Sunday, May 9, 2010

Gay father denied permission to bring sons home

From Haaretz

A homosexual father of twins who were born to a surrogate mother in India is being denied permission to enter the country with his infant sons. The move stems from a family court's refusal to issue a standard legal order that would pave the way for the children to obtain Israeli citizenship.

For the past two months Dan Goldberg and his twin sons, Itai and Liron, have been staying at a Mumbai hotel, awaiting permission from the Jerusalem Family Court to proceed with a paternity test that would determine whether he is indeed their biological father.

Itay and Liron waiting in India

Itai and Liron Goldberg have been denied permission to enter Israel.

Photo by: Courtesy of the family

Until the test is performed, the babies will not be granted entry into the country, nor will they be eligible to receive health insurance or medical treatments.

In dozens of prior instances, family courts have issued decrees requiring Israeli parents of children born abroad to undergo DNA testing to confirm they are in fact the biological parents - a prerequisite for the childrens' naturalization as Israeli citizens.

In Goldberg's case, the twin boys were delivered by a gestational carrier who had been implanted with an embryo from another woman. Goldberg cannot legally bring the babies into the country without permission from the court to perform a paternity test.

Judge Philip Marcus, unlike his colleagues on other family court benches, rendered a decision this past March in which he stated that he lacked the jurisdiction to issue a court order for Goldberg to take a paternity test. In addition to the Goldberg case, Marcus has also delayed issuing decrees in two other instances involving homosexual couples from Jerusalem expecting the birth of their children via surrogacy.

In explaining his decision, and as appears in the state protocol, Marcus stated: "If it turns out that one of the [purported fathers] sitting here is a pedophile or serial killer, these are things that the state must examine."

An appeal was filed on Goldberg's behalf with the Jerusalem District Court, yet a panel of primarily religiously observant judges agreed with the petitioner's claim that Marcus does have authority to issue an order for a paternity test, but ordered that a legal guardian be appointed to represent the minors, and that the case be referred back to Marcus.

"This is a state of contradictions," Goldberg, a 42-year-old Jerusalem restaurateur, said via telephone in Mumbai. "I'm an Israeli citizen, I served in a combat unit during two intifadas and I still serve in the reserves. I've also volunteered with the police for years. But when I want to realize my right to be a parent, the state kicks me to the curb."

No time to reflect

Each of the three prospective fathers who have been denied the court order for a paternity test requested the assistance of a clinic in India to begin the surrogacy process, over the course of the last year. Each also signed a legally binding agreement with a woman, an Indian citizen, who agreed to carry the child to term after being implanted with an embryo. The egg donor and the child's carrier renounced any claims to the children.

Late last year, each of the three men filed separate appeals with the Jerusalem Family Court to begin the process of confirming their paternity by DNA testing so that the children who were either born or had yet to be delivered would receive Israeli citizenship. After appearing before Marcus this past March, the three men were surprised when the judge ruled that he lacked the authority to issue the order - despite the fact that other family court judges had repeatedly done so in prior surrogacy cases.

Homosexual couples in Israel who wish to conceive a child via surrogacy primarily pursue this option in the United States and India. As the practice has become more widespread, the Interior Ministry issued a set of guidelines that codify the process of naturalization for the newborns so that they would be legally permitted entry into the country. In the case of male homosexual couples, because only one parent can be the biological father, the other is usually required to go through the process of adopting the baby in order to receive recognition as the child's legal guardian.

In his conversation with Haaretz yesterday, Goldberg sounded frustrated. He has so far spent $45,000 to complete the surrogacy process, after looking for ways to have children for four years. After two failed attempts at in vitro fertilization in India, he finally realized his dream.

Goldberg, who is struggling to get by while in India, has not been able to find time to reflect on the experience. "The cost of living here over time is exorbitant," he said. "Since I need to provide my children with a good environment, the hotel is reasonable. But they have no insurance, I can't get them the vaccinations that babies usually receive in Israel, and I can't afford the costs of medical check-ups.

"I've burned through my savings and I have asked foreigners to help me financially," he continued. "Other couples that came to Mumbai after me have already left India with their children - who received citizenship because they received the court order for the paternity test from judges who are not in Jerusalem.

"Let me wage this legal battle with my children in Israel, not India," he said.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

National Pride

http://vimeo.com/9269273

Michael Lucas to Debate at Oxford University

Lucas Entertainment President and CEO Michael Lucas will participate in Oxford Union’s upcoming debate on Thursday, June 3rd, held at Oxford University in England. Lucas will be debating in proposition of the motion “This House Believes That The Gay Rights Movement Has Undermined Family Values.”

When asked why Lucas was chosen as a debater, Alexander Lau, organizer of the debate said, “First, we thought that his resolute identification with the Jewish community, in the context of open homosexuality, would lend him strong opinions on the ‘family values’ around which our debate centres. Second, his vociferous advocation of safe sex in the gay community epitomises attempts by the gay rights movement to appear more closely aligned to traditional mores, and to move away from old stereotypes. Michael’s position at the forefront of the gay entertainment industry can but make this message all the more compelling.”

