Apparently wires are getting crossed in the Holy Land: Just days after a (possibly posed) picture surfaced showing two male Israeli soldiers holding hands, a member of the Israeli Knesset said the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shouldn’t welcome gays and lesbians. Uri Ariel of the right-wing National Union party told a reporter, “If I had to choose I would not draft [gays]” because it “distracts” the army.
Israel has two-year mandatory military service for all able-bodied men and women.
Thankfully Ariel doesn’t appear to be in the majority: Israel has allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the armed forces since 1993, and discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned in the IDF. One of the largest units in the Israeli army, Unit 8200, is known for its large gay contingent.
Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich said Ariel’s comments were a “primitive and dangerous attack that comes in at a time when the Israeli public is finding enlightenment and tolerance, and is accepting the community as equals.” She added that conservative politicians make such spurious attacks to “earn political points.”
Dror Mizrahi, chairman of the Meretz Pride Forum, spoke out as well:
“Thankfully, Uri Ariel and his friends in the hallucinatory right do not decide the IDF’s draft policy. Many gays and lesbians join the IDF and have meaningful and proud service, and this will continue despite Ariel.”
Ariel’s comments also comes after another conservative member of the Knesset, Anastasia Michaeli of the Yisrael Beytenu party, claimed Israel’s Channel 10 was encouraging children to turn gay.
“Unfortunately, when I turn on Channel 10, I see so-called entertainment shows showing how nice it is to be gay,” she said. “We need to find out why Channel 10 has a right to broadcast this content that my children see, and hear that it’s fun and nice to put on make-up and dress up in skirts.”
Maybe, because it is fun and nice to put on make-up and dress in skirts?
Photos: IDF, Michael Feigin