Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Uncomfortable Reading

The following 3 topics are not related, but all 3 of them are important reading.

They may make you feel uncomfortable, so you're hereby warned in advance.

1. Chana (from The Curious Jew Blog) transcribed a fascinating evening last night at Yeshiva University, "Being Gay In The Orthodox World: A Conversation with Members of the YU Community"
Tonight, December 22, 2009, the YU Tolerance Club and Wurzweiler School of Social Work hosted an event entitled "Being Gay in the Orthodox World: A Conversation with Members of the YU Community." I transcribed the event so that those who do not know any homosexual people or who were unable to make it could have the opportunity to learn a little bit about the choices people must make when in that situation.

Now more than ever I want it to be clear that this is as accurate a transcription as I could render but there definitely are parts that are missing. This is not verbatim. It is unofficial. It would be wrong to treat every word as divine. Any and all mistakes are mine. I would like to offer a forum for people to learn and to discuss, but not a forum for people to bash, malign or otherwise hurt others. Names have been changed and that is deliberate. Do not reveal the identity of anyone associated with this event; if I've changed the name it was purposeful. Do not quote from this article for any official purpose; contact the people who spoke if you wish to quote them.
The subject of Orthodox Gay Jews is very heated, debated, criticized and shunned.

Rabbi Blau pointed out very clearly at the onset of the evening:
"It’s not an occasion for debating halakha, for making halakhic suggestions. The halakha as expressed explicitly in the Torah and in the Chachamim is clear to everyone here. And this is not what we’re here to discuss and I’m making the point in the sense that if someone does try to discuss halakha, I will ask them to stop. It’s not appropriate in the context of what we’re doing. Secondly, as far as the various psychological theories and interpretations and shifts in the APA statements about homosexuality, again, this is not the forum for that discussion."
Read it all here.

2. These was a lot of clamor this past summer when a Swedish newspaper published a slanderous article claiming the Israeli army kidnapped and killed young Palestinians to harvest their organs. That odious claim is patently false.

However, Israel does have its share of monsters in the closet -- primarily Dr. Yehuda Hiss.

ABC news ran the following story yesterday:
Israel's military has admitted forensic pathologists once harvested organs from dead bodies - both Israeli and Palestinian - without the permission of their families.

Four months ago Israel threatened legal action against a Swedish newspaper which published claims that Israeli soldiers had killed Palestinians to harvest their organs.

But now, Israeli television has broadcast part of an interview with the former head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute who has acknowledged pathologists did harvest heart valves, skin, corneas and bones from Israeli soldiers and civilians, Palestinians and foreign workers.

Responding to the TV interview, the Israeli military confirmed the practice took place, but said it ended in 2000.

There is no evidence to support the Swedish claim that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians expressly for their organs.

Everyone knew 10 years ago that Hiss was harvesting organs from everyone who ended up at Abu-Kabir. It wasn't against Palestinians...but directed at anyone unlucky enough to end up there. Jews, Christians, and Arabs alike.

How Hiss remains at the Abu Kabir forensic institute is a mystery -- probably because he knows the truth about far too many things that certain Israeli politicians would prefer the public does not know about.

3. Israel is home for the Jewish people. Other countries may offer refuge or even a place to prosper, but at the end of the day, you may love New York, but Israel is home.

That's what makes the following story so disturbing.
Three years ago a family from Miami moved to Israel, realizing a lifelong dream. But today, their faith in the state lies in tatters, following what the family says is a litany of nightmarish abuses, blunders and oversights allegedly committed by police and the Prisons Service against their 17-year-old son.

The family members, residents of Karmiel, asked to remain anonymous to protect their son from further suffering.

The teenager, S., was beaten by police after being arrested last month, his family alleges. He was then brutally gang-raped repeatedly by juvenile inmates at a maximum security prison facility near Haifa, according to an indictment filed by Haifa state prosecutors last week against three suspects. The charge sheet details how the youths allegedly used a copper wire to pierce S.'s ear to mark him as their "slave." (Read it all here at the Jerusalem Post)

Israel's police for the most part, is an embarrassment. Despite the extremely important work they do, the police are viewed with contempt by many.

Police cars routinely (and illegally) violate traffic laws while not on official business. Israel's police views itself above the law -- and if you try bringing their behavior to their attention, expect a trip to a police station (at best).

The above story is frightening, and people need to be aware that Israel's police can be extremely dangerous to a citizen's well being.

Bad things can happen everywhere -- but its even more distressing when it happens at home.

Going to Israel?
Now get 2 phones for the price of 1 (and free calls too) with Talk'n'Save.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Michael Sedley said...

I saw the Jerusalem Post article yesterday.
It disturbed me greatly.

I am sure that there is police and prison brutality in other countries, but something as shocking as that article really shook me.

As my kids approach teenage years it makes me wonder what advise I should give them if they ever have to deal with the Police.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Michael: Tell them to stay away from the police -- they are not here "to protect and serve."

Treppenwitz wrote about the disturbing article yesterday.

Worth a read.

Lurker said...

Michael Sedley: As my kids approach teenage years it makes me wonder what advise I should give them if they ever have to deal with the Police.

Jameel: Tell them to stay away from the police -- they are not here "to protect and serve."

That's what I tell my kids, too: Avoid the police as much as is reasonably possible. I have witnessed more than enough Israeli police brutality against helpless, innocent people, and I therefore urge my kids to steer clear of them.

Jeremy said...

It's a problem in the system of government that affects a lot of things in Israel.

The police are national police (as opposed to what you have in the states where each city has its own police force, the state has its troopers, and the national government has the office of the ag). That in itself is not bad, as they should still be held accountable, except for the fact that on a national politician's to-do list, they rank extremely low. After the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the economy, the divides in Israeli society, etc etc etc, who's going to vote a national politician in or out based on the conduct of the police?

Michael Sedley said...

Advising kids to avoid the police makes sense (unfortunately), but that advise wouldn't have helped the kid in the story who was arrested for a minor offence and then beaten.

Should my kid have a run-in with the law, what should I tell him to do?
cooperate? shout and demand a lawyer? call the media? take photos of each officer he encounters and their ID number and send them to me, or someone else?

What should the kid in the JPost story have done after his arrest?
Is there anything that he or his parents could have done which would have prevented the abuse?
Who could the father have called? The Minister for Police? The Media? The mayor of his town? - who is out there looking out for us little guys?

not an oleh said...

I just cancelled my aliya plans. What a truly sick society Israel has created. People get the government agencies they deserve.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

no at oleh: That's probably the dumbest comment I've seen.

Tell me, have you canceled your plans to keep kosher when you found out about Rubashkins?

Maybe you should cancel your tzedaka plans after finding out about the Spinka Rebbe?

Or Maybe you should avoid Jews altogether since R' Leib Tropper from Monday is soliciting in exchange for giyur?

Bad things happen need to be aware of them and dont stick your head in the sand.

Michael: I dont have a good answer for you. I'll ask some policemen I know for advice (some of the decent policemen).

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