Back in my Seminary days (Jewish Theological Seminary that is), I learned that Talmudic rabbis strictly forbade Jews from attending the Roman theaters and circuses. Much of Roman public life was viewed as idolatrous, libidinous and morally unclean. But this teaching didn’t prepare me for the possibility that Jews themselves in the modern day might themselves conduct such theater and circus events. For how else can you describe the moral circus represented in this New York Times article, Clerics Fighting a Gay Festival for Jerusalem?
Doesn’t that new Ku Klux Klan outfit look stunning?
(credit: European Pressphoto Agency)
International gay leaders have slated Jerusalem to be host for a ten day WorldPride festival which would, as the Times article notes "make a statement about tolerance and diversity in the Holy City, home to three great religious traditions." But it seems that those three gracious and tolerant religions and a number of others as well, do not look kindly on gays "defiling" the streets of the Sacred City.
The Rev. Leo Giovinetti, whose ministry sponsors
OnePlace.com, is, again according to the Times, "an evangelical pastor from San Diego who is both a veteran of the American culture war over homosexuality and a frequent visitor to Israel, where he has formed relationships with rabbis and politicians."
And here’s what Giovinetti’s own website has to say about his spiritual pedigree:
Pastor Leo and his wife Sandra have a story that reads like the script of a blockbuster movie. This Las Vegas entertainer-turned-preacher boy, who once dreamed of being bigger than Elvis, became born-again during the "Jesus Movement" of the 70’s.
Boy, I don’t know about you but this statement sure does convince me that the good preacher is a selfless individual with absolutely no agenda in this other than to bring light to those suffering in darkness. Remember my earlier comment about circuses? Well, who better to bring the circus to Jerusalem than a former Las Vegas band leader?
Giovinetti was the moral sentinel who alerted his fellow religious leaders to the depradations planned for Jerusalem:
“We did not come here because we hate homosexuals,” he said. “But when they said, ‘I’m coming to your house and I’m going to spit on your mother, what are you going to do about it?’ In order to be a good son I’m going to say, ‘Mom, that’s not right and I’m going to fight it.’”
(from an AP story featured in Gay & Lesbian Times)
Ah, yes I’m certain that all those dirty fags are coming to Jerusalem to spit on Leo Giovinetti’s poor mother. I’ve got news for you, Giovinetti, you busybody: Jerusalem is just as much my mother as yours and my mother would be proud to host this gathering. So butt out buddy.
His stirring clarion call was met with approbation by all his similarly bigoted peers (see accompanying photo image).
He said he had first heard about WorldPride from a congregation member who had told Mr. Giovinetti that he was gay for many years and still monitored gay Web sites. Mr. Giovinetti said he alerted Israeli politicians and religious leaders.
Mr. Giovinetti circulated a petition against the festival, titled "Homosexuals to Desecrate Jerusalem," which he said had been signed by every member of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party in the Israeli Parliament.
Well, gee that’s quite a feat, Mr. Giovinetti and I’m mighty impressed by this enormous show of support for your position. Now try to get them to sign a petition allowing a secular Jew to ride a bus on Shabbat. Oh, and while you’re at it could you explain why you couldn’t get any non-religious MPs to sign? Could it be they think you’re full of crap? Or just can’t be bothered with your moral lunacy?
Another American who helped bring together the opposition was Rabbi Yehuda Levin, of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, which says it represents more than 1,000 American Orthodox rabbis. At the news conference in Jerusalem, he called the festival "the spiritual rape of the Holy City." He said, "This is not the homo land, this is the Holy Land."
Ah, another memorable quotation from a profound spiritual thinker. If that quotation didn’t move you sufficiently with its profundity, try this one from
Abdel Aziz Bukhari, a Sufi sheik, who added:
"We can’t permit anybody to come and make the Holy City dirty. This is very ugly and very nasty to have these people come to Jerusalem."
Ah yes, once again we hear the beating of dove’s wings as the world’s religions shower us with grace and wisdom. I wonder who makes the streets of Jerusalem dirtier–gays or miscreants like these religious leaders?
Unfortunately, recently I’ve found myself sounding off here quite often against the danger to Israel of allowing evangelical Christian Zionists to hijack Israel as a religious and political issue. Here the good Reverend has placed another shining example of such a danger right in my lap.
Those Israelis and American Jews who cooperate with the evangelicals in their mission to sacralize Israel risk making Israel into a laughingstock or worse. If they think that drawing a group of bigoted religious leaders around a table to denounce a gay presence in the Holy City will help raise Israel’s status in the world or bring it new friends, they are sorely mistaken. Precisely the opposite will happen.
Among those same Talmudic rabbis I referred to above, there was one who amended the prohibition by allowing one exception. A Jew could attend the Roman circus if he went in order to cast a thumb’s up to save a gladiator’s life. For it is written: "In a place where there is no human being, strive to be one." That’s why I’ve deigned to write about the Jerusalem evangelical circus. There are certainly no sane, rational or tolerant spiritual leaders among Rev. Giovinetti’s acolytes. So I guess I’ll just take it upon myself to lift a thumb and say that WorldPride deserves its day in Jerusalem.