“Oxford University is a world-renowned institution, and a global leader in education and scholarship,” said Lucas. “I am honored that Oxford chose me as a debater on such an interesting and important topic. I will do my best to convey how the LGBT community has expanded and improved upon concepts about what it means to be a family.”

Michael Lucas

In the past, Lucas has lectured on topics ranging from the adult industry, safe sex, and relationships, to politics, the LGBT community, and Israel. Lucas has previously spoken at Yale University (first at a master’s tea, then as a member of a panel discussion on pornography), New York University, Rutgers University, and Stanford University. His appearance at Stanford sparked five highly discussed articles in the school’s press:

http://www.stanforddaily.com/2008/02/14/adult-film-stars-remarks-spark-debate/

http://www.stanforddaily.com/2008/02/14/silencing-speakers/

http://www.stanforddaily.com/2008/02/14/op-ed-racism-and-intolerance-disappointing-at-a-liberal-university/

http://www.stanforddaily.com/2008/02/15/lucas-talks-safe-sex-aids-and-controversy/

http://www.stanforddaily.com/2008/02/19/op-edthe-power-of-knowledge/

Lucas’ article “On Gay Porn” was included in a 2006 volume of the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism.

Oxford Union

The Oxford Union is the world’s most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. Established in 1823, it aims to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe. Previous speakers include former U.S. Attorney General and Senator Robert Kennedy, Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, scientist Albert Einstein, numerous British Prime Ministers, several United States Presidents, and many other important individuals from a range of disciplines.

Elton John Banned from Egypt

From Jpost

Popular British musician Elton John has been banned from performing a private concert in Egypt, DPA reported on Monday.

According to the report, the 63-year-old openly homosexual performer was prohibited from playing in the Arab country because of anti-religious sentiments that he had purportedly expressed.


The news agency quoted Mounir al-Wasimi, the head of Egypt’s Musician Union, as saying that his country could not allow “a homosexual who wants to ban religions, claimed that the prophet Issa (Jesus) was gay and calls for Middle Eastern countries to allow gays to have sexual freedom” to perform there.

John drew controversy earlier this year when he intimated in an interview with the AmericanParade magazine that there was no tolerance for homosexuals in Arab countries. "I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East - you're as good as dead," he told the magazine.

Also in the February interview, the performer stated that Jesus had been a “super-intelligent gay man,” a conclusion he reached after reading about the Christian savior’s compassionate and understanding nature.

Friday, April 30, 2010

MK Katz: Cancel 'gay pride meeting' at Knesset

In letter to Knesset Speaker Rivlin, National Union chairman says 'shocked' to receive invitation to event organized by Meretz MK Horowitz


National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz has asked Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to cancel a gay pride conference organized by Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), which is scheduled to take place at the Knesset on June 1.

The meeting is expected to be attended by leaders of the homosexual and lesbian community in Israel, Knesset members, ministers and the family members of the victims of a shooting attack at a Tel Aviv GLBT club last August.

In a letter addressed to Rivlin, titled 'Protecting the Knesset's dignity", Katz wrote: "I was shocked and amazed to receive an email invitation from MK Horowitz to attend an event at the Knesset on the subject of 'pride day'.


"Alongside the strange name, which symbolizes the opposite of any normal ethical value a human being should aspire to, all the more so a Jew, the possibility that such a provocative event will be held in the house of Israel's lawmakers should concern every member of the Jewish culture.

"Our holy Torah, the Torah of life, sees the world's existence in its normal and healthy form as a supreme value. Our Torah referred to what this conference is meant to represent as an 'abomination'. Within a nation which is a source of inspiration, our role is to be the pillar of fire lighting the way for the rest of the world's nations, which are watching us and learning from us," Katz noted in his letter.

"We do not seek to impose a way of life on the individual, but it's unthinkable that the individual would impose his desires and way of life on everyone else and especially not on the general public's symbols."

Horowitz: Katz obsessed with gay community

It should be noted that Horowitz held a similar conference about a year ago, and that the Knesset speaker welcomed the initiative and even addressed the participants. Katz said he had not known about the event last year.

"Concepts which used to be holy and pure are wearing out, and there is a sense of confusion among young people influenced by a foreign culture… We must do the right thing and examines ways to encourage family values based on Israel's heritage.


Horowitz said in response, "The letter is disgusting. It should concern not only members of the gay community and their family members, but anyone who cares about Israel's existence as a democratic state. MK Katz and his friends from the extreme Right are leading an inciting campaign and seek to turn Israel into Iran.

"It is now clear that MK Katz, who is obsessed with the gay community, has learned nothing from the attempted murder at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2005 and from the murder in 2009. The Knesset must face these words of defamation... and this is what will happen in the conference, which will take place in spite of the narrow-minded people."

Anti-Israel group could cost Toronto Gay Pride parade its funding

From Haaretz

The City of Toronto this month threatened to cut funding for its main gay pride event, following complaints by Canadian and Israeli gay rights activists who documented what they call acrimonious anti-Israel propaganda at the event.

