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New York Mural Addresses Gay Rights In The Middle East

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The Birthright Israel Alumni Community and a coalition of artists called Artists 4 Israel recently unveiled a new mural in New York's West Village that aims to compare and contrast the LGBT politics of countries in the Middle East.

The New York Times offers more details:

The mural shows the outlines of two men holding hands below the headline: Who Would YOU want at Your Wedding? The male figures also hold up two balancing scales that offer a stark contrast between the state of gay rights in Israel and in some of its Arabic neighbors.

Above one scale, the text notes that Israel lets same-sex couples adopt children, that “gay people serve openly in the military and government” there and that more than 10,000 people celebrated at Tel Aviv’s 2011 Pride Parade.

On the other scale, labeled “Israel’s neighbors,” the text says that homosexuality is illegal in Syria and punishable by death in Iran. “There is no pride parade in Egypt, Jordan or Gaza,” the mural reads.

Rebecca Sugar, director of Birthright's alumni group, told the paper, "There is only one country in the Middle East where you can live freely, as you are. The surrounding countries who accuse Israel of prejudice and bias are prejudiced and biased.”

Others, however, described the mural as "Arab-bashing."

"[The mural is] blatantly divisive, opposing Israel against its neighbors in the region," said Adem Carroll from the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition. "Is this very negative messaging an encouragement to Arab nations to implement broader rights protections, or will it have a more negative backlash effect?”

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Comments

  1. I am not fond of the right wing Zionists. That doesn't make me any more fond of the fundamentalist Muslims, either. If Carroll doesn't like the truth about middle eastern bigotry, he needs to change the facts. Muslim countries are abusive of their gay citizens. If they aren't ashamed of that, they should be.

    Posted by: candideinncc | May 17, 2012 8:44:07 AM


  2. This is the same Israel in which religious nuts threw rocks at Gay Pride and in which another person was stabbed?

    Posted by: QJ201 | May 17, 2012 8:46:26 AM


  3. Of course there should be an addendum to the question of "Who would you want at your wedding?" Just don't have your wedding in Israel where same-sex marriages and civil unions are still illegal.

    Posted by: Monolith | May 17, 2012 8:49:55 AM


  4. The concept of my enemy's enemy is my friend doesn't really work with human rights. Unless and until the fundamentals are correct then saying you have gay rights in a country isn't that much of a beacon for your country.

    Don't get me wrong gay rights are important but in the Maslow hierarchy they are quite far up the pyramid.

    Posted by: Boh Dixon | May 17, 2012 8:51:56 AM


  5. I'm not a fan of bashing anybody - but this is one case of Arab bashing that is warranted.

    Meanwhile, Israel has much in its own house that needs cleaning. And so, I might add, does the US.

    Meanwhile--the Iranians are not Arabs, making that aspect of the messaging sloppy. All Iranians are not even Muslims.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | May 17, 2012 8:52:53 AM


  6. Amen, @Monolith. Just this week, Israel's Knesset killed a civil marriage bill.

    Posted by: VSo | May 17, 2012 9:13:26 AM


  7. @ Daniel Berry: the mural doesn't make the claim that Iranians are Arabs; it simply adds them to the list of "Israel's neighbors." Also, there is no classification of anything as being anti-Muslim. As Americans know very well, you don't have to be Muslim to hate gays - Christians have been leading that charge very effectively on their own for quite some time.

    @ QJ201: Israel is not a perfect society just like America is not a perfect society; it's not the intention of the mural to make that claim. You can go to New Orleans and get stabbed at Southern Decadence or mobbed by Christian haters - violence and hatred against gays pops up in any and every society. Having actually just been to Tel Aviv (and not during Pride, by the way), I can tell you that I felt more comfortable walking around anywhere in the city (not just the "gayborhood") holding my boyfriend's hand and being out and proud than I did when I was in NYC or Los Angeles. Tel Aviv is not Jerusalem, just like Oklahoma City is not San Francisco.

