Thursday, July 06, 2006

Embracing Yehuda Levin

An American rabbi, Yehuda Levin (of the radical Meshugina sect) has promised violence if World Pride goes ahead in Jerusalem.

"I promise there's going to be bloodshed -- not just on that day, but for months afterward. In America, we are outraged and disgusted over this event. There are millions of people who, with their bodies, souls and money, will stand against this..." said the rabbi.

Despite my disagreement with Rabbi Levin's sentiments, I feel that we should not unequivocally condemn him for the following reasons.

(1) I must maintain dialogue with representatives of the World's Great Religions (TM).

(2) As a rabbi, he is a respected authority on theological issues.

(3) Jews are a persecuted minority and as such, condemnation of Rabbi Levin will only contribute to a rising tide of antisemitism.

(4) There are many references to bloodletting in the Torah, so we cannot know that the rabbi is speaking literally.

(5) The source for the story is a "gay" website, so it is naturally biased.

(6) Rabbinical scholars disagree on the precise course of action. Some believe simply that "we must do everything to banish this disgrace from the Holy city.” There is thus a wide range of opinion.

(7) Rabbi Levin was quoted selectively: note the use of ellipses in the extract above.

(8) Many leaders of all the World's Great Religions (TM) hold similar views. (cf. Fred Phelps and Yussuf Qaradawi).

(9) Rabbi Levin is constrained by the tenets of his religion and thus cannot be seen to contradict orthodox theology. We do not know what his private views are.

(10) I'm completely off my rocker.


At 11:28 pm, Anonymous richard farnos said...

Pray tell us, dear Brett, of what your position is with regard to Israel actions in the Gaza, and whether you are prepared to give support to the current regime by attending “world pride”?

At 11:43 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Hey Richard, didn't I see you at London Pride? Why do you support Blair's war in Iraq by attending Pride in London?

At 10:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We promise river of blood in world pride

At 10:34 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Anonymous: Who is "we"?

At 12:21 pm, Blogger Brian Miller said...

Beautifully expressed, and oh so true. It's funny how the theocracy-defenders on the fringes of the left and right alike get so enraged when their own arguments are applied to a theology that they don't like. :)

At 7:33 pm, Anonymous richard farnos said...

Oh Brett I didn't see at London Pride either, not that I was particularly looking. However I did notice that Outrage didn't seem to have a stall...

But back to issue.

So I assume that from your remarks your going to take a banner condemning Israel's actions?

Moreover Unlike London, which to my knowledge has never been a part of Iraq, Jerusalem is illegaly occupied (according to international law). So to attend a demostration "allowed" by the Israeli government in a area that it has no legal jurisdiction, is by definition to support the occupation!

All the best

PS When are you going to outline your reasons for signing the Euston Manifesto?

At 8:03 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Since the last Stop The War Coalition march started in Parliament Square, it required official permission. By your twisted logic, accepting that permission is support for the British government's policies.

World Pride has nothing at all to do with supporting Israel's policies. It has everything to do with demonstrating solidarity with LGBT people in the region, which includes Palestinian LGBTs, who, incidentally, are co-organisers of the event.

I don't boycott liberation movements.

At 11:01 am, Anonymous richard farnos said...

"I don't boycott liberation movements" - really? Well, may I suggest that buy a really, really, big whistle and blow it very, very hard when your on the parade. Prohaps you'll be able to drown out the sound of Israeli Army and Air Force bombing the shit out of the Gaza, only 30 away. Then turn a blind eye to the dirty great big Berlin-style wall or the HIV+ Palestinians prevented to going to a Jerusalem Hospital, or a Palestinian couple prevented by the Israeli Government from living together because one was born on in Jerusalem and the other Bethlehem. Then, just then, you many be able to pretend that your not giving succur to the Israeli regime.

"Love without Borders" is a fine sentiment. But for it to be meaningful, in this context, requires struggle for LGBT rights in conjunction with that of the Palestinians. Indeed I am surprise that someone who was involved in the LGBT movement in South Africa under Apartheid, does not reconise this dilemma or the need to twin the struggles. A strategy successfully pursued winning constitutional protection for LGB(T?) people in majority rule South Africa.

All the best

At 11:34 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Point of information: I wasn't involved in the LGBT movement in South Africa under Apartheid. I was involved in anti-Apartheid activism first, and only moved into LGBT activism a few years later.

But that's not really relevant.