Jewish gay rights activists from Toronto and Tel Aviv lauded the move, but the Toronto Jewish community's main body noted the city is yet to take any concrete action. Others, including prominent Canadian gays and pro-Palestinian campaigners, condemned the move as interference with free speech.

The municipality's general manager of culture, Mike Williams, told the Toronto Star this week that the city has received complaints following the use of the phrase "Israeli apartheid" at Pride Toronto. T-shirt slogans equating Israel to Nazi Germany were also reported, with some complaints coming from Israel.

He added the complaints pertained to the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid - or QuAIA - which may have violated the city's anti-discrimination policy in previous parades, and may do so again if allowed to participate this summer. This, he said, would have "very serious" repercussions for organizers.

"We have the right to disqualify [parade organizers] from future grants, so we certainly would look at that," he warned. In 2009, the city funded Pride Toronto to the tune of $175,000. Funding for 2010 has already been pledged, but the city may halt it in 2011.

Elle Flanders, the spokesperson for Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, commented that the T-shirts in question were not anti-Israel but rather anti-racist. ?There were no Nazi symbols?there were T-shirts that were worn by anti-racist activists with a NO to fascism sign (crossed out swastika) who marched with us, who have been marching in Pride for years,? said Flanders in an e-mail to Haaretz..

The decision by the city - which is among the world's gay-friendliest - came after repeated complaints by Martin Gladstone, a Toronto lawyer and gay rights activist, who made a film about QuAIA entitled "Reclaiming our Pride." In the film, activists at a Pride Tononto 2009 parade call Israel an "apartheid state" and one of them wears a T-shirt with a crossed-out swastika.

"How does demonizing Israel celebrate gay rights?" Gladstone said, adding: "It creates a hateful and exclusionary environment." Jonathan Danilowitz, a prominent, South Africa-born gay rights activist from Tel Aviv, praised the city's stand, which he defined as "going against hypocrisy."

Flanders, a Jewish filmmaker and artist who is also a PhD candidate in Toronto, rejected these accusations, adding that they were meant to "shut down the debate" and that she will "start a defamation suit against the next person who attempts to call us anti-Semitic."

Born in Montreal, Flanders, 44, said that she grew up in Israel with her parents before returning to Canada after her first year at Hebrew University. "Many of us in the group are Jews, many with long histories of Jewish activism and human rights work," she said.


Gladstone, the pro-Israel film maker, responded by saying that groups like Flanders' "always put the Jews in front to deflect the accusation."

Pro-Israel groups such as StandWithUs have in the past few years been mounting a concentrated effort to advertise Israel as a gay-friendly society in stark contradiction to its neighbors, where homosexuality is illegal and gays are often persecuted.

Flanders said that "when Israel flaunts its record on gay rights achievements, it does not excuse the occupation and/or other human rights abuses and war crimes.

Gay, Jewish, HIV-positive: Scott Fried speaks out

From Haaretz

Brooklyn-born Scott Fried was infected with HIV as a young man more than two decades ago and has devoted the last 18 years of his life to lecturing youngsters, primarily in the United States, about sex and relationship education.

A traditional Jew who attends a gay and lesbian synagogue in Manhattan, Fried had to live with the scourge of coming out as a homosexual and admitting he was HIV-positive at the same time.

The confession was difficult on both fronts, as "parents go into the closet when you come out" and he was forced to hide his HIV status to his extended family for many years.

But Fried has made it his mission to help youngsters, both those who have had to confront contracting HIV as well as those facing various other emotional struggles, who call on Fried's advice on a wide gamut of issues.

Fried, 46, says he prefers to tell the narrative of his life from his Jewish roots, because "when I'm talking to a Jewish audience I don't have to be apologetic when I speak about God."

He is the author of three acclaimed books geared toward teenagers, the latest entitled "A Private Midnight: A Teenager's Scrapbook of Secrets."

He describes the book as a "scrapbook and workbook of secrets for teens," essentially "10 questions I would have asked as a teenager: one is what miracles are we waiting for in order to establish ourselves? I answer it myself - my great uncle and aunt didn't make it to America before the Holocaust, and went through - and survived - Auschwitz."

"I would call it a communal anonymous voice for teens to share their deepest thoughts and feelings," says Fried. "I hope it can help parents and teachers crack the code of what it means to be a teen today."

Fried's own great uncle was on Schindler's list (Fischel Fried - number 624), a historical memory which seems to have served his own optimistic outlook. "When a teenager says 'I hate life', I say 'Look at their miracles'," he says.

When he began speaking to teens at schools, camps, synagogues and churches, Fried found he "related to them and that they opened up around me."

Thousands of teens have subsequently written and emailed him with their innermost thoughts as he "became their trusted adviser and friend."
Fried describes himself not as an AIDS activist, but as a sex and relationship activist - "empowering youngsters to make healthy choices."

"I'm healthy and still traveling all over the place in order to take up the challenge of educating youngsters about sexual health," he points out.

On Judaism

Fried says America's Orthodox community allows him "a place" in religion, as "they have a position that they don't want practicing homosexuals, but they know we exist."

"My culture is Friday night and a cup of Kiddush wine; I'm comfortable speaking under Jewish auspices because it gives me permission to talk about God, which I can't do in a university setting. But I can do so in a Jewish setting, in a non-apologetic way," he says.