    @ Monolith: same-sex marriages performed abroad are fully recognized by Israel and all rights given accordingly; that's more progressive than DOMA-plagued America. The point of the mural is to contrast progressive secular Israeli society with its ultra-conservative neighbors. The fact that ultra-orthodox Black Hats dot the cityscape in Jerusalem doesn't make Israel as a whole a conservative society anymore than Evangelical Christians make the U.S. a Conservative society... er, maybe that was a bad example considering the political power of Evangelicals in America. Much of the U.S. is far more socially conservative than most of Israel.

    Posted by: Michael Godwin | May 17, 2012 9:14:32 AM


  8. Umm...Are there really gay people lauding the wonders of Islam and Arab countries? I'm sorry, but I have no respect for those backward savages...All this crap about pink-washing etc. I really can't beleive there are actually gays siding against Israel and with a bunch of savages who stone women who are raped and kill teenage boys for being gay. What a pathetic and self-hating bunch!

    Posted by: Pedro | May 17, 2012 9:23:42 AM


  9. Yeah, Israel is a looong way from perfect but it's light-years ahead of the adjacent nations.

    Posted by: Yeek | May 17, 2012 9:26:47 AM


  10. A pox on all their houses.

    Posted by: Bob R | May 17, 2012 9:56:39 AM


  11. Unfortunate waste of an opportunity to foster mature dialogue.. But then as more gay couples move into their recognized married ideal we will have to face the fact that there will be many small minded same sex morons who will use their union, family or kids to somehow justify their other views.

    Posted by: K | May 17, 2012 9:59:48 AM


  12. I agree with Pedro. It's quite jarring to read the usual anti-Israel bias when that nation is a beacon of enlightenment compared with its ferociously hostile neighbors who defiantly welcome the Dark Ages.

    Posted by: Richard | May 17, 2012 10:11:48 AM


  13. Gays for Allah? Are really that stupid?

    Posted by: hddbdh | May 17, 2012 10:14:32 AM


  14. While nobody's perfect, including Israel, they're lightyears ahead of their Arab neighbors.

    The majority of people in these countries hate everything about the West and would love to see us anihilated.

    They're stuck in the stone age. And anyone who complains about "bias" is seriously out of touch with reality.

    Posted by: Andrew | May 17, 2012 10:17:35 AM


  15. So ignore that Israel has denied rights or equality to a major sector of its population and rejoice that it is more generous to its jewish gay couples! But why is there not a J Date same sex ad in Times Square?! That would be true equality.

    Posted by: K | May 17, 2012 10:33:06 AM


  16. "only one country in the Middle East where you can live freely, as you are"

    UNLESS YOU ARE A PALESTINIAN

    Posted by: jack kough | May 17, 2012 10:55:41 AM


  17. @KOUGH

    Exactly. Reminds me of the tagline of Israel's ad campaign for it's 50th anniversary a decade ago: "No one belongs here more than you..." Unless, of course, you're a Palestinian family who has lived on that land for 1,000 years. Then you get bulldozed to make way for the haridim from Brooklyn.

    Posted by: Arrant | May 17, 2012 11:03:28 AM


  18. Defending Palestinians?

    You guys realize that given the opportunity, 99% of Palestinians would nuke America and the rest of the West into oblivion, right?

    Posted by: Andrew | May 17, 2012 11:07:27 AM


  19. The palestinians would kill me. The Israelis would recognize my same-sex marriage (were I married). I know who is my friend and who is my enemy. I wouldn't mind seeing the Israelis exterminate them all.

    Posted by: NullNaught | May 17, 2012 12:19:52 PM


  20. I guess concern for gays and lesbians Arabs is not deserved because they can't elect thie governments (many of which are backed and have arms supplied by the west such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Eygpt, UAE etc). Shouldn't throw stones in glass houses......didn't Israel just vote against allowing civil and gay marriages.