The point is, Richard, unlike the ANC, those driving Palestinian liberation are not receptive to gay issues, so there is no opportunity to "twin" the struggles.

Indeed, the ANC were never complicit in the active persecution of LGBT people either.

Until, the PA, Hamas and the PLO stop their involvement in the oppression of LGBT people, there will be no opportunity to "twin" any struggles and the fight for LGBT rights will remain separate.

And let's face it, Israel pulled out of Gaza, but within days, Hamas started using it as a base from which to launch rocket attacks and kidnapping raids. The Israeli response may be disproportionate, but it was provoked by Hamas.

At 9:40 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We will kill all isreali gay jew and all visiting gay. Keep out.

At 9:45 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

"We will kill all isreali gay jew and all visiting gay. Keep out."

*sigh* another anonymous "we". WHo is "we"?

Courage to make threats to kill, but not to identify yourself, you fucking savage.

At 10:00 am, Anonymous richard farnos said...

Thank you, Brett, for your clarification of your involvement in the Anti-Apartheid and South African LGBT movements. Like you say, this does not alter very much; however, it may explain your oversight of the facts that ANC used to be quite homophobic; taking the Pan-African Congress position of seeing homosexuality is colonial import.

Moreover while it is true that the ANC never officially sanctioned homophobic attacks, it turned a blind eye, and some of its members participated in tyre-burning of suspected queers. The point is changing the ANC position was no easy task, and I would suggest that the solidarity of the majority of LGBT movement is South Africa, as well as internationally was important if not decisive contribution.

I grant you changing Hamas’ and PLO’s position with regard to LGBT rights is a tall order. However unless you believe in magic or seek to invade the whole of the West Bank, and Gaza, then the policy of the PA is going to be determined by these organisations. Solidarity by LGBT movement internationally with the Palestinians will help to constructively challenge opinions and assumptions. At the very least it will undermine the idea that homosexuals are collaborators with the Israelis (a notion believed to be behind many of the attacks on queer palestinians).

Furthermore, it isn’t just a tactical question. As I pointed out in my last contribution, if laudable slogan “Love without borders” is to be meaningful in the Holy Land than both LGBT and Palestinian liberation must be achieved! If you have alternative strategy please share it with us.

I am a bit perplexed and unclear of what you trying to say in your last paragraph. For while you call it “disproportionate” you seem to justify Israel’s targeting of civilians and civil targets, and attempt to alter a foreign nations policy through the use of fear. Brett do you really support the concept of “collective justice”? And don’t you think that Israel’s actions in the Gaza and now Lebanon are dangerously close to state terrorism? Please clarify.

At 10:29 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

"Moreover while it is true that the ANC never officially sanctioned homophobic attacks, it turned a blind eye, and some of its members participated in tyre-burning of suspected queers.

I'm not continuing with this discussion until you correct this outrageous lie. Please cite references for this allegation - if you can. Moreover, I challenge you to repeat this allegation to both the ANC and to South African gay activists.

At 9:18 am, Anonymous Richard Farnos said...

Err Brett what do think that Winnie Mandela and her football team was all about?

Past homophobic policies of the ANC are a matter of historical record. For example Peter Tatchell recalls:

"Over those long years, I kept hearing disconcerting stories about homophobic attitudes within the African National Congress – the main liberation movement and the likely governing party of a post-apartheid South Africa. At the left-wing World Youth Festival in East Berlin in 1973, which I attended as a Gay Liberation Front delegate, there were reports of the victimisation of lesbian and gay ANC members, and warnings that queers would have a tough time when the ANC came to power.

"Homophobia existed at high levels in the ANC, even though there was a long history of gay people being involved in the struggle against apartheid. The gay theatre director, Cecil Williams, was one such person. He played a key role in aiding Nelson Mandela when he was on the run from the police in the early 1960s. To enable Mandela to carry on his underground activism and avoid detection, Williams had Mandela disguise himself as his chauffeur.

"Despite the contributions of courageous lesbian and gay people such as Cecil Williams, the ANC still pursued an avowedly anti-gay policy."

In my experience members of ANC I have met, readily, if with somewhat a sad heart, acknowledge pasts errors and evils as a consequence of ANC actions or inaction. Brett, your the only person I know with first hand experience who seeks to denie this past.

Internationally the ANC is rightly held in a lot respect. A liberation movement that avaded the classic problem of turning into a tyrrany once in power. In terms of the globe LGBT struggle the importance of the ANC story IS its dramatic change in policy and practise. It makes it a path that other struggles can follow, rather than an perfect ideal that never can be obtained.

