A hallowed tenet of liberal decency is that sexual preferences are determined by nature. A beloved belief of right-wing extremists is that liberals are homosexuals. Brian Whitaker of the Guardian, known in the past for his supposedly progressive crusades against "Zionists" and "Neo-Cons" who supposedly fomented the war in Iraq, and against the "Zionist" occupation, has proven himself an (excuse the expression) political invert.
Writing about gay liberation in Israel, Whitaker stated in the Guardian
The gay rights movement in Israel also has a questionable history. Lee Walzer, author of Between Sodom and Eden, explains in an article that the first Israeli activists pursued "a very mainstream strategy" that "reinforced the perception that gay rights was a non-partisan issue, unconnected to the major fissure in Israeli politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict and how to resolve it".
What is the logical connection between sexual preferences, permissiveness about sexual preferences, and the Arab-Israeli conflict? Indeed there is one, as it happens, but it is not what Whitaker (hiding behind Walzer) thinks it is. Every Israeli Arab politician has definite views about the Arab-Israeli conflict and about Israeli presence in the West Bank, and many have definite views about Jewish presence anywhere in "Palestine." They want the Jews out of there of course. However, contradicting Whitakers' thesis, Israeli Arab politicians are not particularly favorable to gay liberation. Whitaker should not be surprised.
Indeed, Whitaker himself documents the consequences, in the Arab community when one Arab Israeli lesbian "came out:"
...[H]er car windows were smashed and tyres were punctured several times, she received innumerable threatening letters and phone calls, and, to top it all, 'coincidentally' lost her job as a school teacher, since parents of pupils complained that they did not want her as a teacher."
Relying on Whitaker's axiom, we must assume that all of those Arabs support Greater Israel, but somehow one doubts that it is so.
Of course, the conflict with Israel is somehow at fault for this, according to Whitaker:
With a few exceptions here and there, this is the prevailing attitude in all the Arab countries, but in Palestinian society the issue of gay rights is further complicated - and made much more political - by the conflict with Israel.
Whitaker has uncovered a sinister Zionist plot behind Israel's gay rights policies, even worse than the plot of the Jews to start the Iraq war, which he uncovered in 2002:
These are undisputed achievements but they have also become a propaganda tool, reinforcing Israel's claim to be the only liberal, democratic society in the Middle East.
"Propaganda" implies either that Israel is lying, or that us sneaky Zionists gave rights to homosexuals just to fool people. In the same way, democracy in Britain and the US was used as a "propaganda tool" against Nazism and communism, another sneaky Zionist conspiracy.
Whitaker came pretty close to hitting the nail on the head when he wrote:
The question here is whether gay rights - in Israel or elsewhere - can really be divorced from politics or treated in isolation from other human rights.
No doubt that rights of any kind cannot be divorced from politics. Right to vote, reproductive rights, women's rights, freedom of religion and freedom of sexual preference are all bound up with liberal democracy. Wherever there is repression, reaction and totalitarianism, all civil rights suffer. As part of the sinister Zionist propaganda plot to fool Europeans, Israel has freedom of the press, equality for women, freedom of religion and freedom of sexual preferences. Our more honest Muslim and Arab neighbors, who would not dream of succumbing to such foul tricks, arrest, torture, and occasionally hang homosexuals, just as they may be intolerant of "infidels," regulate the press, rig elections and carry out other honest practices in the honorable traditions of the Middle East. He got that right.
But then Whitaker, or the people he quotes to prove his point, get confused again. He continues:
Helem, the Lebanese gay and lesbian organisation, thinks not, arguing that gay rights are an inseparable part of human rights - as does Ms Morcos.
For Ms Morcos, there's a connection between nationality, gender and sexuality. She has a triple identity, as a lesbian, a woman and a Palestinian (despite having an Israeli passport) - "a minority within a minority within a minority", as she puts it. Her first concern, though, is to end the Israeli occupation, and she sees no prospect of achieving gay rights for Palestinians while it continues.
Whitaker and his friends apparently believe, or want us to believe, that when the Hamas or the Hezbollah finally "liberate" Ms Morcos' home city of "occupied" Haifa, they will institute a society something like San Francisco. Meanwhile, Ms Morcos and her fellow homosexuals will have to content themselves with holding gay pride parades in Tehran and Riyadh.
Guardian readers and Palestinian homosexuals who think that "liberated" "Palestine" is going to be a paradise of sexual enlightenment would be in for a very unpleasant surprise if it ever happens. Mr. Hassan Nassrallah and the Hamas organization have sex "morality" codes that would make Pat Robertson look like a liberal.
