August 3 in Jerusalem will host the annual «pride Parade» communities of sexual minorities. Before this event, editorial NEWSru.co.il interviewed essayist, philosopher, editor-in-chief of the journal «shiloah» Yoav Soraka. In the interview he talks about his relationship to the agenda of the LGBT community, its connection with the trends in modern society and the place of Israel in this discussion.
Talked Gabi Wolfson.
Yoav, you are one of the publicists, constantly addressing the question of the agenda of the LGBT community. Why you think this topic is so fundamental?
It is not in integrity. Family issues, marriage, forms of cohabitation of the people are basic, fundamental. And in this respect we can observe the changes that occur with record speed. The fact that only some fifty years ago it was almost illegal, and in any case, is blameworthy, is now considered normal, and Woe to those who dare to raise their voice against this phenomenon. Moreover, being in a religious environment, which seems to be obliged to follow certain values, I’m shocked to discover that there are many already feel uncomfortable defending the classical religious view can hardly not feel the need to apologize for it. You have to understand, and to some extent it concerns the subject matter that there is a conceptual mistake that leads to regulatory changes, serving some ideological agenda. And, paradoxically, many of those who say support the «pride parades» are not advocates of this ideological agenda, but, without realizing it, they promote it.
What kind of ideological agenda you say?
I’m talking about the culture of sexual liberalism and the almost complete permissiveness. This topic is of any conservative in the last hundred years.
In his analysis of this topic you repeatedly use the term «cultural war». Between whom is she going?
Between worldview that places at the forefront the realization of the desires of the individual and in the context of what we’re talking about, the ideology of sexual freedom and permissiveness – and the worldview that makes the individual the center of all that is not based on a narrative of individual rights, which believes that there is truth, not everything is relative and fluid. Speaking very roughly, we are talking about the aggressive conservatism vs liberalism, and the repulsion is not from the word liberal, and by erasing many important characteristics.
So there is a person on the one hand and the state on the other. All that is between them – family, community, gender, all erased, all amorphous. Culture sexual freedom has been present for many decades. In more open societies, less conservative. But only through the agenda of the LGBT community, she reflected on the level of laws, level of public recognition, received a much larger scale than previously.
What is the meaning you attach to the notion of sexual liberalism and permissiveness, which they say?
It is an approach that says that the only limitation of sexual freedom can be valid, only when it comes to causing direct damage to anyone. Everything else is permissible, legitimate, even positive. You know the expression «make love» and the whole folklore around him. And when I talk about a conceptual error, I mean that the supporters of this ideology was able to give it a hint of struggle for the rights of the oppressed and discriminated. Anyone with a conscience wants to help the oppressed and discriminated. But the point here is not that, and never was. The motive of the struggle for rights is used to promote normative and cultural changes in society which undermine the very foundations of institutions such as family, community and many others, shaping human society from the times of the Tanakh, one of the basic sources, allowing us to get away from permissiveness in the world, having borders. And what we see today is a kind of jet propulsion.
The source of your worldview Jewish or universal? Are you concerned about a departure from the Tanakh or the danger of sexual liberalism brings, as you suppose, the human society?
No doubt, the source of my philosophy, first and foremost, Jewish. But looking at how this issue applies to Thor, I get the perspective that allows you to look at it from a completely different place.
This requires some explanation.
In today’s public debate there is another approach, according to which the world is «straight» is «gay». And the dispute is between those who says it’s awful, should be forbidden, limited and in any case, we don’t want to see it, and between those who said that it must be legitimate as everything else.
I would argue that incorrect source platform discussion. This Western paradigm, born in the nineteenth century, when the principle was set, the concept of homosexuality. And when I read the TANAKH and see the texts that talked about it three thousand years ago, you get an unexpected perspective, allowing you to look differently at this issue. From the Torah we see, and by the way, this is confirmed by the historical facts that same-sex attraction is the basic state of human society. It is not something that characterizes a certain group of people.
I want to be sure that understand you correctly: you claim that same-sex attraction is peculiar to any person.
Exactly. Restrictions that lead to the fact that we tend to enter relationships with the opposite sex, is the result of socialization, originating in the Torah and runs the common thread in all cultures around the world.
So, you’re saying that same-sex attraction is not a deviation.