Fried knows "a number of Orthodox Jews who have been infected [with HIV]" and says he has also been invited to a few Orthodox institutions - including once by NCSY [National Conference of Synagogue Youth] in Baltimore.

"However, most of the time it's Orthodox teenagers who approach me as part of a wider group such as a Jewish community centre or youth group."

Confronting HIV

Fried experienced a bombshell moment when he learned of his HIV status. "I got sick a few weeks after having unprotected sex in 1987 - an acute onset of symptoms. It was a flu-like thing," he says.

His initial test came back negative. "It takes three months for AIDS antibodies to come through. After six months I went for a test and it was positive: June 1, 1988:12.35, Wednesday afternoon. Sunny.

He pauses:

"I remember those details: 'Positive' ringing through my ears. The word trapped in my brain. I didn't hear a word that was said to me afterwards. I saw the back of my mother's head. My psyche wouldn't reveal a face as I imagined my father's words in my head saying - 'What have you done'."

Fried came out as a homosexual and revealed he was HIV-positive at the same time. "My family were supportive, but clandestine," he says. "Friends were supportive and worried."

At the time an off-Broadway dancer -"I never made it into Rent" - Fried remembers the show's director observing group support sessions and believes accounts used in the aforementioned musical come from what he said in those meetings.

He began his mission with the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, before expanding his remit beyond New York.

Fried treated his condition solely through vitamins until three years ago, when he suddenly lost 14 pounds. He now takes three pharmaceutical drugs a day, as well as his course of 30 vitamins.

"I don't find belligerence, much more compassion and tolerance," says Fried on how people react to his condition. "The issue [of HIV] raises concern in the States. It's shocking the way HIV has been relegated as an issue since the mid-1990s; it's not talked about by people in the mainstream institutions, so people want as much info as they can get. As parents don't give advice on SRE to their kids they want it from me."

Crusade

Fried spends most of his time lecturing in the U.S., a country he describes as having "a pretty miserable track record for teaching teens about comprehensive sexual heath".

He accepts that much of the debate about how to teach "sex education" concerns semantics.

"In America, we like to use the term 'comprehensive health education,' which would include both matters of sexuality and abstinence. I am not fond of the word compulsory as it has an unforgiving ring to it.

"Sex education should be offered, but not shoved down a teenager's throat," he add. "I do, however, believe that it's not solely the job of a school and teacher to deliver the information. It can be disseminated by a rabbi or priest, in a synagogue or church, extra-curricular after-school program, summer camp or volunteer mission."

"In this way, if and when compulsory sex education is removed from the schools due to political reasons, it won't have the same effect upon the teens as if the entire community was involved."

He is by no means a lone crusader, says Fried. "Others do what I do in America and people know about the epidemic. We had San Francisco in 1985 and Rent in 1988 - that was New York and my friends. "

And it's still the reality in 2010. "In the past seven months I?ve met four people who are newly infected, in their late 30s, all people who attended high school in the 80s, at the height of the epidemic."

Scott Fried is the author of three books: "A Private Midnight: A Teenager's Scrapbook of Secrets," "My Invisible Kingdom: Letters from the Secret Lives of Teens" and "If I Grow Up: Talking with Teens about AIDS, Love and Staying Alive."

www.scottfried.com

LGBT community does Israeli PR in San Francisco

'Out in Israel' festival portrays gay, lesbian Israeli art in area generally considered pro-Palestinian

From Yntet

San Francisco's LGBT community has launched a PR campaign for Israel, in an effort to restore the state's image in one of the most pro-Palestinian areas in the US.

Until the end of April the Israeli Consulate, with help from Jewish LGBT organizations, will be holding a culture festival called 'Out in Israel', which features the best of Israel's gay and lesbian singers.

The festival, backed by the Foreign Ministry, has been receiving extensive media coverage as well as a number of very warm responses.

The festival exposes the San Franciscan public, generally wary of Israel, to its pluralistic and tolerant side. In a country with a "don't ask don't tell" policy, many are coming to appreciate Israelfor a policy in which one can ask and tell.

Israeli films are also being shown in the Castro District, generally recognized as LGBT territory, and one of the most influential suburbs in the US.

The halls generally remain full, and a dance event that took place on Saturday attracted hundreds. A small anti-Israeli rally was held before the Roxy Theater, but was immediately countered by a pro-Israel protest.


Among those appearing at the festival are singer Yael Deckelbaum and MK Einat Wilf, who took part in a panel on Zionism and gay pride. Gil Hovav held a cooking workshop, and Yossi Berg and Oded Graf's production, 'Four Men, Alice, Bach, and a Deer' was shown at the Herbst Theatre.

"It is only proper for the Israeli Consulate to try to expose proud Israeli culture in San Francisco, a politically influential area capable of appreciating such original and pioneering art," Consul Akiva Tor explained.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

IDF soldiers new attraction for gay tourists

From Ynet.

They are fit, tan, confident, and exude Israeli ruggedness that is hard to withstand. These qualities apparently make IDF soldiers one of the most sought-after tourist attractions for gay tourists.

