Israel | Religion

Where Gay Palestine Goes To Party


When Palestinian gays want to party, they go to Tel Aviv. Today the Times of Israel published a story by Michal Shmulovich about the Palestinian Queer Party, held in an "underground Israeli nightclub":

People greeted each other in Arabic: Kif inta? Shu ’jdid? The stereo wailed, inti ‘omri! — you are my life! — as the DJ played hit after hit by Egyptian and Lebanese pop stars Amr Diab, Nancy Ajram and Sherine. No Eyal Golan or Justin Timberlake here.

And there were drag queens, dressed to the nines in high heels and short skirts, with bows in their very long, very straightened hair.

... The party is an anonymous safe haven. And that’s why it’s such a hit.

The group alQaws organizes the Palestinian Queer Party — its name for these monthly events. According to its website, alQaws works to “promote sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society” throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories.

... Call it activism or pleasure seeking: The party celebrates both being Palestinian and being gay.

The Palestinians come from all over. From elsewhere in Israel, from the West Bank, from the Golan Heights -- from everywhere, it seems, except Gaza:

Abbud, a young Palestinian man from outside Ramallah, smiled when I asked him how he got to Tel Aviv. “Oh, we have our ways,” he said, hinting that it was not the first time he’d made the voyage. I asked him how he planned to get home at the end of the night. “Getting out is easier than getting in,” he replied.

When I asked him if he thinks people come from Gaza, he laughed and said it’s too dangerous, but added that they would probably like to. There have been rumors of over a hundred gay Palestinians from Gaza who have crossed into Israel to live, to avoid persecution for their homosexuality. However, the move remains dangerous.

The Palestinian Queer Party began a decade ago in Jerusalem, and moved to Tel Aviv "about five years ago." Most of the men who attend are closeted, including the organizer, "Tamer," who lives in Tel Aviv with his boyfriend and two gay roommates. Of the four cohabitants, only one is out to his family. Tamer's two sons from a previous marriage believe he's living with rooommates to save money.

To maintain both their personal safety and their social mobility, Tamer's two rooommates intend to marry women -- they both believe they can muster enough bisexual lust to be able to fulfill their husbandly duties. Talal, a young man Shmulovich interviewed at the Queer Party, hopes to escape the region with his partner, both to avoid anti-gay persecution and to avoid imperiling the political career of his brother, an official with the Palestinian Authority:

It would be a major blow to his brother’s high-ranking position ... if the community found out about Talal’s sexuality. And so, the young couple plan to move abroad for a while, they told me, hopefully to Europe, to try to “live in freedom.”

Lesbians, who by virtue of their sex enjoy few freedoms in Palestinian society, seldom make the journey to Tel Aviv for the Queer Party.

Shmulovich recorded a few moments of the Queer Party on what appears to be a cell phone. The footage betrays none of the cloak-and-daggerishness of the affair; it could have been shot a at any gay club in the world. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...


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  1. This is a good example of why Arabs hate Israel, the United States, and the West in general. The stated goal of this group is "gender diversity".....which presumably was syptomized by the prominence of drag queens at their events:

    "And there were drag queens, dressed to the nines in high heels and short skirts, with bows in their very long, very straightened hair"

    The "gay" culture of the West is symbolized by a desire to destroy masculinity and turn men into subordinates to women......
    in other words, "gay" has come to mean not sexual freedom or the ability to bond emotionally with other men, but rather a hatred of men and all things male and a promotion of all things female.

    And Arabs respond accordingly--rejecting such a culture, even as bisexual activity remains widespread.

    It is not homosexuality that they regard as disgusting, it is the feminist-driven culture of "gay"--and the fact that this group goes to Israel to practice this culture will only reinforce their attitudes.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 21, 2012 11:11:23 AM

  2. A "Queer Party" . . . the perfect destination for closet cases of any nationality! Palestinian Lesbians aren't missing out on anything. Sometimes I think the slogan "Gay and Proud" should be changed to "Oppressed and Proud".

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Apr 21, 2012 11:11:31 AM

  3. It's a good thing that they have a place to party. Maybe not such a good thing is that their culture has forced them to equate being a gay male with dressing and acting as a female. We are seeing the same thing in Iran, where gay men are forced into sex changes to be able to live openly.

    Posted by: happyday | Apr 21, 2012 11:34:39 AM

  4. Whose side are you on, Rick? Those who consider homosexuality disgusting--or the Arab kids who risk a lot to sneak into Israel and have a little fun in a safe haven?

