Ten years ago, in December 2007, the Australian Jewish News published two letters authored by Robert Weil: “AIDS is a gay disease” and “AIDS does discriminate”. It’s worth reflecting on the strong-held beliefs of Robert Weil to understand the toxic attitudes held by some in Melbourne’s Jewish community.
This article originally appeared on The Slowly Boiled Frog.
Sunday, November 12, 2017
An open response to Isi Leibler
Isi Leibler is a frequent contributor to the Jerusalem Post. Sunday he writes: “Candidly speaking: Recent sexual controversies and upheavals.”
It causes me great discomfort when a fellow Jew expresses anti-gay rhetoric. Most of us have learned a thing or two from 6,000 years of oppression. Mr. Leibler has not. Leibler begins by telling us just how wonderful he is. After explaining that he is an octogenarian:
I am no prude and when, 50 years ago, it was fashionable to demonize homosexuals I never joined the pack. I always maintained that consensual sexual relations were a private matter, I never discriminated against gays or lesbians, and I unhesitatingly employed quite a few. And despite the strict halachic prohibitions, I maintain that if gay people wish to be observant, they should not be ostracized from communal religious participation.
This is what follows next:
At the same time, I oppose gays flaunting their sexuality (for example by participating in pride parades) or promoting their lifestyle as progressive while implicitly denigrating the traditional concept of a nuclear family. They should be free to live their lives as they deem fit and enjoy all civil rights extended to heterosexual couples. But I am not ready to concede that gay couples should be glorified, as they sometimes are on TV, for supposedly partaking in a superior alternative lifestyle. I feel that this encourages young people to experiment unnecessarily with their own sexuality.
I scarcely know where to begin but I will start with the absolute certainty that a sexual orientation is not a lifestyle. Suggesting otherwise is an appeal to stereotype. It is an expression of bigotry. I am a retired CEO. My late partner was an executive with American Media. Our “lifestyle” had nothing to do with our sexual orientation. Rather, it reflected our business interests and most of our friends were straight (or at least they claimed to be).
I have no idea whatsoever what Mr. Leibler thinks is denigrating the nuclear family at the hands of dastardly gay people. He is not specific. However, what is obviously the most offensive and intellectually dishonest part of this is the notion that sexual orientation can be influenced by others or through experimentation.
It would help if Mr. Leibler knew the scientific fact that sexual orientation is a continuum with homosexual and heterosexual at the extreme ends. Nothing is going to change one’s positioning along the scale with the exception of a small amount of natural fluidity. People do not “experiment” with their sexual orientation and even if they did, they would still end up in the same place. Those around the middle might cross the 50-yard-line but not to experiment. They are satisfying a temporal attraction. Ultimately that is why all of those pray-away-the-gay enterprises have been such dismal failures. No one ever really changes.
Furthermore, Mr. Leibler does not define what he means by “glorified.” I don’t know what television he watches but in this country we see (all too few) gay couples. At best they are truthfully portrayed as the intellectual and moral equals of heterosexual couples. Again, being gay is not an alternative lifestyle. Then Mr. Leibler goes on a tear about same-sex marriage:
This brings me to the same-sex marriage issue, which has created such a global upheaval. The continuity of mankind depends on male-female intercourse. Marriage implies a heterosexual union and to religious people it is a sacred institution.
While I fully support the legal system providing gay couples with rights identical to those of a heterosexual union, surely appropriate commitment ceremonies can be devised that do not imply bracketing such unions in the same category as traditional marriages.
Jewish non-Orthodox bodies like the Conservative and Reform movements should at most be neutral on this issue, but unfortunately, they are at the forefront of calling for gay unions to be defined as traditional marriages.
Let’s get the intercourse out of the way immediately. I am not sure but perhaps Mr. Leibler believes that when gays marry, that deprives society of an otherwise heterosexual spouse (as well as his or her sexual activities to crank out children). If that is the case then Leibler is beyond the point of redemption. Moreover, marriage might be sacred to religious people which is why those same people marry in their synagogue. To others it is a civil construct.
