that an elderly man from Kiryat Shmona was not entitled to spousal rights. The man had sought the estate of his late partner, with whom he lived for several decades. The Nazareth judges ruled that the term "man and woman" as spelled out in Israel's inheritance law also includes same sex couples. Judges Nissim Maman and Gabriela Levy, who issued the majority opinion, based their decision on a loose interpretation of the term "partner" as defined in other court rulings, such as those dealing with issues related to employee benefits, and thus applied the interpretation to the inheritance law. The acting president of the Nazareth District Court, Menachem Ben-David, issued the minority opinion, arguing that the legal text should not be interpreted "contrary to the lingual significance." A government spokesperson said the ruling will be appealed.
In December 2004, the Tel Aviv District Court ruled that the government cannot deport the Colombian partner of a gay Israeli man. The 32-year-old Colombian entered Israel on a visitors visa which has long expired and the Interior Ministry had ordered him deported. His partner is an Israeli citizen and a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces. The couple filed an emergency petition with the Tel Aviv District Court. The men were represented by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Judge Uzi Vogelman ruled that the government had acted illegally in attempting to deport the man. In 1999 Supreme Court ruling established that the ministry could not deport foreign nationals married to Israeli citizens. Vogelman's decision extends that to apply to common-law marriages, including same-sex couples.
In March 2008, Israel's Interior Ministry granted a gay Palestinian from Jenin a rare residency permit to live with his partner of 8 years in Tel Aviv after he said his sexuality put his life in danger in the West Bank.
In 2001, Pride is first held in Eilat (Eilat Pride).
Family and relationship rights
On January 10, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian couple is able to legally adopt each other's children. During the past 15 years that Tal and Avital Jarus-Hakak have lived together, they have had a total of three children. In November 2005, a groundbreaking court decision in Israel ruled that a lesbian spouse could officially adopt a child born to her current partner by artificial insemination from an anonymous sperm donor; this ruling came despite protests by the minority Orthodox Jewish parliamentary parties.
Following the supreme court ruling, a lesbian couple was allowed to adopt each other's biological children on February 12, 2006. Before that, gay partners of parents were granted guardianship over their partner's children.
On March 10, 2009, the Tel Aviv family court ruled that former Knesset member Uzi Even and his partner, Amit Kama, can legally adopt their 30-year-old foster son, Yossi, making them the first same-sex male couple in Israel whose right of adoption has been legally acknowledged.
On January 29, 2007, following a Supreme Court ruling ordering them to do so, Jerusalem registered its first gay couple, Avi and Binyamin Rose.
Events and incidents
On 30 June 2005, the fourth annual Pride march of Jerusalem took place. It had originally been prohibited by a municipal ban which was cancelled by the court. Many of the religious leaders of Jerusalem's Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities had arrived to a rare consensus asking the municipal government to cancel the permit of the paraders. During the parade, a Haredi Jewish man, Yishai Schlissel, attacked three people with a kitchen knife and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the crime.
Another parade, this time billed as an international event, was scheduled to take place in the summer of 2005, but was postponed to 2006 due to the stress on police forces during in the summer of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan. In 2006, it was again postponed due to the Israel-Hezbollah war. It was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on 10 November 2006, and caused a wave of protests by Haredi Jews around central Israel;- the ugliest incident took place during the 2006 Jerusalem gay pride parade.
The Israel National Police had filed a petition to cancel the parade due to foreseen strong opposition. Later, an agreement was reached to convert the parade into an assembly inside the Hebrew University stadium in Jerusalem. 21 June 2007, the Jerusalem Open House organization succeeded in staging a parade in central Jerusalem after police allocated thousands of personnel to secure the general area. The rally planned afterwards was cancelled due to an unrelated national fire brigade strike which prevented proper permits from being issued.
In 2008 the City of Tel Aviv opened the Municipal LGBT Community Center, the first of its kind in the country.
In August 2009, an armed attacker shot dead two people and injured 15 more in an attack on a lesbian and gay centre in Tel Aviv. The incident has been deplored by many organizations and government officials, such as the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and President Shimon Peres.