    Posted by: Jeff NYC | Apr 21, 2012 11:47:16 AM

  5. Sounds like when gays in Oklahoma or Alabama drive to Chicago or New Orleans.

    Posted by: anon | Apr 21, 2012 12:05:20 PM

  6. @Jeff NYC Did you read what I posted, Jeff? Arabs don't consider homosexuality disgusting--bisexuality is rampant among them and I know this from direct experience. What they are disgusted by is the anti-male culture of "gay" which they rightly associate with the West.

    You know, one of the most profound experiences of my life has been that, in traveling throughout the supposedly homophobic Islamic world, I have observed how emotionally close men are to each other, spending almost all their time with each other and developing deep bonds of friendship that are almost unheard of among men in the West. AND how easy it is to find sex with men, with a much higher proportion being open to it than is the case in the West.

    And then I come home to the supposedly "enlightened" West and I observe all the social dysfunction of "gay" life, how unpleasant "gay" men often are to each other and how they tend to attach themselves emotionally to women rather than men....with other men (including each other) being sexually objectified.

    I think there is a happy medium between the two cultures, but what exists in the West now is absolutely not good.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 21, 2012 12:06:09 PM

  7. Rick, it's like you say interesting things but mix them with all sorts of distorted ideas. When you say "The 'gay' culture of the West is symbolized by a desire to destroy masculinity" - that is an interesting idea and probably partially true, provided that we are talking about the concept of masculinity prevalent in modern culture that subjugates women and children under the patriarchal concept of property. Feminists talk about 'dismantling' masculinity frequently. But then you continue "and turn men into subordinates to women..." - and that is a claim that feminists do not make. Dismantling gender norms is for the purpose of equality. No one is supposed to subjugate anyone.

    You say "'gay' has come to mean not sexual freedom or the ability to bond emotionally with other men, but rather a hatred of men and all things male and a promotion of all things female." Well that is ridiculous. If men are not subjugated to women, then there is no hatred. There is, however, the promotion of all things female - what is wrong with that?

    And that is why, Rick, some backward institutions in the Middle East hate Western culture. It really is about the subjugation of women under the concept of property. The foundations of Western Political philosophy, Mill (The Subjection of Women) and Locke (Two Treatises on Government), worked hard at demonstrating how and why that is in order to implement social reform.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 21, 2012 12:12:30 PM

  8. "But then you continue "and turn men into subordinates to women..." - and that is a claim that feminists do not make"

    Of course, they don't, for the same reason that "Christians" say they don't "hate" gay people, but "love" us. You try to make what you are doing sound noble by couching it in language that sounds nice, even though your motives are ugly.

    "Dismantling gender norms is for the purpose of equality. No one is supposed to subjugate anyone"

    No, they are for the purpose of empowering women--and they will take as much power as men will allow them to take. Of course, women, being inherently weaker than men, can only obtain power through social manipulation......ergo, the attempt to use the social and emotional dependence of men on them to their advantage.

    "You say "'gay' has come to mean not sexual freedom or the ability to bond emotionally with other men, but rather a hatred of men and all things male and a promotion of all things female."

    No, most "gay" men really and truly hate men and value them only as sexual objects. It took me a long time to come to that realization, but it is true. They idolize women and live vicariously through them and that is what the whole "diva" phenomenon represents.....and if you look closely at their lives, you discover, as I did, that their closes friends tend to be women, too, while their relationships with men, to the extent that they exist at all, tend to be short-lived, with the very rare exception

    All in such sharp contrast to what I have observed in the Islamic world.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 21, 2012 12:26:34 PM

  9. No. When some Christians say they love gay people and we call it hate, it is by their actions that we judge them. On the contrary, there are no political movements whereby women are trying to subjugate men through the concept of property. That's a big difference.

    Women are entitled to take as much power as they can. On what grounds should men deny them power? And at birth women and men seem equally helpless and rely on both parents in order to survive; women are not inferior. And men use their emotional and social dependence on other men to their advantage - that is not a trait inherent to women.

    You seem to, for some reason, think that objectification is bad. I suppose you abhor models and actors who are objectified on a constant basis? And I don't see your point about men being friends with women at all; and it just seems so anecdotal. I think I have two female friends and all the rest are men (mostly straight). But I don't form conspiracy theories out of such data.