I am not familiar with Israeli law but in this country marriage is a legal construct that may, or may not be, a religious ritual. In this country we have also experimented with the concept of separate but equal which is what Leibler is essentially advocating. Great legal minds came to the conclusion that separate but equal is inherently unequal. There is no practical reason for gay couples to have a different outcome to being wed. Calling it marriage is not only the correct term but it has no effect whatsoever on so-called traditional marriage. If Mr. Leibler truly supports equal rights for gay couples as he claims then he should vigorously support marriage equality.
Perhaps the answer is right in front of Mr. Leibler. He has the the ability to discuss these matters with conservative and reform rabbis who can explain their reasons for supporting marriage equality.
The gay marriage debate has descended into bullying and vilifying anyone who dares to defend traditional beliefs. But objecting to gay marriage is neither discriminatory nor homophobic. The slandering of all who oppose gay marriage has descended into a poisonous hate fest.
Really? It seems to me that we must entertain bullshit about lifestyles and the pernicious ability of gay people to turn straight youth gay. Then, on top of that, another layer of manure is spread in the form of the preposterous notion that same-sex marriage has some mystical effect on so-called traditional marriage — all engineered to make gay people unequal.
Does Mr. Leibler have so much as a clue about the bigotry inherent in demeaning gay people for “flaunting their life style?” We are deeply offended and rightfully so. If Leibler wants less hate then he can ratchet down his homophobia and the reaction will recede accordingly. If he wants less poison in the environment then he should turn off his spigot. And then he can cease feigning victimization as a tactic to gain traction.
The blatant bigotry continues:
The just campaign to ensure equal social and civic rights for gays has succeeded beyond all expectations. But it was never intended to promote a gay lifestyle at the expense of heterosexuality and the nuclear family. I do not endorse the belief that sexuality is fluid. Nor would I condone the silencing of traditional and religious values, which consider marriage between man and wife to be uniquely sacred.
“… at the expense of heterosexuality and the nuclear family” and he ponders why that is considered bigoted hate speech. And let’s not imply that marriage equality has an effect on the religious practices of anyone. That is just dishonest nonsense.
You can continue to read Leibler’s diatribe at the link above. I have had more than I care to have.
A document protesting a gay rabbi was being shared around the Melbourne Jewish community.
Intolerance of gay people is unacceptable.
Gay orthodox rabbi Steven Greenberg was billed as guest speaker at the Caulfield Hebrew Congregation on Friday June 16 2017:
It came to our attention last week that a document “HERESY-CHC” was being distributed around the Melbourne Jewish community calling for concerned members of the Jewish community to protest this event:
The document contains the name “Harry Elkus” in the Author field of the document Properties:
It also came to our attention that some of the information in the flyer was apparently misleading:
FYI(i just received this from a protest organiser)==========================Please send this out ASAPTo the Melbourne Jewish community,Yesterday an email was disseminated to the community calling for a public protest outside Caulfield Shule during its upcoming event this Friday night.Following consultation with leading communal Rabbonim we hereby inform the community that the planned protest has been cancelled. We discourage anyone from participating in any public protests as it will only serve to escalate the controversy surrounding the issue.We also wish to clarify one aspect of the email distributed yesterday. Some in the community understood from the email that the (now cancelled) protest had the widespread support of the Rabbinate including, but not limited to, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) and the Rabbinical Council of Australia and New Zealand (RCANZ). We wish to clarify that at no point were the RCV or the RCANZ consulted about the said protest. We apologise sincerely to both Rabbinic bodies for any implication otherwise.We maintain our view that the event at Caulfield Shule should not be under the auspices of Orthodoxy but we recognize that public protests are counter-productive.May Hashem help us in seeing Torah true Judaism upheld in our community.
It is deeply disappointing and disturbing that some members of the Jewish community wish to use their religion to demonise and further marginalise homosexual people. There is no room for discrimination or intolerance in the Jewish community.