Of course. No «straights», not «perverts». All of these concepts is beyond my coordinate system. In this sense, it’s alien voice: «ugh, how disgusting». It’s not an abomination, it is a natural attraction. But I do not accept and those who say: «Let’s make it absolutely legitimate.»
It will not do, because it is forbidden, because there are reasons why the modern world is formed in such a way that we direct our sexual energy in relationships with the opposite sex.
The fact that such a desire is natural and it exists, doesn’t mean I have to approve it, to stimulate and create such strange family. To recognize the naturalness and give legitimacy – are completely different things. Attraction to a married woman is very common. Does anyone else think it’s weird. But realize that attraction is impossible.
In this case, to implement attraction is impossible, as it would be detrimental to the husband of the woman will destroy the family.
Stop. And if all agree, then? You start from the logic of sexual liberalism. But there is another logic that says that sexuality is sacred, goes to the very depths of the human personality concept. And the person is not entitled to do with it whatever he wants, just because at the moment I wanted him and I wanted her. No, it’s a much more complicated issue. And ethics of the Tanakh, the perceived world cultures for centuries, puts a lot of taboo on the implementation of the sexual drives. While the philosophical literature leads a very deep and interesting discussions about various aspects of sexual taboos, from the ban on visiting prostitutes to the prohibition of sex with a married woman. But nowhere do we see the allocation of people, violating certain restrictions in a separate group, turning them into vehicles of a particular sexual identity.
In the last hundred – hundred and fifty years became the dominant worldview that perceives these taboos as superfluous as such that need to be addressed to ensure that people felt free and happy. It seems to me that this is not justified, and people today, loyal to its traditional values, I can say that this experience has not brought benefits to mankind.
You claim that same-sex attraction is natural and common to all. In this case, as there was a ban on its implementation?
I will not take upon myself to say that I know for sure whole process of occurrence of this prohibition. But if we are talking about Jewish sources in the Talmud discusses the difference between men and women and men and men. There is a ban man and woman to be alone in a closed room. The Talmud is very clear that this prohibition does not apply to two men. They say that the absence of a ban due to the fact that the risk of intimate relations between two men does not exist. נחשדו במשכב ישראל לא זכר. In other words, when we are so deeply embraced this prohibition is that the area of relations between the two men was free from sexuality. And it is possible to create a vast world of deep, rich, if you want intimate, not sexually, between men, as we see in the Bible and other sources.
You are all the time talking about the relations between men. But there is a relationship between women. For them there is also the cultural prohibition of which you speak?
This is an interesting question. From the point of view of Jewish law, the relationship between women are perceived differently between men, and the prohibition less severe.
Because the Halacha assumes that the sexual act is something that man does. But we’re not talking about Halacha. Cultural, social point of view, this is unacceptable to the same extent that relations between men.
Why, Yoav? Why the relationship between two consenting adults in which there is no element of coercion, should be taboo?
This question you can ask about any system of sexual relations that are prohibited. Why taboo relationship between brother and sister? Why taboo relationship between an adult father and an adult daughter? Why taboo relationships between the man and the neighbor’s wife again, even if all three agree? This system of prohibitions is based on values that have no justification, except only one: the abolition of them creates havoc and corrupts society. Why? I can’t explain. But if we look at the history of human civilization, we see that every society forms a set of prohibitions, and if so, it probably makes sense.
That is, you’re not talking about the classic religious approach, according to which the man and woman are created for procreation and same-sex relationships the family does not continue and is therefore forbidden?
Of course not. Most of the restrictions generally relate to relationships with women: sister, married woman and so on. So the argument about «reproduction» in this case at anything. Besides, the Torah forbids to marry a woman who is not able for one reason or another have a baby.
The Torah, as I understand it, is not with aversion to sexuality as such and does not consider them as merely a means of procreation. It exists in Christian culture and mistakenly extrapolated to Judaism. The Torah does not recognize monastic renunciation of sexuality, but it imposes very strict limitations.
Unmotivated. This is because it is.
In the world there are people, some say up to 10% of humanity who experience attraction only to the same sex. Your approach is almost denies their right to exist. They do not, you say.