In recent years, numerous and varied attempts have been made to market Israel as a country friendly to gay tourists. Two New York companies, Steele Travel and Lucas Entertainment, offer travel packages to Israel for the gay community.

Lucas Entertainment, a porn production company, recently played a winning card in the battle over tourists' wallets. In addition to sites popular to gay tourists to Israel, the company offers an attraction that many a gay tourist would not want to miss – a visit to an IDF base and a memento picture with a sexy soldier taken by a professional photographer.

While the IDF suffers from a particularly negative image in world media, Israeli soldiers themselves, it turns out, are a different story. At least, this is what Michael Lucas, a porn actor, producer and owner of Lucas Entertainment, believes.

"The Israeli photographer I work with knows a lot of hot soldiers. He has already photographed some of them. So we are going to get some of them together, and whoever in the group is interested can take a picture with them," assured Lucas on Thursday.

Lucas, who was born in Russia to a Jewish family and immigrated to the US when he was 25, often proclaims his love for Israel in interviews. Last year, he even arrived in Israel to shoot a porn film entitled "Men of Israel."

Now comes the next step. Lucas is marketing an organized, nine-day tour of Israel that will leave on May 26. For $2,800 (not including airfare), gay tourists can visit the sites in Israel as well as meet with soldiers. Thus far, 18 people have signed up for the trip.

"I donate to the Friends of the IDF in the US, and its more than acceptable for donors to tour bases when they come to Israel," explained Lucas. "I submitted a request, and we are working on organizing the visit. I want to bring the tourists to a military base so that they see Israelis are a peace-seeking people who aren't looking for war, but are just trying to protect themselves."

Friends of the IDF said in response that all donors are received on IDF bases.

Despite the Zionist message, Lucas makes certain to present the Israeli soldiers as a fantasy. On the website promoting the trip, muscular men are depicted wearing military pants. In another picture, Lucas is seen hugging a man as both of them are wearing IDF uniforms.

Lucas claimed that he is not organizing these trips merely for personal profit: "I don't see any problem with a group of gay tourists visiting an IDF base. I am doing what the State has not been smart enough to do – marketing the beautiful side of Israel to the world."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

For Gay Palestinians, Tel Aviv Is Mecca

Al-Fatiha — which calls itself the principal international organization promoting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Arabs — is located not in Beirut or Cairo, but in Washington, D.C. And no wonder: The international movement for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people hardly exists inside the Muslim world.

Arab human rights organizations sometimes advocate for gay rights, but they do so sotto voce. In fact, the only country in the Middle East in which gay people may safely leave the closet is Israel. Which is why, for gay Palestinians, Tel Aviv is Mecca.

Gay Palestinian men flee to Israel because they are not safe in the West Bank and Gaza. They also have no place else to go.

“Israel is close and far at the same time,” says Haneen Maikey, a gay rights activist with Jerusalem Open House, one of the principal gay rights organizations in Israel. If the sexuality of a gay man in Palestine is exposed, his family might torture or kill him and the police will turn a blind eye.

Stories from the Territories

Mahmoud Zahar - Hamas Foreign Minister

“Are these the laws for which the Palestinian street is waiting? For us to give rights to homosexuals and to lesbians, a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick?”

Rami - 23 yearl old Gaza Refugee living in Tel Aviv

“When I was 11, I remember Fatah and other militant groups dragging people suspected of being gay out of their homes. They would break their legs and other bones and some were executed in public. Then the police would write on a wall the reason for the beating or killing as being against the morality of Islam.”

“Tel Elawa is the famous jail in Gaza up on a hill. There were many cells where people were tortured. Some rooms were pitch black, full of rats and cockroaches where you would be just left. Other people were given electric shocks; some had their heads tied into a sack full of shit.”

“You would be forced to sit on a glass bottle then kicked around until it broke inside you.”

Freikh Abu Meday - Minister of Justice for the PA

“We do not have a problem with this subject as there are no homosexuals living in the Palestinian Authority.”

Joseph Massad - AP of Modern Arab Politics & Intellectual History at Columbia University

"The Gay International whose "discourse ... produces homosexuals as well as gays and lesbians, where they do not exist."

"Orientalist impulse ... continues to guide all branches of the human rights community."

"For the Gay International, transforming sexual practices into identities through the universalizing of gayness and gaining 'rights' for those who identify (or more precisely, are identified by the Gay International) with it becomes the mark of an ascending civilization, just as repressing those rights and restricting the circulation of gayness is a mark of backwardness and barbarism,"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The American Jewish woman who brought feminism to Israel

From Haaretz.

For months the Knesset speaker rejected Marcia Freedman's request to speak about domestic violence in the legislature. In the end, the Knesset member finally received permission to raise the issue. "I hadn't even finished saying the words 'Honorable speaker, honorable Knesset,' when the heckling began," recalls Freedman, who is now 71. "Why the discrimination in how you're bringing up the issue?" shouted one MK from the Liberal party. "Why aren't you talking about wives who beat their husbands?" His colleagues giggled and several more similar jokes were made throughout her entire speech.