Is it with extreme disappointment and dismay that a representative of an Australian religious organisation has invoked the name of one of the most feared people of the Holocaust, in comparison with a minority group who are campaigning for equal rights under Australian law.
Tens of thousands of homosexual men were murdered under the hand of Joseph Goebbels, alongside many millions of Jews and people from a variety of national identities and religious beliefs. To be compared to this person, in the pursuit of equality and human rights is unconscionable. It beggars belief that an individual with a respected career in the Australian Defence Force is incapable of comprehending the gravity and insensitivity of the words he uttered on national television.
As a support group representing gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from a Jewish background, the words of Jim Wallace and the Australian Christian Lobby hit our members and those in the community who share a similar identity with a double punch, and they continue to reverberate through the families and friends of these people and the communities they belong to.
There is no excuse for hate and intolerance of people on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Equal rights in marriage will only benefit the wider community and help show the commitment and love people in all relationships, irrespective of gender, express for each other. All Australians will benefit from equal marriage rights.
It is time for the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, and the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, to stop listening to those who peddle hatred and intolerance, and start listening to those people who want equality and love. It is only then that Australia will become a much better country and the political leaders can know that they have made a worthwhile contribution to the welfare of all Australians, now and into the future.
Convenor, Aleph Melbourne.
June 7 2012.
[ Source material ]
RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF NSW INC
All correspondence to
The Hon. Secretary
Rabbi Yoram Ulman
Rabbi Eli Feldman
Rabbi Chaim Ingram
Rabbi Paul Lewin
31 March 2012
STATEMENT FROM THE RABBINICAL COUNCIL OF NSW ON SAME SEX MARRIAGE
To the Honorable Members of the Senate Legal and constitutional Affairs Committee:-
The Rabbinical Council of NSW represents all Orthodox and mainstream synagogues in NSW
The Rabbinical Council of NSW Inc (RCNSW) states and affirms as follows:-
1) The definition of marriage as stipulated in the Marriage Legislation Amendment Act 2004, namely that “marriage means the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others” is consistent with the traditional definition of marriage expressed in sacred Jewish texts and accepted through the ages by the other major world faiths.
2) At Mount Sinai, the giving of the Torah included reiteration of a set of key universal laws and values binding and adopted by civilised societies throughout the world since time immemorial.
3) Central to the key universal values expressed in the Torah are norms relating to human sexuality which endorse the stable sexual union of a man and a woman in a socially recognised relationship of mutual commitment whilst rejecting other sexual unions notably adultery, incest, bestiality and homosexuality.
4) It has been proven and demonstrated globally throughout history that the institution of marriage is central to the formation of a healthy society and to the concept of family. By virtue of their physical make-up, human beings are able to achieve self –actualisation through participation in the higher union of man and woman within marriage resulting in the production of offspring who are raised in a stable and moral home and who possess an innate and close connection with the mother and father who conceived and gave birth to the child.
5) The Torah mandates that all human beings, created as they are in the image of G-D, are to be cherished and loved by their fellows. The lifestyle choices made by individuals do not affect the precept that they be treated with respect and love. Nevertheless it is our firm conviction that all humankind remains bound by the aforementioned universal moral code handed down by G-D at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago.
6) The RCNSW views with profound concern efforts to redefine marriage and thus legally sanction same-sex marriage. It urges most earnestly that the integrity of marriage in its traditional and time-hallowed form will be preserved.
For further information please call RCNSW Honorary Secretary Rabbi Chaim Ingram.
|Title:||The Rainbow Report – Freedom of Speech Pt 2|
|Summary:||Doug speaks with Dr Mary Lou Rasmussen of Monash University about the uproar created by the homophobic remarks of Rabbi Shimon Cowen, and the implications for academic freedom of speech|
|Published:||Wed, 22 Feb 2012 9:41 AM|
|Download:||RAINBOW REPORT 21022012 PART 2.mp3|