(May 10, 2015 / JNS)
Something disturbing recently happened that slipped right past pro-Israel advocates. Mati Weiderpass is a fervent ally of Israel who happens to be gay. He hosted a discussion in his Manhattan home with Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), who is a staunch ally of Israel—very strong on Iran and other issues of utmost importance to those of us who care about Israel.
In the aftermath of the discussion, Weiderpass and his businesses are being boycotted by extremists in the LGBT community for daring to host an event with Cruz. While the LGBT community generally opposes Cruz and his views, for all Americans, there are many issues that matter. Thankfully, for the pro-Israel community, Weiderpass cares about Israel.
There’s an indefensible hypocrisy with groups such as Palestinian Queers for BDS or Queers for Palestine and their ilk, who could easily and legally stand in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv proclaiming who they are and what that stand for, but if they stood in the center of Ramallah (or most any of the 22 Arab nations) they would likely end up being hanged even if they shared the commonality of Jew-hatred with their would-be killers. Why LGBT advocates would turn on Israel, which hosts an annual gay pride parade through its streets, and is a pluralistic democracy where freedoms vastly similar to those here in the U.S. reign supreme, is vexing at the very least— duplicitous is more like it.
Still, the issue here is not about gays who do not support Israel as much as it is about gays who feel that a fellow advocate made an irredeemable error in dining and talking with the likes of Cruz. To those who oppose him, Cruz may seem antagonistic, small-minded, and archaic. But he is not a murderer, nor does he lead a repressive regime. He is a powerful U.S. senator and presidential candidate who aligns with Tea Party ideals—which means he is a champion of constitutional freedoms and rights, sternly supports Israel, and is against the idea of gay marriage. Yet believes that states should have the ultimate right to decide on marriage laws, not the federal government. One may think that there should always be room for discussion and debate with a senator.
Weiderpass is a wealthy supporter of a safe and secure Israel. He has been outspoken against Iran, which is a danger to America and Israel. Homosexuality is punishable by jail or death in Iran. Why is the rest of the LGBT community silent on this issue? Weiderpass hosted an event primarily on foreign policy, and to support the GOP’s Israel strategy. (He apparently also raised the issue of gay marriage.)
For that, Weiderpass is now the subject of attacks, boycotts, and immense ridicule. How small-minded. Does the LGBT community not care that homosexuals are being hung Iran, or have concern about the fact that throughout the Arab world, homosexuals are in danger?
In 1999, a group of gay Christians went to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, to meet with Jerry Falwell to push for gay acceptance. Instead of being vilified, they were applauded by the LGBT community for their activism in trying to lobby for a cultural shift in attitudes. The university was protested by the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which thought Falwell was being too kind for agreeing to meet with them. Salon magazine even described the meeting as a “love-fest.” How times have changed.
Perhaps the real issue comes down to Israel. Advocates of the Jewish state should stand up and show Weiderpass, this fellow advocate, that someone is willing to stand with him in support of his rights, his energy, and his willingness to be daring enough to fight for what he believes.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR and author of PR book “For Immediate Release.”