In practice, there are likely many people who are attracted only to the same sex, not the opposite. But then begins a lot of questions. Is it innate? It occurs in a particular cultural context? What would happen if modern society was given to this less of legitimation and not pushed to the Teens to ask themselves every day: «I straight? I’m gay?» Studies show that only a small percentage of those who call themselves gay, do not realize themselves in heterosexual relationships. In most cases we are talking about psychological and sociological manifestations. Therefore, in a society where these issues are being discussed from morning to evening, the number of those who call themselves gay, automatically grows.
Of course, you will answer me that before everyone was afraid to expose their sexual proclivities were afraid to «come out of the closet». I would argue that it’s not that people are just not engaged in continually checking to your preferences. Today, people hammered into your head that the world is divided into gay and straight. And a young man who feels attracted to his classmate, says «I am gay». No, that’s not to say that you’re gay. It says that you have a desire that has always existed, and you still have not overcome it. There are many reasons that can lead a person to this. We can talk about a man who struggles to have relationships with women. We can talk about a man whose libido is so strong that it pushes him to search for something that is beyond the boundaries of cultural norms instilled in him in childhood. The reasons can be mass.
By the way, where there is strict sexual segregation, frequent homosexual relations, as people direct their natural energy in the only available direction. In the 70-ies was the sensational Kinsey survey according to which 75% of people engage in same-sex relationships. The reasons can be mass, but they are often psychological or sociological. But today, and to provide psychological assistance in such cases was dangerous. Psychologists willing to work with people who want to overcome same-sex attraction, are at risk of obstruction. The psychologist must tell the person: «no, No, it’s all right, you don’t need help». But there are those who are willing to work with applicants in such cases. I talked to psychologists. One of them told me, without names of course, on the ward, who appealed, saying that there is no traction to the opposite sex and feels a strong attraction to men. Man lives in a religious environment, he understands that there is a problem, does not believe in the possibility of change, but willing to try. Believe me, the psychologist does not put him in the cave and not sent into the water. She worked with him the most conventional possible way. Elements of psychoanalysis to understand where a person has this tendency, the elements of behavioral (behavioral – approx.ed.) psychology. All of that is done in cases when a person wants to change their behavior. And people completely changed. I believe that the myth that a person so born and so to live his whole life in some societies to suffer, and some feel great, true to a very small number of people. A small number of people can’t form the agenda of the companies.
And what should society do? There are people, group of people, and not so small, which characterizes a certain way. You can like this or not, but there is a flow, movement, community. Society needs to ignore her, to pretend that these people don’t exist?
We proceed from different premises. I do not accept the concept of «these people». It assumes that there is a certain, defined group of people who demand equality.
They themselves determine.
When people ask me why I can marry, and someone else can not, I always answer that I also cannot marry a man and any man can marry a woman. There is no difference in the rights and there is no difference between people. I do not accept the assertion that someone being being «alpha» and who is «beta». He and I are the same.
But he does not think so, and in this case it is important.
His approach is the result of brainwashing and agenda that attacks society from many different perspectives. I agree that today, it is difficult to imagine another position, it is extremely difficult to fight when it is clear that the reality is one – there are straights and gays, gay is a certain minority that should have the right. Point. Very difficult to deal with. Fight not against the granting of the rights, the rights issue is secondary. To fight against the approach. But struggle is necessary and because there are so many people who are suffering, being under the influence of this public discourse. So the attraction becomes almost the main formative personality trait, in something which is not clear and needs to be turned into a motive of social struggle.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not consider it necessary to intervene in what is happening in the bedroom of people. Homosexuality was never meant to be a criminal offense or subject to prosecution. But there is a huge difference between non-interference in people’s private lives and introducing in the curriculum of lessons which explain that there are different types of families, or promotion struggles of various projects, to ensure that the child could have two fathers.
Economic rights, these couples should have?
Possible. Although in the same way, the government can provide the economic rights of any pair rented an apartment together. If the economic rights that the state provides, is a form of Declaration that it supports the institution of the family, I do not believe that the granting of such rights in this case contributes to this goal. You can say that the state should not interfere in such issues as family and private lives, and I, as a semi-libertarian will say, fine. The less the government intervenes in anything, the better.
Including the institution of marriage.
