Grumpy Old Man: Stuck in the middle with you

"Intersectionality" is creating strange bedfellows on the fringes, but on occasion, in the center, too.

An activist waves an LGBT flag near Israel's Knesset building (photo credit: REUTERS)
An activist waves an LGBT flag near Israel's Knesset building
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I feel sorry for Israel’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
It’s getting hit from all sides, and for all the wrong reasons (not that there are any right reasons).
It reminds me of one of the verses from the 1972 Stealers Wheel million-seller: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right....”
For the clowns, there is Chicago, where the National LGBTQ Task Force recently held its annual conference, this year called Creating Change. It was to include a program hosted by A Wider Bridge, which seeks to link Jewish-American LGBTQs with their counterparts in Israel.
There were to be speakers from Jerusalem’s Open House, which serves the city’s LGBTQ community.
But American LGBTQs from the extreme Left, no doubt knowing pinkwashing when they saw it, had a bright rainbow cow and pressured the Task Force into canceling the program – whereby Jewish LGBTQs gathered their balls (or whatever they call them) and fought back, leading the Task Force to reinstate the program, albeit away from the conference venue.
In the end, the extremists, who included members of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity – no doubt a powerful force for change in the Arab world – marched on the site of the program, with some members rushing the podium and forcing the Israeli speakers to flee out a side door.
So much for tolerance and acceptance among LGBTQs. So much for creating change.
Now for the jokers, with word that Israeli right-wingers are going after members of the country’s LGBTQ community, although under the guise of a more popular campaign against the group calling itself Breaking the Silence, whose members, ex-soldiers all, allege cases of bad behavior within the ranks of the IDF to further their quest to end the occupation.
It seems that one Shamai Glick, who has mounted a personal and quite noisy crusade against Breaking the Silence, is now going after its executive-director, Yuli Novak, by saying that if he can’t get her stifled, he’ll crash her upcoming wedding to her partner, Anat Manielevitch.
Something tells me that intersectionality – under which LGBTQs, feminists, trade unionists, angry African Americans and many on the loopy Left find common cause with the darkest forces in the Middle East and rage at Israel for crimes that have nothing at all to do with the issues under their purview – is now taking root on the Right, including here. That’s where activists who despise people who despise the occupation compare notes with jackbooted misogynists from Lehava and murderous homophobes like Yishai Schlissel to invade the personal and private spaces of people merely because of disagreements over politics.
Where is Likud MK Amir Ohana when you need him? PERHAPS YOU’RE new to the world of intersectionality.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary doesn’t have it, going no farther than “intersection” or “intersectional.” But the apparently more erudite Oxford English Dictionary does, defining it as the “interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.”
(Interestingly, Google’s auto-complete function brings up “intersectionality” ahead of “intersection,” so it’s clear that there are a lot more people interested in radical social theory than in road planning.) The word – or term, seeing as there’s disagreement in the dictionary industry – has its roots in the feminist movement, where, way back in the late 1960s, “revisionist feminists” challenged the prevailing assumption that the problem in feminist identity was merely gender oppression.
No, the revisionists said, there were intersections with other areas of oppression, areas including race, socioeconomics and disability, among others.
It was like a taxonomist finding out that there were divisions beyond mere domains, phyla, genera and species, and that, like an anthropological food processor, communities could be further reduced to the most micro of identities and belief sets (which is, I guess, why we now have “micro-aggressions”), and then discovering that, being so numerous, these identities and belief sets inevitably crossed paths, often creating completely new spheres of obsession and additional excuses for hatred, loathing and disgust.
It’s what brings out gays to stand shoulder to shoulder with gay-hating Islamists in the fight against Israeli oppression of Palestinians. After all, gays are oppressed and Palestinians are oppressed. So, my limp-wristed friend, I’m from Hamas – we’ve got a lot in common.
It’s what brings low-income American whites who could use some cheap, government- issue health insurance together with super-rich American whites who oppose any form of government assistance.
Both fear or loathe minorities, migrants, abortionists and gun control supporters.
So Joe Trailer Park, meet Donald Trump (or better yet, meet Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers).
Right here where we live, it’s what brings together accountants and anarchists, Jaffa Arabs and Reform Jews at anti- government protests. It’s what brings together kippa-clad youths and thoroughly secular right-wingers at rallies in support of the shrimp-eating but settlement- friendly Benjamin Netanyahu.
And it allows the reverse, where a person espouses views on a certain issue, but not because of the reasons you’d expect.
For example, Borderlife, by Dorit Rabinyan, is about a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man. It was removed from a list of titles recommended for use by high-school literature teachers because the Education Ministry official in charge cited “large segments of society” that might see the novel as “a threat to a separate identity.” You know, like impure bloodlines.
After a noisy enough uproar over censorship – backed by statistics placing the number of Jews marrying Arabs each year as being, at worst, equal to the number of the average person’s fingers and toes – the ministry more or less backed down. But when our education minister went on TV to discuss the matter, he played it smart.
The kippa-clad Naftali Bennett knew very well that the touchy subject of inter- confessional love was the playground of Lehava’s brownshirts. So when Channel 2 anchor Danny Kushmaro pressed him, he justified the partial ban because the novel “placed the IDF in a bad light” – because, you know, right now, dealing with Breaking the Silence is more important than dealing with intermarriage, at least in the eyes of Yossi “The Whole World Hates Us” Israeli, whose vote Bennett would like, but can’t be assured of.
THIS IS what has helped polarize us here, diminishing the force of the political Center and the moderate Left and Right, and bringing strange bedfellows together in places much closer to the fringes.
But not entirely, as I, a straight male, can empathize with our Zionist-leaning LGBTQs by finishing that Stealers Wheel verse: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”