Let's get beyond name-calling

The latest decision on gay couples is encouraging - unity, not divisiveness is what's needed.

gay pride rally 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
gay pride rally 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Finally the rainbow flag is being proudly raised in Israel. Tuesday's decision by the High Court of Justice which orders the Ministry of Interior to register same-sex couples legally married abroad as couples should now lead the way for civil union. It's a concept which exists in Canada, Britain and elsewhere. MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) take note. You and many other religious people neglect to realize that many gay couples are practicing Jews and you take the moral high ground on how Jewish gays should live their lives. Looking back over the past few weeks, I couldn't help but notice that religious fanatics - not gays - were setting fires and rioting to get what they want. Get the hint - the rest of Israel (and the Jewish world) supports freedom of choice. It's about time you respected others' ability to choose just as you expect the rest of Israel to respect your neighborhoods - through moderate dress, for instance, as we're reminded every time one enters a haredi neighborhood. This is the message that must get through: Jews need to compromise and get on, or else we leave ourselves looking like fools. It can no longer be the Orthodox versus the secular. Today, it has to be simply the Jewish people - with differences but united. We live in the only Jewish state, the only place where we are the majority. It is time we move on from inexcusable, bigoted behavior and accept our differences. I SPENT numerous weekends in Tel Aviv and it was amazing. I saw Orthodox Jews going about their Shabbat lifestyles while secular Jews went about theirs - relaxing by the beach, in a restaurant or caf . That kind of coexistence is the perfect template for the rest of Israel. Obviously, there has to be sensitivity - about Shabbat traffic and so on - to the special needs and sensibilities of the haredim. But when you force respect of your beliefs, you belittle yourself - religious folk would have gained an awful lot more respect (not to mention affection) would they not coerce their standards on neighboring communities. As a Jew, I have lived in the Diaspora and I am currently a resident of Jerusalem. I have come here to see what I can make of life in Israel. I am disgusted when I see some religious Jews looking down at their fellow Jews, making a fuss over where one sits in order not to sit next to a man, or a woman. I understand the reasoning but I don't like the manner in which it is often done. BUT I adore the attitudes of other religious and secular Jews who talk on the bus like there's no tomorrow, and offer their helping hand to mothers with heavy strollers, or hold a baby while mother pays the driver or pays for mother and child while they sit comfortably. I love the way I can talk to anyone without fear of abuse. I love the diversity of languages and the diverse ideas of people. This is the Israel the world should see. This Israel is one that steals the title off Thailand as "the land of smiles" - this is our future and it lies in new ideas and the next generation of Israel. We need to start embracing that new Israel now. I come from a family that is diverse - from secular to haredi. We extend from Breslov Hassidim to modern Orthodox to Reform. Organized religion has to be in touch with the people. The Orthodox community would do well to follow in the footsteps of those of its leaders who want to open doors, not slam them shut. Judaism is our religion, it belongs to all of us. Everything is discussed. When have you met a Jew without three opinions? At the end of the day, Jews need to support one another - so why not make that sooner rather than later? The writer, from Birmingham, England is a Jerusalem Post intern.