Now Brett, will you please address the questions I posed.

At 9:34 am, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Richard, talk about getting the short end of the stick.

The Winnie Mandella 'Football' incident did not involve "necklacing" and it was a single incident with a single victem, Stompie Sepei, in which a 'gay' angle was speculated. Winnie Mandela's bodyguard was later convicted of the murder. IT had nothing to do with either the ANC or with an antigay programme. This is a far cry from the slanderous lie you told yesterday about the ANC turning a blind eye to the necklacing of suspected queers!

I'm not sure what your point about quoting fom Tatchell is. I've already agreed with you that contructive solidarity with the ANC returned results. But without the goodwill of major players like Nelson Mandela himself, and Archbishop Tutu and others, plus the fact that there was no ideological opposition to gays (or, more crucially, religious) meant that such engagement was likely to succeed.

What you fail to understand is that Tatchell and others gave the ANC bad press over the issue in order to bring them to the table. It wasn't a case of the 'unconditional solidarity now and we'll hope it all sorts out later' notion that you're pushing. The ANC were challenged over their homophobia early on and *that* strategy paid off. That, and the fact that, contrary to your lie, the ANC never had - official or unofficial - a policy of killing gays.

It is a similar strategy that OutRage! had been promoting vis a vis the PLO, except hysterical nitwits like you squeaked at every critcism of their homophobia and subsequently no pressure was put on them to address the issue.

At 3:30 pm, Anonymous richard farnos said...

Brett, your apology for Winnie Mandela and her murderous homophobic football team certainly were not shared by the black led Gay and Lesbian Organisation of Witwatersrand (GLOW), who according to Vusi Msiza “condemned the homophobic defence used in the trial of Winnie Mandela.”

Moreover the fact that Winnie was a leading member of the ANC at the time and that other ANC members must have know what was going on means that sadly, my initial observations was correct – the ANC leadership did turn a blind eye to homophobic attacks.

Indeed your potted history of the transformation of ANC does seem far off the mark.

Firstly, the idea that “The ANC was challenged over their homophobia early” is simply not true. ANC’s was not challenged on this is until the eighties, yet the ANC was form in 1912!

Secondly the notion that there was “no ideological opposition to gays (or, more crucially, religious) [opposition in the ANC]” is a view that was not share by the late great anti-Apartheid and gay rights activist Simon Nkoli. An Anonymous writer observes “Life is particularly hard for gays who are black, said Nkoli, because of Powerful cultural and social taboos against homosexuality in their communities. Winnie Mandela and other prominent black leaders have publicly said that homosexuality is not part of ‘African’ culture.”

Thirdly, while I have no desire to belittle Tatchell’s contribution, I think that it is major exaggeration to suggest that his efforts solely or even largely brought the ANC to the negotiation table. I would humbly suggest that the prime mover were activists in South Africa that crystallised around Simon Nkoli decision to come out.

“In 1984 Simon Tseko Nkoli joined fellow comrades in the Delmas Treason trial. His co-accused included UDF and ANC leader Terror Lekota, Popo Molefe, Tom Manthata, Gcina Malindi and Moses Chikane. These comrades spent more than four years on trial for their lives. Some were then imprisoned. During their detention Simon Nkoli faced another trial, which changed the face of lesbian and gay politics in southern Africa - he came out as a gay man.

“During many months of debate and discussion with his comrades and lawyers. Simon convinced these senior UDF and ANC leaders that lesbian and gay people faced discrimination. He confronted and destroyed the myth that holds that it is unAfrican to be gay. His friends like Gcina Malindi defended his record as an anti-apartheid activist.” (Vusi Msiza). This thesis is supported by Jacklyn Cock’s more scholarly essay.

Finally Tatchell approach to the ANC in the late eighties was completely different to the way Outrage has sort to tackle homophobia in Palestinian communities. At no point did Tatchell suggest that his opposition to Apartheid, or for that mater support for the ANC, depended on them adopting pro-gay policies. Nor did Tatchell at the time ever take to any demo an unclear banner that seemed to dichotomise opposition to apartheid with lesbian and gay rights. It is Tatchell that has changed his position not me.

Now I am not suggesting that you should neccessarily give support to any particular organisation but I do expect unconditional support for Palestinian Liberation. However it seems from your reticence here, and your comments on Harry’s Place, that you won’t even speak out against Israel’s targeting of Palestinian or for that mater Lebanese civilians and civil targets – well shame on you.