Hate Speech Growing in the Age of the Internet

From Towelroad.

The internet is allowing hate speech and groups to flourish, says a new report from the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Tolerance:

"Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the way people communicate. But, those sites also give racists and terrorists a public platform to spread their hateful messages. 'We've seen an increase of almost 40 percent,' said Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper. 'We're looking at over 11,500 problematic websites.' When Timothy McVeigh orchestrated the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the Internet was home to only one known hate site. 88-year-old white supremacist James Von Brunn, who shot a security guard at the National Holocaust Museum last year, kept an anti-Semitic website. Authorities say Colleen LaRose, aka "Jihad Jane", used YouTube for her alleged terror activities."


Just recently, David Badash over at The New Civil Rights Movement outlined a number of anti-gay hate sites, which, once pointed out, were hastily removed from Facebook.

Sacha Baron Cohen gets sued... shocker!

From USA Today.

A Palestinian shopkeeper and father portrayed as a terrorist in the movie Bruno is suing film star Sacha Baron Cohen, David Letterman and others for libel and slander.
The lawsuit filed last week by Ayman Abu Aita in District of Columbia federal court seeks $110 million in damages.

In the movie, Cohen plays a gay Austrian fashion journalist trying to make it big in the United States. To achieve worldwide fame, Bruno travels to the Middle East to make peace. He interviews Abu Aita, and a caption labels the Bethlehem shopkeeper as a member of the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

The Knesset Passes Civil Union Bill... But leaves gays out

From the Jpost.

With one of two crucial bills still in limbo, Israel Beiteinu succeeded late Monday night in passing a limited civil union bill, which would enable Israelis with no officially defined religion to join in civil union. But with no agreement reached on the conversion bill, coalition partners Shas decided to oppose the civil union measure.Israel Beiteinu had promised – and grounded in its coalition agreement with the Likud – that by the one-year anniversary of the forming of the government, on March 31, it would succeed in legislating a civil union bill.That anniversary falls during the Knesset recess that begins on Thursday, meaning that Israel Beiteinu needed to pass the bill before the end of the winter session. In an effort to do so, the party received exemptions last week from the House Committee from the usually required waiting-periods between hearings and votes on bills.

Jewish Borough President of Brooklyn attends Gay Vigil

From Towelroad.
A group of gay activists held a "kiss-out" in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn late yesterday afternoon near the spot where a man was brutally attacked by five men after leaving a gay event at South Brooklyn Pizza last week.Groups of four couples stationed themselves on street corners in the neighborhood and kissed for 20 minutes.

The action was followed a couple hours later by a vigil. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn Brooklyn, Borough President Marty Markowitz, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez, Congressmember Yvette Clarke, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Joan Millman, were among those scheduled to attend.



Tel Aviv's Pink House is gearing up for Summer Bookings

With all the hype surrounding Tel Aviv Gay Tourism this summer, Tel Aviv's Pink House is expecting a bumper summer... Hopefully the pink pound will outrun the economic downturn.

Map

Gay Coupled Married outside DC Ben and Jerry's


From DCist.

First Hello Cupcake, and now Ben & Jerry's joins the list of dessert purveyors helping D.C. gay couples celebrate their newly granted marriage freedoms.

Keith Spangler and Andreas Vellios plan to exchange vows inside the
Georgetown Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shop on Thursday. Rev. Lance Orndorff will officiate the ceremony, but the couple will also be celebrating with the actual Jerry -- Jerry Greenfield, the co-founder of Ben & Jerry's -- who plans to be in attendance to offer a toast and say a few words about his company's history of promoting social justice.

After the wedding ceremony, Spangler and Vellios will welcome family and friends to share in their happiness, and enjoy, what else, some ice cream cake. We assume it'll be made with the
Hubby Hubby flavor.

Local marriage equality champion D.C. Council member David Catania and Freedom to Marry director Michael Crawford, who have both been attending a veritable marathon of same-sex unions this week, will also be on hand for a few congratulatory remarks.


Gay Jews in Poland, Who Knew?

From the Heeb.

Warsaw’s mostly ambivalent Jewish community unintentionally joined the progressive map when Rabbi Aaron Katz, a gay man with a Hollywood producer partner, became their new spiritual advisor.

Since it’s hard to say who
Poles hate more, gays or Jews, we figure he’ll have to dodge eggs on his walk home from Temple. (And yes, take it from me personally, that really does happen.)

Curious how, if at all, the gay element will affect Katz’s congregation. Perhaps congregants will stop hating on gays and start picking up much needed style tips. Then, all the city folk will look at the gay Jews with awe and glee. Tonight’s big show at
Warsaw’s National Opera will be a good start.



Asher Roth is straight...

From the Heeb.

