November 23, 2006 (the date of publication in Russian)

Polina Zhuravel


Jerusalem under the rule of a new paganism

The status of Jerusalem – a city sacred to the three great monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam – has obviously become a burden for the secular Israeli government. The events surrounding the recent Gay Pride parade serve as yet another example of this. Last year a full-fledged manifestation of people celebrating their homosexual orientation was replaced by a subdued meeting. However, after three participants were attacked by an orthodox Jew, an activist organization of sexual minorities The Jerusalem Open House decided to stand their ground.

As a result, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior for the fifth time in a row sanctioned and fully supported the International Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. Simply recalling the name of Israel’s current leader, Ehud Olmert, is enough to understand that no other step could have been taken. As mayor of Jerusalem he allowed the first such parade to take place in 2002; his daughter is an enthusiastic supporter of sexual minorities.

And so on November 10th about 3000 (4000 according to BBC) gay men and lesbians gathered at the Hebrew University stadium. The security force mobilized for their protection included 7000 policemen. The march was supported by the "progressive" members of the Jerusalem City Council, who consider sexual minorities to be the embodiment of pluralism and tolerance in modern society.

It is this tolerance they want to instill on Orthodox Jews, Muslims and Christians, who are, in their opinion, less advanced in humanity. This completely ignores the fact that according to a survey conducted by Maagar Mochot Interdisciplinary Consulting Research Institute 63% of secular Jews, 83% of the Modern Orthodox, 99% of Religious Zionists and 100% of the Ultra Orthodox, as well as 92% of Arab respondents (Muslim and Christian together) opposed the parade.

Notwithstanding the statistics, the "supporters of civil rights" insist on including non-traditional sexual orientation in the concept of the Israeli national identity. To follow their logic, gays and lesbians are today’s "Other" people, analogous to the Medieval perception of Jews as outcasts in society. Thus, they have to be thought of as fellow sufferers in need of support and understanding.

This twisted rhetoric isn’t as absurd as it may seem at first glance. The Liberal, Reformist and Reconstructionalist wings of modern Judaism share this point of view, which is why they saw no objections to the Gay Pride parade.

They say that the harsh statements about homosexual practices in the Book of Leviticus should be separated from traditional Judaism and regarded as an obscure and obsolete "deception". In the end, they argue, Israel is a national and not a religious state, and Judaism is but one way of Jewish self-identity.

There are several alternatives to the religious worldview in Israel today. The doctrine of Canaanism, for example, suggests that the heathen cults of the Phoenicians, long ago fought against by Moses, Jesus Navin, King David and Joshua, should be viewed as an integral part of the Israeli cultural heritage. And there is considerable evidence in the Bible that sexual "pluralism" was at the core of the Canaanites’ pagan practices.

This theory is supported by modern archaeological data as well. The study of pagan "pre-Old Testament" Palestine shows that sexual tolerance flourished in Canaan. Archaeologists from France, Israel and other countries who read the inscriptions in pagan temples left by the Phoenicians (the Greek name for Canaanites) unanimously confirm the fact that ritual (and even everyday!) sodomy was practiced in this society.

Today the pagan gods of Canaan return to Jerusalem masked as "tolerant" and "humane". It’s obvious, however, that such a comeback threatens to completely cut off Israel from its religious past.

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