In July 2015, Yishai Schlissel, an Orthodox Jew released from prison after spending 10 years in jail for stabbing participants in a 2005 LGBT pride event in Jerusalem, attacked six marchers with a knife. One of the victims, a teenage girl named Shira Banki, died of her wounds.A central square in Jerusalem is to be renamed "Tolerance Square" in memory of Banki.
David and Jonathan. Homosexual encounters ? Gay couple? Were both Bisexuals?
Degrees I have plenty , smichit not at all . The following is reprinted with permission from the author.They are entirely the views of the author and not my own.
Reading The Prohibition Against Homosexuality In Context By Rabbi Neal J. Loevinger
The sexual relationships forbidden by the Torah are intended to prohibit non-Israelite religious practices and abuses of power.
In the beginning of this portion, the Torah notes that the following laws were given “after the death of Aaron’s two sons.” Then the Yom Kippur service is described, including ritual purifications and the sending of the “scapegoat” into the wilderness. Rules are given for separating meat from its blood, and other dietary laws. Finally, there is a list of forbidden sexual relationships, given in the context of a general prohibition against following the practices of other nations.
“You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is abhorrent” (Leviticus 18:22).
This whole section of the Torah is called the arayot, literally the “nakednesses” (if that’s a word). It is a list of sexual relationships forbidden to Israelite men, including various forms of incest, bestiality, and, apparently, homosexual relationships.
This verse is one of the most problematic in the entire Torah; its meaning seems to be quite obvious, and yet it is extremely difficult for many Jews to take at face value. Could the Torah — which has at its core the message that Israel must not despise or abuse the weak, helpless, or outnumbered in its midst — really be declaring that loving relationships between two consenting adults is abhorrent, even worthy of the death penalty? (Cf. Leviticus 20:13, a repetition and strengthening of this prohibition.)
It makes no sense from an ethical perspective: A central purpose of ethics is to regulate and make fair differentials in power and privilege. To put it another way, ethics is about keeping everybody from taking advantage of one another. Thus, mutually consenting relationships between equals would seem to present no ethical problem.
Many people of a traditional religious perspective see these verses as establishing the primacy of heterosexual relationships — for them, the ethical message is one of preserving “traditional” — i.e., heterosexual — families. The claim is often made that validating gay or lesbian relationships would undermine such families and give people the “option” of choosing nontraditional lives. Yet the children of gay and lesbian families turn out to be gay at roughly the same rate as everybody else — so this theory would seem to have little credence.
It seems, rather, that some people are naturally attracted to same-gender relationships, and find in them all the emotional and personal fulfillment that any heterosexual couple might hope for.
Let’s assume further that a good and loving God would not create certain people to face the awful choice between permanent loneliness and loyalty to Torah — I cannot accept that the God of Israel’s Redemption would not love all those who are created in God’s Image.
So how then do we interpret, or re-interpret, these verses, which apparently deny gay and lesbian Jews even the possibility of affirmation? Dr. Avi Rose, a psychologist and Jewish educator (and sometimes Kolel faculty), reviews current thinking about the historical context of this verse in a lovely and moving essay in the anthology Recreations.
Dr. Rose notes, for example, that the prohibitions on homosexuality occur in the context of rules forbidding Israelites from copying the religious practices of other nations. Furthermore, he quotes scholars who show that other ancient nations did, in fact, engage in rituals with temple prostitutes “of both genders.” The word for “abhorrent act,” to’evah, may be specifically related to non-Israelite religious practice.
Another possibility is that the Torah is specifically forbidding relationships between grown men and boys. This would make more sense as an ethical rule, given that children can never be considered truly consenting in sexual relationships.
What seems clear to me is that this text in Leviticus could not have been prohibiting long-term, loving, open, committed relationships between people of the same genders — because such relationships were probably inconceivable to the Torah’s human editors. Instead, the Torah seems to be talking about sex in the context of non-Israelite religious practices, or abusive uses of power, or some kind of sexual contact outside established, consensual relationships.