Asher Roth Loves Football, Probably Not Gay

Jewish rapper Asher Roth, whose hit single "I Love College," declares his love of women, had gay rumors flying this weekend. Roth defended himself with a tweet on Sunday, stating he was "about to watch football." When that didn’t stop the homoerotic gossip, the rapper addressed the media with this surprisingly eloquent statement:

I hate to disappoint and take away the entertainment of it all but I am straight, not gay. It’s disheartening to know such “news” on someone’s personal life can be portrayed as fact with no viable source. This, to me, is an opportunity to expose our vulnerability to lies and manipulation through unprofessional and irresponsible news outlets, in which people consider TRUTH. Further, someone’s sexual orientation should NEVER be big news, as it delivers a troubling message to children that they can’t be themselves without fear of judgment. Race, creed, and sexual persuasion should not just be tolerated but understood and accepted. It’s extremely disappointing that this topic would be used with the intention of being hurtful. We are near 2010….2010!! Yet race, sex and religion still play a major role in a hate driven society. For the love of the future and humanity….let’s wake up.


What an insightful, sensitive and evolved point of view. [Editorial note: that is so gay.] So yes, let’s move on, people. Surely there has to be more important things to think about than a Jewish rapper’s sexuality, like this.

20th World Conference of GLBT Jews - Los Angeles 2010





Israel ready for gay PM?

According to a Yediot Aharonot poll 25% of respondents were certain they were "ready" for a gay PM and another 19% thought they might be.


Maybe one day we will see it... only this time Iceland beat us to it.



PM Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir

Two years on and The Open House is still in trouble

This week, after months of not being paid, the workers of the Jerusalem Open House will find out if they will even be able to keep their jobs. The centre has been in financial trouble since the US economic meltodown put a strain on Jewish philanthropy.


Things took an even worse swing when the New Israel Fund, one of the Open House's largest donors started to feel a pinch in its own income due to a report that accussed it of funding the biased Goldstone report.

Israel chooses 'Milim' as the 2010 Eurovision song

The gay runner up from 'A Star is Born 2004' Harel Skaat is to represent Israel with the song Milim. The singer is of Yeminite descent, which bodes well as all previous Israeli winners were also Yemenite.

Good luck Harel.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pride 2010

Every June for the last 11 years, the gay community in Israel celebrates gay pride in the streets of Tel Aviv. The city of Tel Aviv is bedecked in the rainbow colors for a week with the pride flag weaving from the flagpole all over the city.

This year the 11th of June will be the highlight Tel Aviv's pride month, with the biggest parade ever.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

More on Michael Lucas

Interview from the Advocate.

He’s taken many a gay man to heaven with the adult films he’s produced, including La Dolce Vita, Fire Island Cruising, and Men of Israel, but now Michael Lucas is entering the travel business -- and wants to take you to Israel. He’s scheduled a 12-day tour of the Promised Land, including stops in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Eilat. So we asked Steven Burns, whose QueerClick.com covers the comings and goings of Lucas’s day job, to get the scoop on the producer’s travel-related career turn.

Michael, I’ve got to ask the obvious: Why the shift into the tourism business?
It’s not so much a shift as it is something extra I’d like to do. This idea really came to me from so many people e-mailing me that they’d love to go Israel but didn’t know how to go about it. And since my first business in Russia was running a successful tourist agency, I do know what makes a great tour. So while I am organizing the trip here, I am also working with Israel’s biggest tourist [company].

Will you be offering trips to some of the other places featured in your films? Say a tour of Fire Island?
You don’t need me to show you Fire Island. You’ll find your way very quickly on your own there. But while Israel is one of the best places for a gay holiday vacation, it’s not yet a typical tourist spot for gay men. It offers an amazing combination of history, gorgeous architecture, restaurants [with cuisine] from all over the world, beautiful beaches, a wild nightlife, natural resorts, shopping. There are so many things to do and see -- all in one trip. I’m doing this because I enjoy introducing people to the country that I truly love.

Do people assume this is a porn- or sex-based trip?
It absolutely isn’t that type of trip. Once again, you don’t need me to find sex in Israel if that’s what you’re interested in. There are many gay clubs, two gay beaches, and Israeli guys are generally very friendly and curious. But no, this trip is about Israel, not about having sex.

So is the trip open only to men?
Everyone is welcome. The tour is aimed at people who are interested in exploring all of Israel. Gender, age, or body type don’t matter. People seem to be confused about this. I want to travel with a diverse crowd, and this trip is absolutely for anyone who wants to see Israel from a unique insider’s perspective.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

BRICUP writes to Sir Elton

British Committee for Universities of Palestine send open letter to singer asking that he cancel summer concert in Israel, refer him to Goldstone Report.

Here is their open letter and a link to their website;

http://www.bricup.org.uk/documents/cultural/EltonJohn.pdf

Elton John Comes to Israel

Sir Elton John announced on Tuesday that he will be arriving in Israel for a single performance on June 17. This marks the British singer's second concert in Israel, the first of which took place 27 years ago in Hayarkon Park in Tel Aviv.



Thursday, February 18, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Foreign Policy


Gay Israelis have been serving openly in the military for seventeen years, and their country is safer for it.






Viewed from Israel, the continuing witch hunt against gays and lesbians in the U.S. military makes little sense. I have studied and written about the experience of gay soldiers in elite combat units of the Israel Defense Forces, where restrictions on gay enlistment were lifted in 1993, the same year the United States introduced the "don't ask, don't tell" policy requiring gay and lesbian servicemembers to say in the closet or risk being discharged. There has never been any suggestion that the participation of these men has hindered the performance of Israeli combat units.

