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Sunday, December 12, 2010

What Roger Cohen didn't tell you

Some of you might have seen Roger Cohen's latest J Street sob story on Friday. Yes, it's terrible that the mainstream Jewish community is unable to accept a Soros-funded bunch of stooges for the Obama administration no matter how many times they claim to be pro-Israel. And if we don't think it's terrible, Roger Cohen will keep writing about it anyway - when he's not busy propping up the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran.

Here's how Cohen described what 'happened' to Ira Stup:
Ira Stup was raised in Philadelphia attending Jewish day school and camps. He found his home in the Jewish community and was “intoxicated with Jewish democracy” as framed in the ideals of Israel’s foundation. Now he has returned deeply troubled from a one-year fellowship based in Tel Aviv.

The worst single incident occurred on Ben Yehuda Street in central Jerusalem. Stup, 24, a Columbia graduate, was returning from a rally with a couple of friends carrying a banner that said, “Zionists are not settlers.” A group of religious Jews wearing yarmulkes approached, spat on them and started punching.

“About 20 people saw the whole thing and just watched. They were screaming, ‘You are not real Jews.’ Most of them were American. It was one of the most disappointing moments of my life — you can disagree as much as you want with a banner but to allow violence and not react is outrageous. For me it was a turning point. Nobody previously had said I was not a real Jew.”
Anyone who lives in Jerusalem or has spent any time in Jerusalem knows how implausible this story is. When did it happen? Where in Jerusalem did it happen? Where were the police? (They're everywhere in this city). Perhaps a little of Ira Stup's background will help us solve the mystery.

Ira Stup was a JTS student in the joint program with Bir Zeit on the Hudson who graduated in 2009 (Hat Tip: David K). He's also openly gay. We'll get to why that's relevant in a minute. And he's now employed by J Street U as East Coast coordinator (which Cohen buries at the very end of his article, when it was an important enough fact to be up front).

Here's what Stup has to say about the acceptance of gays in Israel in general and in Jerusalem in particular.
According to Ira Stup, Columbia College ’09 and member of Gayava, a group dedicated to promoting LGBT Jewish life both on campus and in the city as a whole, the social situation for the community within Israel varies upon location. In some places such as Tel Aviv, Stup explains, being “out” can be relatively easy. The city government provides services for the LGBT community. Moreover, there are a number of businesses that cater to the LGBT lifestyle. As British journalist Chas Newkey Burden puts it, “Tel Aviv has a fine gay scene with a number of bars, clubs, saunas, and gay sex shops on its streets.” Also, Tel Aviv has had an annual gay pride parade since 1998, which runs relatively smoothly each year.

Yet in Jerusalem, however, being “out” can prove very difficult. Jerusalem’s sizable Orthodox Jewish population voices intense hostility to homosexuality, and Jerusalem’s annual gay pride parade is a constant point of contention between the Jerusalem Open House, Jerusalem’s lead LGBT advocacy group, and religious authorities. In a tragic example of how much animosity the LGBT community faces in Jerusalem, Time magazine noted that in a “near–miraculous occurrence,” Jerusalem’s Christian, Muslim, and Jewish leaders—so often at odds—actually agreed to collaborate on one issue: intense opposition to the gay pride parade. Thus, while Israel certainly does have laws that provide for the acceptance of LGBT community, certain sectors of Israeli society still demonstrate a great deal antagonism to the community.
Some of my friends have been looking at some videos all evening. The sign that Cohen describes doesn't show up on any of the videos from the gay pride rally that took place in July in Jerusalem. Of course not, it wasn't relevant. But it does show up in a rally that took place on May 15 in Jerusalem's Zion Square. That rally was a call for Israel's Zionist Left to come back to life. It was the first and last event of its kind - a far bigger dud than the story I just linked made it out to be. Could it be that Stup took part in both rallies and that he was 'attacked' for not being a 'real Jew' after the gay pride rally, but Cohen attributed the attack to the earlier rally? That's far more plausible knowing the way this city works. And it would also explain why it wasn't reported for the last four months or more.

In any event, the best answer I've seen to Roger Cohen's article came in an email from Elliott G:
Stup doesn't want people to say "you are not real Jews." But he can say that certain other people "are not real Zionists." He wants to be able to assign labels and remove labels. But nobody can do it to him. By opposing settlements he can be considered to be opposing the civil, human and national rights of Jews to live beyond the 1949 armistice lines, whereas the Jewish National Home designated by the League of Nations [1922] included Judea-Samaria, Jerusalem, etc.

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At 2:37 AM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Is his name really Ira STUP???

At 2:58 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

No one thinks much of making certain Jews second-class citizens based solely on where they happen to live.

Just don't call it apartheid!

At 5:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I can see why Orthodox would be upset about people trying to import a "LGBT lifestyle" to Jerusalem of all places. Yes, lettuce, bacon, and tomato sandwiches with garnishing might be tasty to a "Hellenist" who doesn't mind snacking out on high treife, but why would anyone think this would be acceptable in Jerusalem? After all the scandals over "white meat" you'd think these Anglo Saxon implants would know better.


At 2:15 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

There is such chitter chatter in the JStreet (and other left side) groups about things they list as bad for the LGBT community. And they stand so solidly with the Obami, claiming that the (D)s are "better" somehow on this issue. However, Obama himself was a campaigner for Odinga in Kenya, and the US govt spent millions of US taxpayer money campaigning for a Kenyan constitution that brings sharia law (with its LGBT death penalties) to that majority non-Muslim country. Seriously LGBT supporters... how on earth can you support these people over the alternative?


(PS this reminds me that one of the commenters said that Odinga said the same thing in a commencement speech at the 2009 Buffalo Law School SUNY graduation. We need a video of this speech. I'll try again to get one).


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