    And ya, Western attitudes are in sharp contrast to Islamic ones. That's kind of my point. Women suffer under horrible legal oppression in those countries. I lived for a while with a young woman from Iran. She dd not have pleasant things to say about the current regime.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 21, 2012 12:47:20 PM

  10. Arab culture in general is light years behind western Europe, North America, Australia/N.Z. Woman are strictly second class citizens, to the point any contact aside from marriage is condemned, females are considered 'unclean', and boys and men engage in widespread same-sex activity that is still also strongly condemned [grounds for execution in many places]. If the guy is a 'top', he's not gay, even if he rapes boys. It is what it is.

    I'm anti-Zionist. I think Zionism is a genuine form of racism, and I think many Zionist are little more than fascist. That said, Israel is a damn site better civil rights and human rights wise than it's neighbors.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 21, 2012 12:58:42 PM

  11. @BRIM Just listen to yourself. Demonstrating everything I just said about "gay" men in the West. Obsessed with women, on every level. Arguing for empowering women at the expense of men. And defending objectification of men, but not of women. No identification or sense of shared destiny with other men at all.

    The West is in decline, largely due to its adherence to feminist values. Another two generations of birth rates of the sort we have seen in Western Europe--low birth rates for European women who place "empowerment" above children....and high birth rates for Muslim women--and you will see an Islamic majority in the West, which will have destroyed itself through its own internal social sickness, without the mullahs ever having had to engage in "jihad"--and it will have deserved its fate

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 21, 2012 12:58:45 PM

  12. Brim, while I, and undoubtedly other readers, appreciate your thoughtful comments (I thought I was the only one that refers to Locke or Mill on this blog!), they are really more than Rick deserves. He's not here to discuss. He's only here to post the same hateful, ignorant, dead-end things that he always posts about women and any gay man that does not fulfill his personal vision of what every gay man should be. You can post thoughtful responses to his nonsense until the cows come home but you will not get anywhere with him. Sooner or later, we all reach this same conclusion.

    Posted by: RyanInSacto | Apr 21, 2012 1:01:28 PM

  13. @BRIM,

    'And men use their emotional and social dependence on other men to their advantage - that is not a trait inherent to women.'

    ....??? Bizarre comment.

    'Women are entitled to take as much power as they can. On what grounds should men deny them power?'

    ....And therefore men and boys are entitled to take as much power as they can? On what grounds should women and girls deny them power?

    'On the contrary, there are no political movements whereby women are trying to subjugate men...'

    .....Political Correctness and the 'radical' feminist movement is ALL ABOUT 'subjugating' males, men and boys. And it's been pretty successful at least as far as the 'boy' part over the past 40 years. Boys as a gender are clearly by any measure taken 'subjugated' and disadvantaged compared to girls in our society and other P.C. western societies.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 21, 2012 1:04:05 PM

  14. I'm curious, and checked the traffic statistics, etc., of TR and discovered [assuming they're reasonably accurate] that MANY females visit this site. Which is of course fine. But how many posters are female [lesbian, bi, whatever] vs male [gay,bi, whatever]? How many fall into the 'radical' feminist lesbian camp? It would help to explain many posts.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Apr 21, 2012 1:09:38 PM

  15. Well just listen to yourself, Rick. You give the appearance of supporting institutions that enslave half the human race. And it is not at the expense of men that women are empowered; it strengthens societies. Mill actually makes an economic argument that appeals to free market capitalism - if competition breeds strength and we want the best person for the job, then by doubling the workforce you increase the odds of finding the best person for the job.

    And I defend the objectification of myself, women and men equally so long as it is not exploitation.

    We will only see Islamic societies if we give up our political principles. There is nothing wrong with Christians, gays, Jews, Muslims or Atheists being involved in politics. There is something wrong with allowing some groups to trample the rights of others. Islam and secularism seem to be at odds sometimes. Muslims who enjoy the benefits of secular government are not a problem.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 21, 2012 1:11:00 PM

  16. @BRIM,

    Are you new to this site? "Rick" is an automated application that gives mysoginist, racist, homophobic and transphobic responses to everything. Its like malware or spam!

    Posted by: Felix | Apr 21, 2012 1:22:36 PM

  17. I looked at the albeit very short clip twice just to be sure..."prominence" of drag queens is more than an exaggeration, in fact I couldn't see even one drag queen. But then for some of our resident macho men even one queen, in drag or out, is one too many.