    Posted by: EvilEuropean | May 17, 2012 5:16:13 PM


  21. What is the Maslow hierarchy? BOH DIXON>

    Posted by: terryp | May 17, 2012 8:41:49 PM


  22. @Boh Dixon
    That's pretty funny! Evidently Maslow rated rights against eachother. How do you compare one immeasurable against another? I'd surely like to see how that is done. What a load.
    Gay rights are equal to all other rights. Rights are rights. Some other person's rights to live are not greater than my gay rights and my gay rights are not greater than somebody else's right to free speech.
    If you disagree, tell me how you measure something you are making up in your head as it has no impirical reality?

    Posted by: NullNaught | May 17, 2012 11:04:24 PM


  23. @Andrew
    .
    Considering your , your media and your government support for Israel, I pretty much support Palestinians' quest to bomb the US. It isn't true that they would do the same for the rest of the Western world. Palestinians tend to have a high regard for countries who'll occasionally stand up for them, such as France and Norway. In any event, your hysterical tone suggests you haven't really met any Palestinians and can't really say what their opinions are. Trying to comment on things you don't understand -- typical American.
    .
    @NullNaught
    .
    Sure, they would recognize your marriage if you were NOT married in Israel. But then, if neither you nor your partner were Jewish, Israel wouldn't recognize it either -- in fact, it wouldn't even allow you on its soil as a resident. (Though they do welcome your dollar bills.) In any event, I think that, as some guy said above, the reasoning that your enemy's enemy is your friend is nonsensical when it comes to gay rights. Iraqis, too, could say that, since most gay Americans -- in line with the American society as a whole -- supported their illegal invasion of their country, they aren't forced to recognize LGBT rights. Yes, this is petty and imature, but that is how you're reasoning.

    Posted by: EYE | May 22, 2012 12:07:58 AM


  24. @Andrew
    .
    Considering your, your media and your government's support for Israel, I pretty much support Palestinians' quest to bomb the US. It isn't true that they would do the same for the rest of the Western world, though. Palestinians tend to have a high regard for countries who'll occasionally stand up for them, such as France and Norway. In any event, your hysterical tone suggests you haven't really met any Palestinians and can't really say what their opinions are. Trying to comment on things you don't understand -- typical American.
    .
    @NullNaught
    .
    Sure, they would recognize your marriage if you were NOT married in Israel. But then, if neither you nor your partner were Jewish, Israel wouldn't recognize it either -- in fact, it wouldn't even allow you on its soil as a resident. (Though they do welcome your tourist dollar bills.) In any event, I think that, as some guy said above, the reasoning that your enemy's enemy is your friend is nonsensical when it comes to civil rights. Iraqis, too, could say that, since most gay Americans -- in line with the American society as a whole -- supported their illegal invasion of their country, they aren't forced to recognize LGBT rights. Yes, this is petty and imature, but that is how you're reasoning. Human rights is not a "tit for tat" subject. Black South Africans can't deny their White countrymen's rights because of what was done to them during apartheid. Likewise, you can't deny Palestinians' property rights just because they haven't (yet) recognized LGBT couple's privacy rights. Don't forget that no country in the world is originally pro-gay. Every one has come through a path where myths and prejudices were evetually overthrown. I can't see why you deny that this may also apply to other peoples in the world apart from the Western ones.

    Posted by: EYE | May 22, 2012 12:12:20 AM


  25. @eye
    I don't share the same moral structure with you. I see ethical questions as really easthetic ones. I don't care about the rights of other people especially. My aesthetic sense says I like Israel because they are gay friendly compared with most countries. They had gays serving in there military I think nearly 2 decades before we did. No country is perfect. I am very happy to see Israel kick Palestinian in the teeth because Palestinian culture iss homophobic. I don't care about their people because they are not yet "evolved." When they recognize my rights, I will be on their side because they are the underdogs. I would not like Israel then because they would be one gay friendly people oppressing another gay friendly people and I could choose sides on other criteria.
    As long as the palestinians want to see me dead, I want to see all of them dead. :)

    Posted by: NullNaught | May 22, 2012 12:23:50 AM


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