In other words, the Torah is probably prohibiting the kind of sexual behaviors a contemporary Jewish ethic might posit as problematic for any religious and ethically sensitive Jew, gay or straight. By looking at both historical context and making plain our theological assumptions, one may thus find the seeds of ethical guidance and holiness of deed in even the most difficult and controversial passage.
Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger is currently the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie, NY. A former student at Kolel, he served as Kolel's Director of Outreach from late 1999-2001. He was ordained in the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism, and holds a Master's of Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto.
Finally a Christian perspective published with permission of the author. The views are that of the author and not my own.
Four More Sins That Are Also Okay If You Ignore the Bible on Homosexuality by Alex Kocman
'The Adoration of the Golden Calf' by Nicolas Poussin
Some call Romans 1 a "clobber passage" against homosexuality, but Paul's purpose is to show how idolatry is at the root of all sorts of sin, and that the only solution is Christ. (Nicolas Poussin)
In my article last week titled "4 Sins That Are Also Okay If You Ignore Leviticus on Homosexuality," I described the "Leviticus game" tactic used by individuals such as Matthew Vines. Pick the most absurd-sounding commandments in the Mosaic Law (to our ears, that is) and use them to undermine Leviticus 18:22's clear prohibition of homosexuality. Works like a charm, right?
One of the problems with this argument is if you look at Leviticus 18, you will notice that it also prohibits other sins including incest, bestiality, adultery and child sacrifice. Of course, Leviticus is not exactly an instruction manual on Christian life under the New Covenant, but it is clear that this portion of the book is teaching universal moral principles—reflecting the heart of a holy God.
What I neglected to mention in my earlier article is that there is another game at play among the common "gay Christian" arguments.
For those who think Leviticus has nothing to say to modern society, Romans 1 is a bit of a problem passage, because it is post-Jesus. Paul traces human sin from its birth to full maturity, explaining why God's wrath is against all humanity—thus, the way of forgiveness is faith in Christ's righteous sacrifice for us, not morally fixing ourselves up so God will like us (see Romans 1:16-17).
Understood in its context, Romans 1 is abundantly clear: homosexuality is one of several sins that necessitated Christ's death to purchase righteousness for you and me.
But the "gay Christian" approach to Romans 1 is to say that it speaks of "excess." As Vines claimed in a recent debate:
[Paul] is talking about people who become so inflamed with their lusts and passions, and go off—they were having sex with people of the opposite sex, now they're even having sex with people of the same sex. It's a sign of their excess, their wantonness.
So, Paul's point is: all things in moderation? With all respect for the intelligent person Vines is, there are several problems with the argument—one being, namely, that his interpretation seems to tacitly condemn bisexuality (which I assume it was not his intention to do).
Using consistency as the measure of good biblical theology, pardon me as I engage in a bit more necessary satire—a round of the "Romans game," if you will—and see: are the other sins listed in Romans 1 also okay "in moderation"?
Just as verse 20 describes the sinful passion that manifests itself in homosexual behavior, verse 29 describes sinful passion manifesting as "deceit."
Vines is partially right: there is an excess being described here. But it is not "excessive" homosexual lust, it's excessive sinful desire (of which any amount is too much). And the overflow of sinful desire is always sinful actions, not "excess" in general.
That same sinful passion from the heart, which every human being shares, pops up in a variety of different forms. But deceit is not acceptable in even the smallest amount.
Have you ever lied? Then you are by definition a liar. That is why Christ had to die for you.
The passage continues....
"They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness," Paul writes in verse 29, using the same "they" as he did in the verses on homosexuality, describing all of humanity at varying levels.
Not all people are murderers, nor is everyone homosexual (obviously). But Paul's point is that both sins stem from the same root for sinfulness inside every person's heart. As proof, 1 John 3:15 says, "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." And in regard to lust—including heterosexual lust—Jesus himself said, "I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
So if you have ever hated someone or glanced at a woman walking by, you are a murder and adulterer in your heart. That is, again, why Christ died in your place.
No one is without sin in their hearts. We all express that sin in different ways, but the root is the same. That is why, through the death and resurrection of Christ for our sakes, God promises, "I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).