    Posted by: Paul Keckonen | Apr 21, 2012 3:23:41 PM

  18. @FELIX lol ya, I'm relatively new.

    @RATBASTARD I happen to be a gay male. I also think that you cannot have a homosexual revolution without a sexual revolution.

    One point Rick was making is that women gain access to power through social manipulation. My point was that men have the same access to that power. Ever get hired at a place because of who your uncle knows? Well, that is manipulating a social relationship to your advantage. Ever used sex in business? Ever flirted to get your way with a straight woman? That's social and emotional manipulation and men do it all the time.

    Everybody is entitled to the same set of rights. It is primarily women and children who had all rights stripped away (historically speaking). So yes, men and boys are entitled to the same sets of rights though men don't actually have to take BACK legal powers.

    Your comment about men and boys being subjugated - I am not sure what you mean by that. In what way are men subjugated by women?

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 21, 2012 3:52:18 PM

  19. I guess pinkwashing hasn't made it into the consciousness of towleroad readers.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Apr 21, 2012 4:48:23 PM

  20. "I also think that you cannot have a homosexual revolution without a sexual revolution"

    Depends on what you mean by "sexual revolution". If you are referring to the loosening of sexual mores in general, as occurred in the 1960's, then you may be right. If you are referring to feminism, I think you are dead wrong.

    Feminism arose in the West, while it has failed to gain acceptance elsewhere in the world, largely because of a male culture that pushed men to distance themselves emotionally from other men and devote themselves instead to women via "romantic love"--an idea that is distinctly Western. So you see the roots of "romantic love" and homophobia are one and the same.

    And feminists manipulated this homophobic male culture to their advantage, as it gave them leverage that they could use to enhance their power in other areas.

    None of this benefited gay men (for want of a better term) one iota--indeed, it is only in the last decade that any real progress in eradicating homophobia has been made....and I believe that is due largely to the realization by men in general that a homophobic male culture has put them at a power disadvantage vis-a-vis women.....and this is why most of the real leadership on gay rights has come not from women, but from "straight" men of late.

    Ironically, the "gay" culture of effeminacy, with its idolization of women and general contempt for men, is at odds with this larger movement among men, rather than being in sync with it.....but I think it will be rendered irrelevant by large-scale changes that will obliterate it and obviate its causes. I certainly hope so.

    Posted by: Rick | Apr 21, 2012 5:16:55 PM

  21. By 'sexual revolution' I mean the legal and social equality of women - feminism, yes. Women must have rights over production and reproduction, and that only comes about through legal and social equality.

    So marriage, a legal institution in which men owned women, was converted into a social institution. Instead of the father's permission for marriage, you needed the woman's permission for marriage (and the giving away of the bride became symbolic). But prohibitions against male-male sex run back much farther that the late 18th century when romantic love was "invented".

    Instead of homophobia and romantic love sharing the same roots, I would advocate for the view that homophobia and misogyny share the same root. Sodomy laws, for example, were formed on the notion that sex has a teleological function. In early modern Christian thought, sex was for the purpose of having kids; so oral sex, anal sex, pulling out, masturbation, etc. all become against the law. And homosexuality is obviously against any "natural law".

    It was forbidden before romantic love, Rick. And the reason why is because men owned - OWNED - the rights to production and reproduction since they owned their wives. And that system was rooted in blatant misogyny.

    Posted by: Brim | Apr 21, 2012 7:02:01 PM

  22. The format of Towleroad really sucks. It's really not worth the effort. It's not like there aren't functional news sites out there to model.

    Posted by: David Hearn | Apr 21, 2012 10:35:48 PM

  23. Rick, are women second class citizens? Do they deserve equal rights?

    Posted by: Michael | Apr 22, 2012 12:38:47 AM

  24. As a Jew, I am so proud of Israel... it's not perfect and neither is America. And when you try to mix politics or religion into the equation there seems to be no middle ground. There have been those who try to bring their stupid reasons into gay forums here and Canada like gay Pride Parades... and it is a thinly disguised anti-Semitic B.S.!

    This article brings hope in the future for gay Palestinians & Israelis. Shalom and Peace and understanding is progress in this area of the world.

    Posted by: Jerry Pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher | Apr 22, 2012 5:01:44 AM

  25. Good for the Palestinians!
    (And what an interesting discussion!)

    Posted by: Gene Touchet | Apr 22, 2012 9:11:48 AM

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