Saturday, September 18, 2010

Why do (some) gays buy into Israel Derangement Syndrome?

Michael Totten posted on Madrid gay pride blocking an Israeli float as a case of Israel Derangement Syndrome, pointing out that Israel is the only country in the entire Middle East where it's not a crime to be gay, yet the organizers of the gay pride festival in Madrid forbade the municipality of Tel Aviv from sponsoring the float it had planned.

Commenter Adelard Lindsey at that post wanted to understand how this cognitive dissonance of implicitly or explicitly allying with people who want gays dead worked. I posted a response to his excellent question, which this post is an extension of.

Part of the reason is that many gays see "progressive" sentiment as their necessary allies, so buy into the whole kit-and-caboodle to show they "belong". There is also a tendency to be for what those opposing equal rights are against.

There are prominent dissenters in whole or part: Bruce Bawer and Peter Tatchell, for example. There is also something of a network of right-of-centre gay bloggers who are pro-Israel: but they also dissent from the whole "progressives are our friends so we have to support the entire progressivist package" approach.

Since gays are also, for obvious reasons, conscious of, and focused on, problems in their own societies, they are also more than normally inclined to the "focus on Western sins first" approach. Now, that has big problems with it, as I discuss here. But you can see the temptation.

Micha's comment, as an Israeli involved in the "Peace Now" movement, on my post I linked to above, is a revealing personal witness statement about common outlooks. Which links back to buying into a progressivist paradigm which ends up using Auschwitz against Israel. Gays buying into “Israel Derangement Syndrome” is just a particularly pathological example of that wider pattern.

Which gays may be particularly prone to because of the sense of status, specifically moral status, offered. In his personal and perceptive reflections on the appeal of the priesthood to gay Catholic boys (such as himself), Irish writer Colm Toibin points to how a role of shame could be turned into one of status. There is particularly strong appeal to gays in the sense of higher moral status that modern progressivism offers: to shift from moral lepers to moral superiors is a heady reversal.

Buying into Israel Derangement Syndrome is all about a sense of moral superiority: of getting status through the correct opinions, the right sense of ostentatious outrage (against Israel) and conspicuous compassion (for Palestinians). Gays manifesting Israel Derangement Syndrome is just a particularly striking example of a wider pattern: a pattern whose pathology may be very striking in this particular case, but different only in scale, not in type.

Personally, I think the "ally with anti-Zionism" approach is utterly mad, for the big divide is between those who "get" that the pink triangle and the yellow stars of the death camps tell exactly the same lessons, and those who do not (and Israel, unsurprisingly, is full of people who do get that and its enemies are often people who so do not). But I would be regarded as a "right-of-centre" gay blogger, though my outlook is more libertarian/classical liberal.


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