I will admit, this one steps on a lot of toes (including my own, at times). But Paul, referring to the same "they" (all of sinful humanity), again writes in verses 29-30: "They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless."
And as much as it goes against this culture's grain to say it, not even gossip is acceptable to Christ, our judge, in moderation. Only his blood can cover your guilt and free you from the punishment you deserve.
But at the root of all these sins, the underlying culprit is...
Unlike Leviticus 18, Romans 1 is far more than a list of dos and don'ts. It makes an incredible statement: since all of God's "invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made," then every human being who has ever lived—even the pygmy who has never heard of Jesus Christ—is "without excuse" (v. 20).
So picture this: God makes a world where all of nature—stars, forests, sunsets and the human conscience—screams at the top of its lungs: "There is a God!" So for man to disobey (remember Adam and Eve?), he has to start by doing one thing: suppressing that knowledge.
That's why verse 21 says, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened."
And once man suppressed the fact of God speaking through his creation, only one "god" remains for man to worship instead: creation itself. Verse 23 outlines it. Man "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things." Or, in 21st century terms, cars, sex, money, power, entertainment, popularity and career.
From the beginning, man has been forgetting God and loves the blessing more than the benefactor. He worships the creation instead of the Creator (see v. 25).
God's response to us? Have it your way.
God allowed people to be controlled by their own sinful desires once they stop worshipping him and acknowledging him. The example Paul uses here is homosexuality: "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error" (v. 26-27).
Urgent: Heart Transplant Needed
This is not some convoluted philosophical argument from the first century. The pattern still happens today: man forgets God, God gives him over to sin.
Earlier this week, I was watching a World Cup game with a friend of mine who is Hindu by birth. He made a comment about people who "worship" sports—screaming their heads off, painting their faces up, etc. "It's true; everyone worships something," I replied.
Then, the Holy Spirit stirred me to follow up: "What do you worship in your life?" I asked. He paused and began to choke up. His "god," he admitted instantly, is his mother. He began to share how his mother died of a brain hemorrhage after his family's gods failed to heal her of her health difficulties. That day, my friend lost faith in his Hindu deities—as well as in the true God of the Bible—and made his mother his idol, literally. He now prays to her each day and is absolutely convinced that she hears him and answers him.
This example may sound silly, but it represents what we all do without God. We take God off the throne in our hearts and put something far lesser there instead. God judges us, in response, by letting us be ruled by that lesser thing we love so much—no matter how ridiculous it is.
It boggles my mind that my friend doesn't realize: his "god," his mother, could not ever heal herself on earth—how could she be worthy of worship? Yet at the same time, the rest of us have idols that are ever dumber—material possessions, food, body image and more. Paul's point is that we all trade God for something stupid in comparison.
This chapter teaches us that the carnal, fleshly desire for sex outside of heterosexual marriage is another one of those idols, a form of creation-worship. Unlike my friend's mother-idol, the idol of homosexuality is enormously popular among those who are not engaged in it themselves. But Paul has a warning for those who endorse the sins listed in Romans 1: "Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them"! And death here is not some Old Testament stoning; it is the fact that we all die (because we are all imperfect sinners, mortal by nature) and then have to face "spiritual death": God's judgment in Hell.
We have all forgotten God. We have all worshipped lesser things with our time and money. And we have all been given over to sinful desires that manifest outwardly in various ways—some of which are in vogue, others not.
John Calvin referred to the human heart as an idol-making factory. And it is.
That is why the message of Christ is not about being a "good person." Being a good person is impossible without a heart transplant—receiving heart loved by God and is actually capable of loving God in return.
By dying to take our punishment, making us "dead" to sin, and rising from the dead to make us alive to truly know God, Jesus gave us that heart. His heart.
His blood will atone for every wrong thing you have ever done—from gossiping to sexual sin—and his Spirit placed inside you tears out the root of sinful desire, replacing it with a desire for God... of which no excess is ever enough.
is an associate editor and writer for Christian Life News and Charisma News with a background in biblical studies. You can read his blog or follow him on Twitter via @ajkocman.