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OPINION

Trouble With Ultra-Orthodox

By Michael Lucas
Friday, July 06, 2007

Gay Pride in Jerusalem once again made international headlines. Thousands marched in the June 28 event, but about 7,000 police were deployed to ensure everyone’s safety amidst protests of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

I have visited those areas in Jerusalem infested with Hassids, most recently last summer during the war provoked by a Hezbollah attack against Israel. There can be no doubt that these religious goons are the anal warts on the body of Israeli society. Their main activities are praying and breeding. For those huge accomplishments, they are excused from serving in the Israeli Defense Forces and are given welfare by the government, so that they never have to rest from praying and breeding to work like everyone else.
They are a small percentage of the society, but if somebody doesn’t stop the vermin from breeding full-time, there’s no telling what could happen in the future. If the Hassidim dominated, they would not hesitate to outlaw shaving cream. To make sure the beards they forced people to grow were not well-trimmed, they might even outlaw scissors.

I had always heard from non-ultra-orthodox Israelis straight and gay that the government should stop coddling these parasites. In many ways, secular Israeli society is more progressive and open-minded than is mainstream America. Yet we see the Hassidic scourge, tarnishing the Israeli record.

Recent years in Jerusalem, for example, have seen ultra-orthodox fanatics trying to limit the freedoms of gay people in Israel. As ever with religious maniacs, the haredim, as they are called, think that their delusional notions regarding religious texts compel them to fulfill a divine duty to defend God and his alleged principles.

The illogic is stunning. A supposed “supreme being” is said to be “all powerful” and to be the creator of everything. Yet the gay people he created are “an abomination.” And to top that, the all-powerful God doesn’t have independent means to silence the gay people he created. When they ask for complete legal equality; he needs the help of his most devout followers in denying it to them.

Haredi methods of enforcing what they claim is God’s will are totally ungodly. In 2005, Jerusalem Pride was disrupted by supposed men of God so devoted to a holy way of life that they hurled bags full of feces and urine at the gay marchers, none of whom had given the least indication of being into watersports or scat play. An observer could wonder if the ultra-orthodox throwing those bags have repressed desires for a hot W/S scene.

The same people who showed the mental stability inherent in throwing bags of poop and pee at strangers carried signs proclaiming, “Homosexuality is a sickness.”

Also in 2005, there was a move to make Jerusalem the host of the year’s World Pride event. All of a sudden, the religious leaders from three dominant groups—Jews, Muslims, Christians—were falling over each other in agreement that World Pride was tantamount to the end of the world. The Chief Sephardic rabbi said that gays were creating “a deep and terrible sorrow that is unbearable.” Cry me a river.
A Sufi sheik said “This is very ugly and very nasty to have these people come to Jerusalem.” Hate can be a great uniter, as Hitler so well understood.

The worst part of the 2005 haredim actions occurred when Shai Schlissel sought to defend the holiness of Jerusalem by rushing into the march and stabbing a man and a woman. He also stabbed a third man who attempted to get him to stop defending the holiness of Jerusalem with a dagger.

2006 and 2007 Pride events in Jerusalem found the haredim hell-bent on proving that God is too busy in heaven to take care of his creation on earth without their help. And boy, did God get help! Riots in the streets, garbage cans set on fire, socks filled with stones thrown at innocents; if God approves such actions, then God is quite the son of a bitch.

Yet the modern country of Israel, thanks be to God, has an effective, secular legal system. A wingnut may not charge into a gay Pride and stab people with impunity. Shai Schlissel is sitting behind bars, and for all I care, they can feed him a diet consisting entirely of pork wrapped in bacon, even if it would be a shame for a pig to give its life to feed a religious bigot.

Gay journalist Wayne Besen’s recent column, titled “Israel’s Tragic Miscalculation,” eloquently expressed the sense of disappointment we feel over any indulgence of homophobia in Israel. I largely agree with what he said. Yet I also feel tremendously relieved, and even proud of the Israeli justice system that Shai Schlissel is in captivity, paying his debt to society after stabbing three people who had done him no physical violence.

Despite the haredim, Israel remains the one beacon of tolerance of LGBT people in the Middle East. I feel quite sure there will be Pride marches in Jerusalem in 2008, 2009 and every year thereafter, just as I feel quite sure we will never in our lifetimes see such events in Tunis or Gaza City. I wish there were something I could say to make the haredim see reason. For that matter, I wish they would sign a contract with Armani and have him clothe the haredim—at least when they go running around in the blazing heat in dark black suits, they would look more stylish.

Yet nobody should confuse the haredim with the decent majority in Israel, who make sure that when a Shai Shlissel stabs Pride marchers, he goes to jail. What the extreme Christian right is to the U.S., ultra-orthodox Jews are to Israel; religiously deluded jerks who do not merit the political influence they alas enjoy.

Michael Lucas is the president and CEO of LucasEntertainment.com. You can read more about his thoughts and his XXX movies at LucasBlog.com.

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