Thursday, October 5

How do you say 'Coming out of the closet' in Arabic?

Brian Whitaker at the UK’s Guardian, has a lenghty article about the experiences of an Israeli Arab lesbian (who prefers considering herself Palestinian) who went public in 2003, after giving an interview to Yediot Ahronot:

“All of a sudden, the Arab population of her home town [in northern Israel], which she generally assumed to have no interest in the literary supplements of Hebrew newspapers, seemed to have read the article and had something to say about her. Local corner shop owners made photocopies and distributed it, because, after all, everyone knew it was about the daughter of so-and-so from their own town.

“The consequences of that article were far more serious than Ms Morcos had imagined: her car windows were smashed and tyres were punctured several times, she received innumerable threatening letters and phone calls, and, to top it all, ‘coincidentally’ lost her job as a school teacher, since parents of pupils complained that they did not want her as a teacher.”

Since this is the Guardian, Israel must, of course, come in for a body slam, but Whitaker does first point out Israel’s (relative) openess to homosexuality:

Israel legalised same-sex relations between men in 1988. Four years later, it went a step further and became the only country in the Middle East that outlaws discrimination based on sexuality. A series of court cases then put the theory into practice - for example, when El Al was forced to provide a free ticket for the partner of a gay flight attendant, as the airline already did for the partners of its straight employees.

These are undisputed achievements but they have also become a propaganda tool, reinforcing Israel’s claim to be the only liberal, democratic society in the Middle East. At the same time, highlighting Israel’s association with gay rights has made life more difficult for gay Arabs, adding grist to the popular notion that homosexuality is a “disease” spread by foreigners.

Interesting reading.

(Cross-posted at Israelity)

Sderot: Palestinians aiding Israel caught between a Kassam and a hard place (Video, Podcast)

The government is relocating hundreds of Palestinians who have aided Israel in - wait for it - Sderot, the bullseye of thousands of Kassam rockets from nearby Gaza.

According to Ynew News,

The falling property values allowed many families of Palestinian cooperating with the Israeli government and defense forces to buy homes, even mansions, in the more targeted areas of the city.

In the past six months, some ten Palestinian families arrived in Sderot, joining the 250-300 Palestinians already living there. Attorney Nathan Shreiber, who represents the Palestinians in the region, told Ynet that lowered housing costs are not the only incentive for the families to move to Sderot.

"As the situation in Gaza escalates, so the flow of people will increase," he says.

Eli Moyal, the town's beleagured mayor must feel sandbagged about this development. Here's what he told Americans when I spoke with him (audio podcast) about coping with Kassams. And here is the video of his comments at a press conference.

Sderot resident and youth counselor, Avital Morer, 19.
Click here if video does not appear.
(Video: Dave Bender)

Morer told me her feelings about the situation (audio podcast) in an interview at the height of the bombardment.

(Cross-posted at Israelity)

JerusalemOnline news update: 00:00, Oct. 5th (Video - Channel 2 TV)


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