Yes. There are things that perforce must be defined. If a person wants to after the death of his wife has inherited, he needs to fix it with the help of the legal system of the state. But the less intervention, the better. On the other hand, if the government takes over such functions as the initiation of fertility, the preservation of the family institution and the preservation of other traditional conservative values, it should do it the traditional conservative way, not the content of these concepts each day for new content.
From what you say I conclude that you do not deny the possibility that someday Israel will have to register the marriage between two men.
It may very well be. Frankly, I’m not very worried. Maybe, maybe not. I’m much more concerned about the fact that people are pushing in the direction of a self-determination which is imposed, and brings them damage. Many people inflicted real damage. I’m not talking about what this debate is about in the light of the world of the Torah. If we are talking about the fact that the ban exists not for the fact that society was better, but in order to suppress and discriminate against a certain group of people, the Torah and those who believe in it, immediately be in the camp of «bad,» «forces of darkness» and so on, at a time like this there is no reason and justification.
What do you think, does the state of Israel a special role in this debate?
Should be. But this is a very serious question, the answer to which is hidden in the dilemma about what a Jewish state and what is its function. Do we want only to live in silence, alone and freed from persecution, or we, as in my opinion, like the creators, I want to be what is called a light to other Nations. I certainly believe that Jewish values are not something that can only stay in our property. I, as a Jew, it prevents, for example, that we sell weapons to questionable regimes, who use it for mass murder. In the same way bothers me that tel Aviv was the most friendly city to LGBT culture, which, in my opinion, is an expression of the destruction of the foundations of human civilization. It messes me up. I don’t live in tel Aviv and can’t impose their ideas. All I can do is Express a different point of view, offer a different set of values and normative cultural assumptions. I understand that there will be those who will pay the price if the traditionally conservative values will prevail, but I believe that ultimately this is clearly to the benefit of the whole society.
Many will compare your reasoning with what you say in Iran. Some of our readers mentioned without a doubt and what we hear about what is happening in Chechnya. The restriction of rights and the like.
Those who say it, not understand the main difference. In the mentioned societies and cultures recognize the existence of a difference between people who declare their disgust, hatred and fear of these manifestations, and are inherently homophobic. What I say, not only homophobia, but on the contrary – we are all in the same boat. We are the same. Homosexuality is not a perversion, not a deviation, but a human desire. It just can’t be realized. I know that there are a lot of things are forbidden, that people do not believe that we should fight with each phenomenon. But in this case, we are talking about deliberate substitution of concepts. On the premise that in the world there is a group of people, no matter how big it is – 7%, 10%, it does not matter, who are exposed to discrimination, in the public consciousness is implanted a belief in the cultural, regulatory changes. You will not find any religious person who will come to the demonstration under the slogans «Let us not observe Shabbat». And to participate in the pride parades in Jerusalem is not only possible, but according to many and need to, as it served as fight for the rights of discriminated and humiliated people. At that time, as we are talking about something else entirely – we are talking about the existence of certain restrictions, and in any society, someone is paying a higher or lower price for the existence of the restrictions.
And you are asking people to pay the price. That is, to abandon the sense of achievement in this area, because they can be happy only in this system of relations, which you call is prohibited.
This is not so.
I think your original position is wrong.
Somewhat problematic to try to define for other people how and in what relationship they can be happy. Don’t you agree?
Tell me, if tomorrow a person will come and say that he can only be happy in a relationship with my sister. Why not? Many now say that it is legitimate. And there we go. A few weeks ago in one of the Latin American countries (Colombia – approx. ed.) , three men were asked to register their as a family. I don’t see any rational motive in accordance with the approach of sexual liberalism, to prohibit such. There is no reason to deny the relationship of father and daughter, two adults who, say, have not been living together and are not going to have children. Why not? That is, gays in this case is not the topic of discussion. They reason that it is used to clothe the universal sexual liberalism in the clothes of the struggle for rights, elimination of discrimination, and so on. This is one of the strongest and most successful trends of recent decades. Brilliant start-up.
It exists by itself or part of deeper processes of change in human society?
