Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Center/Program

Center for Gender & Sexuality Law

Abstract

On August 1, 2009, a masked man dressed in black carrying an automatic weapon stormed into Beit Pazi in Tel Aviv, the home of the Aguda, the National Association of GLBT in Israel. He opened fire on a group of gay and lesbian teenagers who were meeting in the basement for "Bar-Noar," or "Youth Bar," killing two people and wounding at least ten others. This terrible act of violence attracted immediate national and international attention and condemnation. President Simon Peres declared the next day:

[T]he shocking murder carried out in Tel Aviv yesterday against youths and young people is a murder which a civilized and enlightened nation cannot accept.... Murder and hatred are the two most serious crimes in society. The police must exert great efforts in order to catch the despicable murderer, and the entire nation must unite in condemning this abominable act.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added: "We are a democratic country, a country of tolerance, a law-abiding state, and we will honor every person regardless of his or her beliefs." When the Prime Minister visited the Aguda's building several days later, he remarked, "This is not just a blow to the gay-lesbian community. This is a blow to all Israeli youth and Israeli society." President Peres echoed these remarks at a rally honoring the murdered gay teens: "The gun shots that hit the gay community earlier this week hit us all. As people. As Jews. As Israelis."

These remarks, while laudable for their strong condemnation of violence against gay and lesbian people, signal something quite interesting about the relationship between homosexuality, the state of Israel, the Jewish people, and the idea of a modem, democratic, and tolerant state. Israel's top political leaders did more than express concern about an act of private violence against members of the nation's sexual minority; rather the way they rendered the Aguda shooting both patriotized its victims and homosexualized Jews and Israel.

This essay turns to several diverse sites of global politics – Israel, Romania, Poland, Iran, and the United States – to illuminate the centrality and manipulation of sexuality and sexual rights in struggles for and against the civilizing mission that lies at the heart of key aspects of globalization. I began this essay with the discussion of Israel not to single it out, but to illustrate a larger, more widespread phenomenon. It is worth tracing why, how, and to what Dating the State effect a state's posture with respect to the rights of "its" homosexuals has become an effective foreign policy tool, often when negotiating things that have little or nothing to do with homosexuality.

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