It's About Hating Israel, Not Loving Human Rights

Encounters with the people targeting Beth Israel Congregation families at Sabbath Services


The New Republic, August 19 & 26, 2002, published a two-page article, (Yossi Klein Halevi, “Refugee Status”) that reported that gay Palestinian men in the West Bank and Gaza are routinely tortured—brutally-- by Palestinian Authority police, and defamed and threatened with murder by their own families. Some excerpts: “Tayseer, as we’ll call him, a 21 year old Gazan…learned early on that to be gay in Palestine is to be a criminal…. His dream is to live in Tel Aviv…. Because the world hasn’t forced the P.A. to tolerate gays, Palestinian homosexuals are increasingly seeking refuge in the only regional territory that does: Israel. In the last few years hundreds of gay Palestinians, mostly from the West Bank, have slipped into Israel. Most live illegally in Tel Aviv, the center of Israel’s gay community; many are desperately poor and work as prostitutes. But at least they’re beyond the reach of their families and the P.A.”


In the early fall of 2003, on my way into shul, I distributed the New Republic article to each of the picketers, asking them if they were concerned about human rights. Naively, I imagined that those self-avowed human rights activists whose signs proclaimed the immorality of Israel’s occupation might be discomfited by a contradiction: They themselves were supporting a brutal society. And they were condemning the single society that provided refuge to its victims. In their haste to bash Israel, the picketers are willing to blink at the plight of the most vulnerable of those whose rights they presume to champion. Their picketing, it appears, is not about Tayseer, not about human rights; it’s about hating Israel


The writer is a retired college professor.