Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Muslims and Jews-- Agreement at Last!

At last— common ground! Jewish and Muslim leaders in Jerusalem have finally found something they can agree upon, something upon which they can perhaps forge a lasting alliance.

What is this breakthrough commonality? Could it be that they recognize that each worships the same God? Or that both recognize humans as God’s children worthy of love and respect regardless of religion?

No. What these wise sages have in common is a shared hatred of homosexuals. Israel’s chief rabbinate, itself an institution marked by division, issued a statement endorsed by both Chief Rabbis, that labeled Israel’s homosexuals “the lowest of people.” This in a land known for homicide bombers!

The statement said that “Everyone from toddlers to the elderly” would take to the streets to protest the “abomination that is desecrating Israel’s name throughout the nations.”

What sparked this outpouring of religious wisdom is Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade. This parade is, in the words of Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, is a criminal act and “not an ordinary crime, but a very severe outburst.”

For me the severe outburst is the two weeks of Ultra-Orthodox rioting against the parade. For me the crime is injuring dozens of police officers trying to quell the riots. But then I don’t believe in the homophobic God of these great men.

I am sick and tired of the idolatry that passes for religion. Where are the true prophets who speak for God, justice, and compassion? Where are the voices of authentic Judaism that call the people to love their neighbor even if they disagree with the way their neighbor loves?

Calling gays and lesbians “the lowest of people” disrespects God and God’s creation. Homophobia may be the “canary in the mine” warning others that holders of such views are not holy people.

I am embarrassed by my Chief Rabbis and appalled by their Judaism. I hope I am not alone.

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