In Iran, the spiritual homeland of Nasrallah, men are hanged for "penetrative and non-penetrative sexual acts between men." HRW, (a well known Zionist propaganda mouthpiece) reports that two men were hanged in Iran for this offence in 2005.Lesbians get a break. According to Wikipedia, the punishment for female homosexuality is as follows:
The punishment for female homosexuality involving persons who are mature, of sound mind, and consenting, is 100 lashes. If the act is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will apply on the fourth occasion. (Articles 127, 129, 130).
In Saudi Arabia, a regime which is liberal compared to the Hamas and the Salafist enemies of the Saudi government, the official punishment for male homosexuality is beheading. Though Amnesty International reported two such deaths, it is not clear to what extent the law is enforced. A gay reporter noted:
I brought up the executions that had taken place earlier in the year, and asked point-blank if they feared dying should they be found out...[T]hey all scoffed at the notion that simply being discovered to be gay would lead to the death penalty.
"Our government controls information tightly, and excels in propaganda," says "Salim," a 46-year-old civil engineer with gray hair and a bushy mustache. "So I can’t tell you why those men died." Salim—who asked that his real name not be used—eloquently summarized most of what the other men had also told me.
"I can tell you there is more sex between men in Saudi Arabia than other places," he believes, largely because men simply do not have the opportunity to interact with women in Saudi society...
There are real dangers if the police discover men cruising or having sex, he admits, but the threat is not getting your head chopped off. "They might threaten to expose you to your family if you don’t pay them money, or they might [sexually] abuse you," says Salim. If you are arrested for gay conduct, the typical reaction, says Salim, is to be sent to a hospital for the equivalent of so-called "reparative therapy," that tries to make gays straight.
Indeed, Palestinian homosexuals have much to look forward to when "Palestine" is "liberated."
Whitaker's confusion about sex preferences, permissiveness and political identity is symptomatic of a fundamental problem of anti-Israel leftists, progressives and liberals. They hold logically inconsistent views. It is not logically possible for real progressives to side with repressive medieval governments, but that is what happens if you insist that parts of "Palestine" like Haifa must be "liberated." The folks doing the "liberating" are going to be big liberal heroes like Hassan Nassrallah and the Hamas. If there were any logic in the world, they would be heroes of the "family values" crowd. We can be sure that Mr. Nasrallah adores "family values."
One logical inconsistency leads to the other, so Whitaker finds himself presenting, and implicitly defending, the thesis that somehow all homosexuals have to be for "human rights," all those who want to "liberate" "Palestine" must be for sexual permissiveness, and all those who oppose it must be evil reactionary people who favor sexual repression. In reality the opposite is largely true. Whitaker resolves the dissonance by dismissing Israeli democracy as "propaganda."
In addition to the conflict between his progressivism and his anti-"Zionism," Whitaker is torn between being a professional reporter, and doing his usual hatchet job about Israel. There is no way to address a progressive audience about homosexual rights in the Middle East and really make Israel come out looking like reactionary colonialist imperialist warmongers, while Israel's Arab and Muslim neighbors are made to look like the forces of progress and light. At least nobody found a way yet. Whitaker's professionalism forces him to tell the story that is there, despite asides about Israeli "propaganda." That story has to make the "Zionist regime" look good, and that makes Whitaker uneasily apparently. The result is an amusing study in contrasts.
Anti-"Zionism" makes strange bedfellows. Get wise Mr. Whitaker. Fifty years ago it was understood that people who lash homosexuals and hate Jews are not "progressives" or "human rights" supporters. Sooner or later, everyone will have to choose between liberal values and support for anti-"Zionism" and "liberation" of "Palestine." The two do not mix.
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Replies: 3 Comments
"What kind of Bullshit do people write on this site?"
To answer your question, Michael U, they obviously allowed you to publish your inarticulate and wholly irrelevant comment. Now go have a lie down.
left, but not antizionist, Sunday, October 15th
Whitaker is the personification of the theory that the best way to establish your grievance as a victim of persecution is to find common cause with other "victims". "Palestinians" are the clear victims of hegemonic Zionism and homosexuals are the clear victims of the inherently homophoebic majority of heteros. Factor in decades of Arabist influence in British political, academic and media circles and you get a Brian Whitaker or a Ken Livingstone, ready to defend the likes of Sheik Qawadari, even if you have to tie yourself into a pretzel-like piece of "reasoning" to do so.
Lynne T, Wednesday, October 11th
Long live Israel, Death to the enemies of Israel. What kind of Bullshit do people write on this site?
Michael U, Tuesday, October 10th
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