This is my own translation of an article in Ma’ariv (original here) written by some guy who’s pretty decent, but doesn’t quite understand the concept of liberty all that well. To him, it’s a government guy saying he’ll fight for someone’s right to marry someone of the same sex, as if it matters who the government says you can marry at all, as if marriage were some sort of government institution. Marriage is whatever private people want it to be.
Moshe Feiglin himself does not fully grasp what liberty is, though he’s pretty close. According to him, the “status of the classical heterosexual family” has to be “protected,” as if saying that if the government does not actively “protect the classical family,” all of society will disintegrate into dysfunctional and total homosexuality.
What Feiglin doesn’t like, and I agree with him, is the government stealing money from one group and giving it to gay people. But the author of this article sounds like he’d like his own government goon to spend someone else’s money to promote same sex marriage with government funded advertising campaigns or something. I just want people to do whatever the heck they want to do without stealing money from anybody through government programs.
If the government subsidizes a gay couple (like gives them a tax break for being married according to the government), the people who don’t like gay couples get angry. If the government subsidizes a straight couple, the gay people who also want the subsidy get angry for not having “the right to be married”. It’s got nothing to do with a right to be married. It has to do with the right not to be stolen from. If straight people can get stolen from less (get a tax break) for being married, why can’t gay people? It’s always about money. Not marriage or love or tolerance. Let’s not forget that.
All Feiglin really should say is that the gay community should do whatever it wants, raise its own money, and stop trying to legislate laws which cost money and force unwilling people to pay for something they don’t believe in. And that as an MK, he will make sure neither straights nor gays are being stolen from by government unequally.
Gay Jews, I call a truce! How about this: We the straight people promise to not get government to fund straight causes. You the gay people promise to not get government to fund gay causes. Then we can all go out for a drink at a mixed gay/straight bar. I’ll have the vanilla vodka with sprinkles and a cherry. You’ll have the whisky. Then we’ll go home and both do our familial thing, whatever that is.
This article was a Kiddush Hashem. Whoever doesn’t see that and is wrapped up in the “homosexual abomination” thing, really does not have his eye on the ball of how healing this is. Moshe, thank you for doing this. Keep it up.
Feiglin and the Gay Community; a Reconciliation
The historic visit of the religious right wing MK at a gay hangout in Tel Aviv at first looked like a recipe for disaster • But then came the moment when he told how the story of how the son of a good friend came out of the closet and had a conversation with him that “influenced [him] more than any discussion on the topic ever could.”
Rabbi Ron Yosef is the only openly gay Orthodox Rabbi in Israel. “First of all, the fact that there is dialogue between the gay community and religious public figures – that’s a statement,” he tells me when I ask him about the significance of what is going to happen here tonight. “Once people see someone like Feiglin of Likud, considered a right winger, and as a religious person even known as a little extreme in some ways – it says to people: Wait a minute, something’s happening here. The very fact that this discourse will lead to questions for both sides as well as the public is great news.”
Afterwards I ask him why he thought Feiglin – who has in the past came out against gay pride parades, and even penned an article entitled “I am a proud homophobe” – suddenly decided to come here, to the Association for the Gay Community on Nahmani Street in Tel Aviv. Rabbi Ron Yosef replied to me that in his opinion, he realizes that there is a community in the country that has a right to have its voice heard and that as a public servant, he can no longer ignore it.” But just then, we heard a shout of “Please clear the way!” and the new (and a bit too tall, one might add) MK Moshe Feiglin entered the room followed by hordes of photographers trampling everything in their path, including Orthodox rabbis, homosexuals and journalists like me.
But it doesn’t matter, because the answer to my question I got an hour and fifteen minutes later, at the most intriguing moment of the evening in my opinion. One man threw bitter accusations at Feiglin that people like him, public figures, who speak against homosexuality in public, sow public homophobia that leads to murder. That moment was the first time that evening I saw Feiglin’s face change, and for a moment, this man – who throughout the evening had kept a cool that in my opinion very few are able to keep – looked as if something in him cracked, maybe even softened.
“In a way I have changed,” he said in the broken tone of an average man rather than that of a member of Knesset, and went on to tell how recently the son of one of his best friends came out of the closet in a conversation that “affected him more than any other discussion on the topic.”
I believed him. It was too human a moment not to believe him. Up until that point he had thrown all sorts of phrases in the air that had surprised me: “Within the framework of my own Jewish faith, a belief that integrates identity, inner meaning, and liberty, the freedom of all people is almost, I would say, the foundation… and so, in the most basic natural sense of my own understanding of Judaism, I fight for the freedom of every person and first and foremost the freedom of my people, which is also your freedom. I fight for you as much as anyone else. ” At one point he even stopped one of the speakers and told him that he came here to find where the two sides can identify rather than fight.
It was not easy. I must say the room felt like it was loaded with a sort of anger and there were several people in the audience from the gay community who I felt did not really come to listen, but to saturate Feiglin with the anger and frustration that had built up within them for years. But Feiglin was not really affected by it.
It seemed as if he knew that this was part of the game and that he honestly came here to be part of a genuine dialogue. The whole evening he sat with legs crossed and played with his fingers and just listened, commented at the appropriate times, and even laid out his philosophy concerning the classical nuclear family – a philosophy that he knew would not be welcomed very openly in the place he was sitting. “The classical family is the building block of society. If it falls apart – we would have no society,” he declared. And no one applauded.
Bridging the gap
I do not think that Moshe Feiglin will ever really be the spokesman for the gay community in Israel, and I do not believe we will ever hear him voicing support for a family that includes two fathers or two mothers, and despite his declarations, there is still a long way between him and the title of Freedom Fighter. But one must compliment him for the effort and courage to come here today and start the discussion. I think this is what “openness” is.
Towards the end of the evening Feiglin said: “The importance of the conversation is the very fact that it is taking place and dialogue is starting.” I wrote myself a note in my notepad: In the GLBT youth lounge at 9:20pm in Tel Aviv, I realized that the gap is still wide, but the sides are getting closer. Judging by the satisfied smile of Rabbi Ron Yosef on my right, it seems he understood that as well.