While my friend Jamie Kirchick may have won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Journalist of the Year Award in 2007, he has not yet gained the fame of his contemporary Ezra Klein. (Klein was born in 1984, Kirchick in ’83) Perhaps it has something to do with sexuality (Ezra is straight, Jamie is gay) or maybe it’s politics (Ezra is a leftie loyalist, Jamie leans right, but, unlike his contemporary, does not toe the party line).
And this notion of the younger man’s celebrity came to mind this morning as I was continuing the process of cleaning out my e-mail boxes. I read a Wall Street Journal piece Jamie had sent his friends earlier this month on the decision of a Spanish gay organization to exclude a float from the municipality of Tel Aviv in Madrid’s gay pride parade:
By joining the international campaign to delegitimize Israel, Spain’s leading gay organization undermined its purported mission: the furtherance of gay rights. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country that even has gay pride parades, never mind respects the dignity of homosexuals. Saudi Arabia beheads gays. Syria arrests them in sting operations. Iran hangs them from cranes in public squares. (Speaking at Columbia University in 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that there are no homosexuals in his country, an absurd assertion nonetheless portentous for its murderous aspirations). As for Gaza, one of Hamas’s leaders has referred to gays as “a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”
Like so many other democratic values, when it comes to gay rights Israel is an oasis in a sea of state-sanctioned repression, a “little patch,” to use Mr. Poveda’s words, that he and his comrades ought to defend. Gays serve openly in the Israeli military. While gay marriages can’t be legally performed in Israel, the government grants gay couples many of the same rights as heterosexual ones and recognizes same-sex unions performed abroad. Many Palestinian gays seek asylum in Israel. And like most aspects of Israeli life, the gay scene is disputatious. This year there was not one gay pride parade but three, including one that rejected the implicitly Zionist message of the municipally-sponsored parade. As one Israeli friend joked to me, “Two gay Jews, three parades.”
The decision by Spain’s leading gay group is part of an international trend that has seen far left elements hijack what ought to be a non-partisan movement to promote individual liberty.
Now, take a look at that last quoted line again. Note what Jamie thinks the movement “out to be about.” Yup, that’s right, he used that wonderful word describing a great idea: liberty. Problem is is that most gay leaders are focused on another word: “equality.” Perhaps, if the heads of the various gay organizations were committed to liberty, they might better understand what rights are and where they’re being abused.
That a gay organization can’t get that gays in Israel enjoy freedoms deprived them in Islamic lands shows just how much such groups see themselves as part of a worldwide left-wing movement, so much so that they lose sight of the people for whom they are supposed to be fighting.