All the best

Vusi Msiza’s article:

Anon Article

Jacklyn Cock’s essay

At 4:06 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Richard, your efforts are in vain. I have not denied that there was homophobia in the ANC ranks, and I have no quarrel at all with your legnthy recap of history, BUT it is all a straw man, my dear fellow. You claimed that the ANC turned a blind eye to the 'necklace' murders of queers. That is a lie, not only because they didn't do so, but becuase there were no necklace murders of queers to begin with.

Winnie Mandela's 'football team' was linked to a single murder. One. Those responsible where tried and convicted.

No one is denying that there were homophobic elements in the ANC, but this homophobia was challenged both externally and, more crucially, from within. In contrast, any criticism of homophobia in the ranks of the PLO, is denounced as a diversion and an attempt to discredit them. The suggestion is that solidarity should be uncritical and unconditional.

I wish to see the efforts and events that led to the ANC embracing gay rights replicated in the current day vis a vis liberation movements. You do not.

At 11:09 am, Blogger Brian Miller said...

Is that insular white British socialist guy still lecturing the South African anti-apartheid activist on his own history? How (typically) arrogant.

At 9:53 pm, Anonymous richard farnos said...

Grow up Brian.

At 12:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...


so the anc is not perfect big deal get your own house in order and sort out gay racism.

A non caucasian woman or man can go to most gay bars anywhere in the world and exect the same treatment at best to be ignored at worst to be attacked. how is it that this situation is never addressed considering that it is a global problem?

At 6:29 pm, Anonymous richard farnos said...

I think that you are getting the wrong end of the stick, anonymous. My point about that ANC is not demonise it but rather to show that people and organisations can change and the best way that we activist can bring around such change is through making common cause.

This is as true of tackling the undeniable racism that exists in the LGBT community as it was for the ANC or could be for the Palestinian cause.

If, however, we remain confind to our little boxes, demonising others, and justifiying such hatred apon the hatred we have received, nothing will change at all.

May I remind you, anonymous, that British Imperialism was built and depended on 'divid and rule'. May I suggest that current 'communalist' hatreds, while diverse in their origin, in effect only really serve the interests of powerful economic interests. Such as those eager to seize Iran's oil wells.

All the best

At 11:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i think you've got the wrong end of the stick where did you get hatred from?

the gay scene is different as a non caucasion who goes on the scene will probally be isolated and vulnerable and suceptable to racists and they usually know who to home in on. i think that if young non caucasions were aware of the problems they may encounter on the scene it may help to reduce the number of suicides, drug addictions, physical and mental abuses etc. Since no one is willing to discuss racism in the gay community and how to combat it I guess I'll just keep posting while people like you try to change the subject.

At 8:48 pm, Blogger Brett Lock said...

Anonymous: are you gay? Have you suffered any racism on "the scene" (whatever that is)? And if so, could you tell us about it?

There is racism in all sectors of society and I won't for a moment claim that there is none in the gay community, though I don't think it is any more or less than anywhere else.

What are these 'problems' you refer to? It is hard to have a discussion if you're not willing to be specific. Rather, it reduces your credibility: it may appear that you're just making up random accusations without any real substance.

The so-called "scene" is just a tiny subsection of the gay community. I have no doubt that parts of it are disablist, agist, weightist, racist, and obsessed with looks, money, fashion and other shallow persuits, including alcohol and substance abuse. But "the scene" while in itself quite varied, is non-representative, as non-representative in fact as say patrons of the gansta-rap scene might be said to represent the black community. It's absurd.

At 1:25 am, Anonymous richard farnos said...

Sure Anonymous I think that I get your point. I can not denie that there is racism on the scene and that, indeed within the 'community' their is a tendency to dictomomise race, religion and sexuality. As a result life is made more differcuit for non-causcians (as you put it).

On a political level my point remains, however, these differences can only be overcome by making common cause. On a more personal level I am aware of organisations that may be able to give support to people suffering racism within the community. I don't have their details to hand, but will look them out and post them here.

All the best

At 9:35 am, Anonymous richard farnos said...

Hi Anonymous. I realised how little I know about you, so to give a comprehensive list of all non-causcian LGBT groups would be a bit much. So, assumping that you reside in the UK, may I refer you to a nationwide directory run by London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard.

All the best


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