It is clear that this is part of a very aggressive cultural offensive, the leaders of which have transformed the agenda of the LGBT community in one of the main banners. There is a set of absolute commandments that unknown God gave us, the violation of which has become almost a criminal offense. And these commandments are in sharp conflict with the cultural traditions of any society. There is an attempt to erase the cultural traditions in the name of total universalization. Imagination John Lennon incarnate before our eyes. There are the individual is humanity. No people, no communities, no nothing.
Once Zionism proclaimed the value of Jewish labor on the land and liberation from dependence on the Arabs. Today, a man declaring that he would prefer to hire a Jew to promote Jewish labor, detained on suspicion of racism and discrimination on a national basis. Yes, we state, we are the majority, I understand the difficulty of everything. But just to show how altered scale of values.
Let’s talk about «pride parades». You called them religious ritual.
Only tel Aviv.
You share, say, tel Aviv and Jerusalem?
Of course. In tel Aviv weeks before the event, decorate the streets, the municipality declares that the city festival is that tel Aviv is showing the world. And the parade there is very provocative and loud.
But in Jerusalem?
In Jerusalem it’s different. There is an attempt to say «We also exist». Jerusalem is much more religious and conservative town, and so there is a parade said, «We here have the right to March». Again, I’m not in awe of the fact that such events are held, as from my point of view, as I said, this idealization is causing harm to many people.
Do you think that in Jerusalem such parades should be banned?
I’m against the ban on parades. Everyone should have the right to demonstrate what he wants. I think that the form in which parades take place today in Jerusalem, where they are restricted to one area, create a provocation, that’s fine, respectable and acceptable. But I would be happy if people realize that this agenda is harmful, it brings the damage in the first place by himself.
You don’t think are fighting a losing battle? The number of religious people involved in the «pride parades» is growing. On the other hand, the U.S. Supreme court, are very conservative in their composition, has recognized same-sex marriages. Maybe the war is already lost?
Perhaps if we look no further than 20 years ahead.
What will happen in 20 years?
First, I believe that the true idea in the end win. But there are processes that go on by themselves now. In the acronym LGBT added Q. What is the Q is queer (weird or a doubter, in this context, this term describes people who do not belong to any identified group – approx. ed.). Q – that’s what I say all the time: sexual identification is fluid, it changes over the years, it changes depending on life circumstances and the weight of other factors. Q and strikes at the remaining components of abbreviations – G, L, B, T. Q says that people don’t have to be defined. They can be all sorts, and to a large extent it is a choice and only part of the realization of human freedom. As is often the case when something is taken to extremes, it can have the most unexpected twist.
In addition, when you talk about losing the fight, ignore the fact that history is moving pretty quickly and has a pendulum effect. The national idea recently was considered dead, and here she is alive and is growing rapidly. In Europe there is a demographic crisis is largely due to sexual liberalism, ideas of self-realization at the expense of childbearing and so on. In Israel the situation is slightly different, and this is largely due to the fact that our society is more conservative and traditional. In General, I don’t know what will be the outcome, I think the fight has just erupted. But in the US people who hold conservative views, I believe that the fight was lost.
Despite the coming to power of trump?
I was talking on this subject until the election of a trump, so I don’t know. But in General I don’t think political leaders have so much influence on the situation. Can be represent certain moods. No more.
You don’t wear a yarmulke, but are well-known figure in the religious Zionist environment. You had to speak with religious gays?
I don’t like the definition, as you know, but to answer your question: Yes, repeatedly spoke at meetings of mutual support groups that organize these communities.
How you take it?
Different. It is clear that many are angry with me, because people pay a high price for this identity, and when they say it is nothing, the reaction is very sharp. But there are those who come in and say that I opened the door for them, which they do not see. One young man honestly said that he was confident in his homosexuality because of some fantasies that he had. And no one, no one explained to him that the imagination has not yet put it in a specific cell, does not make him gay. It is no coincidence he did this is not explained. There is a change of cultural codes, regulatory changes, for which the Commission is engaged state. And it starts with kindergarten, elementary grades, where students have to tell about the different types of families and so on. Why it is imposed by programs of the Ministry of education? Because otherwise conservative educators do not tell the children. This is an attempt at using the state to carry out a cultural revolution. It is not a struggle for rights. It is a struggle for official recognition in symbols, that is, regulatory changes, and as a means in this struggle, attracted the motive of asserting one’s rights.
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