The United States and Turkey are now the only NATO military powers that do not allow gays to serve openly, but Israel and other countries have shown that the participation of gay soldiers in combat units presents no risk for military effectiveness. What's more, acknowledging their presence might even improve unite cohesion.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Summer of Gay Tourism

The New York Post

Michael Lucas -- the gay porn producer who made the X-rated "Men of Israel" in the Holy Land last year -- is leading a gay tour to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea. Lucas, a Russian-born Zionist, promises a visit in May to a secret nude beach.



Michael Lucas



"I am thrilled to announce that I am making my first group trip to Israel this Spring, and I want you to come with me on this exciting, fun, and action-packed journey!

It is no secret that Israel is one of my favorite places in the entire world, and I travel there at least twice every year to visit my favorite parties, restaurants, historical monuments, beaches, resorts, and most importantly, all of the close friends and wonderful people I have met throughout the course of my travels. What I love about Israel is that it is extremely modern while maintaining such an amazing and diverse sense of history: You can be in urban Tel Aviv, one of the most amazing cities on earth, surrounded by skyscrapers, and then drive 40 minutes to ancient Jerusalem and see craftsmanship and architecture that is over 2,000 years old. It is incredible!"

Transracial

PORN KING VS. CLUB KING: Michael Lucas vs. Josh Wood Over Homo-Holy Land Holiday Supremacy

Josh Woods Productions and Steele Travel

'Milk and Honey 2010"


Steele Luxury Travel and Josh Wood Productions invite you to experience a destination of rich history, beautiful landscape, gorgeous men and extreme nightlife. The leading nightlife and entertainment producer and the leading force in gay luxury travel are uniting to program 2010's most innovative vacation. "Milk & Honey 2010" is a one of a kind experience offering you the history and adventure to one of the globe's most stimulating destinations.

Michael Lucas and Islamic Europe

From Michael's Blog;

Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets, barring construction of the mosque towers in a strong vote that put Switzerland at the forefront of a European backlash against a growing Muslim population.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Michael Lucas and Gay Hasbara

Michael Lucas makes aliyah and plans to start a whole new way of convincing the left to love Israel.

From Haaretz
The bearded receptionist wears a yarmulke.

In any other office, this wouldn't seem remarkable. But this is the midtown Manhattan headquarters of Lucas Entertainment, one of the largest gay adult film companies in the world. The yarmulke seems weirdly apt once you meet Michael Lucas, the 37-year-old founder and CEO of the 11-year-old porn conglomerate, which in August released what it claims is the first gay adult film made in Israel with an all-Israeli cast.

Portugal Says Yes to Gay Marriage...but what about Israel?

Facts about Israel and its Gay community.

1. "Israel is the only Middle-Eastern country to support gay rights legislation, and the country attracts gay people from Palestine and Lebanon." The Independent 2008

2. Israel has one of the highest percentages of support for same-sex marriage in the world, with 61% of Israelis supporting civil marriage for same-sex couples. Angus Reid Polls 2009

3. Israel has the highest percentage approval of gays serving in the Armed Forces (70%) and has never had discriminatory legislation against such service. Angus Reid Polls 2009

4. Tel Aviv is the gay capital of the Middle East. OutMagazine

5. Israel recognizes Common-Law marriages, same-sex marriages performed abroad and gay adoption.

6. Jerusalem is the only capital in the Middle East that allows an annual Pride Parade.

Shabbat Shira! At CBST New York

Founded in 1973 by forward thinking gay Jews, Congregation Bet Simchat Torah is a powerful voice within Judaism. It is currently led by Senior Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and is the largest LGBT synagogue in the world. This week is hosts Shabbat Shira!, its 15th annual concert.

Created and produced by CBST musical director Joyce Rosenzweig and CBST Member Adria Benjamin, this year the concert will include Jesse Blumberg, baritone, Donna Breitzer, mezzo-soprano, Deborah Selig, soprano, Marc Molomot, tenor, and Joyce Rosenzweig, pianist.

Israel recruits gay community in PR campaign against Iran

From Haaretz News

Israel is stepping up its public relations effort to discredit Iran within the international community, and part of its new campaign focuses on Tehran's abuse of human rights and sponsorship of terrorism. "We have to lay the foundation in the world, and particularly in Europe, in order to be able to take harsher steps against Iran, especially in the economic sector," said one senior political source in Jerusalem.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gay-Jewish Birthright. The 'Rainbow' Trip

Birthright is a Jewish Israeli registered charity, partly funded by the Israeli government, that sponsors free 10-day trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. Birthright's goals are to diminish the division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; to strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry; and to strengthen participants' personal Jewish identity and connection to the Jewish people.

It now runs a special program for LGBT youth.

Gay Palestinian can stay in Israel

In an unusual ruling, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the state late last week to evaluate the degree to which the life of a young Palestinian is at risk, in part because of his sexual orientation. The Palestinian is asking for permission to remain in Israel because he fears for his life if he is expelled to the Palestinian Authority.