You've heard the expression "Eyeless in Gaza" which comes from poem 'Samson Agonistes' by John Milton:
.. Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves ...
The poem relates the biblical story of Samson, who was captured by the Philistines, his eyes burned out, and he was taken to Gaza as a slave. His downfall came because of his weakness for Delilah, who betrayed him by cutting off his hair, so he lost his strength. In the end, Samson is tied to two massive columns in Gaza. His hair has grown again and his strength returns. He pulls the columns down, destroying both his tormentors and himself.
Strange how Gaza was once ruled by the brutal Phillistines, the Israelites' enemy, and is now ruled by another equally brutal enemy which wants to destroy Israel.
Another strange phenomenon in Gaza is the increased incidence of a rare genetic disorder:
Nadir Mohammed Saleh and Ahmed Fayiz Abed Rabo are cousins...they look much like any other 16-year-old Palestinian boy. But looks can be deceiving.
"Only my appearance, my haircut and clothing, makes me look like a boy," Ahmed says. "Inside, I am like a female. I am a girl."
Until last summer, both Nadir and Ahmed were -- for all intents and purposes -- girls. They wore female headscarves, attended girls' school and even answered to the female first names Navin and Ola.
Both were born with a rare birth defect called male pseudohermaphrodism...which left their male reproductive organs deformed and buried deep within their abdomens. At birth, doctors identified them as girls, because they appeared to have female genitalia.
They spent the first 16 years of their lives dressing and acting like girls... but as they hit puberty, their bodies began generating testosterone, resulting in facial hair and increasingly masculine features.
"They used to travel by car to girls' school and back," says Nadir's father Mohammed Sadih Ahmed Saleh. "Because of their facial hair, it was difficult for them to go out into the street."
Finally both Nadir and Ahmed transformed themselves into boys.
"They transferred on the same day," Saleh says. "Clothing, they switched to the boys' school on the same day. They cut their hair on the same day."
There are an unusually high number of male pseudohermaphrodite births in the Gaza neighborhood of Jabalya, where Nadir and Ahmed live.
Dr. Jehad Abudaia, a Canadian-Palestinian pediatrician and urologist practicing in Gaza...
attributes the high frequency of this birth defect to "consanguinity," or in-breeding.
Abudaia's first advice to patients with the disorder is to immediately adopt male clothing and hair cuts, and then to plan for a sex-change operation.
Nadir and Ahmed...are appealing to the international community to help them get the expensive and complicated sex-change operations they say they need to live normal lives.
Until the sex-change operation is completed, Palestinian officials won't change the gender on their identity cards to "male," thus restricting their access to higher education.
"This is 100 percent a humanitarian issue," says Nadir's father, Mohammed. "...the cost of the operations would be $30,000. We don't have $30,000 and there is no advanced medicine in Gaza." (source)
Much as I sympathise with these unfortunate teenagers, the international community already pours $$$ millions into Gaza for humanitarian issues, but most goes to Hamas to buy weapons. So what are the chances of any money going to them? Secondly, how about the mega-rich Islamic countries, who make such a song and dance about the poor Palestinians, helping out their brothers for a change?
Mind you, changing sex isn't all bad, as Robert Spencer observes:
"I prefer now to be male because this society privileges males over females. The women in our society are not respected..."
Apparently Fatima -- Odai -- is, on top of everything else, a Misunderstander of Islam, or even maybe a Greasy Islamophobe. After all, who but such people thinks that an Islamic society doesn't respect women? As everyone knows, "beat her" (Qur'an 4:34) in the original Arabic means "give her a hug."
For fifteen years, Fatima lived as a girl in the northern Gaza neighborhood of Jabalya. She wore girl's clothing, and went to an all-girl's school.
But shortly after turning 12, Fatima, now renamed Odai, recalls undergoing changes: "I was normal. I used to be a girl and my name was Fatima. Before my father found out and the doctors checked me, I felt like a girl. But after I turned 12 years old, I began feeling more like a boy than a girl."
Odai's father said that following several medical tests, a hormonal imbalance was detected. The results showed that Odai had high levels of testosterone and needed a sex-change operation....
"I feel much more comfortable now, I feel like I was born again. I feel free. Anyway, I prefer now to be male because this society privileges males over females. The women in our society are not respected, and their ideas are not respected either. This society is much more acceptant of males than females." (source)
Just a cursory study of Islamic texts reveals that Islam regards women as inferior to males.
But Islam's homophobia, sexism and anti-semitism is lost on Rabbi Keren-Black, who prefers to blame his co-religionists. In his sermon, "Gays are people too", he admonishes:
Just because something may have been considered inappropriate to our ancestors of three thousand and more years ago does not mean it is necessarily the same for us today.
If anyone felt attracted to their own sex, that was not considered normal or permissible. It would not produce new children, more soldiers. And so, right in the heart of Leviticus, we seem to have two strong prohibitions on homosexuality – one who lies with a man as with a woman should be put to death. When, at a later stage, the ancient rabbis considered the matter again, they decreed that, even if you did have homosexual feelings, you should still marry and have children.
In 1883, the Reform movement of America launched the Pittsburgh Platform, which read ‘we hold that the modern discoveries of scientific researches in the domain of nature and history are not antagonistic to the doctrines of Judaism, the Bible reflecting the primitive ideas of its own age…’. In other words, we do not consider the Torah to be binding on us, when it seems to conflict with our modern understanding and insight... All are different, and in sexual identity, some are heterosexual, some are homosexual, and some are in between, or move over time in their sexual identity. Today we understand that some people have a mismatch between their physical and emotional sexual identity. Progressive Judaism, progressive religions in general, should not be prejudiced against any sexual identity.
This is why I spoke at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans gender, Queer Multicultural conference...people can be Jewish and Gay, and indeed for years we have been ordaining outwardly gay rabbis...at Hebrew Union College for the study of human sexuality and Judaism, I found a prayer for coming out, and even one to use whilst taking medication for changing gender.
I am reminded of what an orthodox rabbi said at the end of the Jewish Christian Muslim conference last year: I didn’t meet Christians and Muslims, I met PEOPLE. It is the same with the Queer conference. I didn’t meet Homosexuals and Gays and Queers and Lesbians and Trans-sexuals – I met people....
I am delighted, therefore, to say that we at LBC are able to offer the Aleph group for gay Jews a home...
I hope that we, as individuals and as a community, will all be a little more open to those who are a bit different, in some way or other, from ourselves. After all, are we not all people, and all made in the image of the one, loving God? (source)
All very well Rabbi, but you are involved with the Jewish Muslim Christian Association, whose Islamist contingent support Hamas and Hezbollah, which want to kill Jews and homosexuals. So where does that leave homosexual Jews?
Why aren't you giving this lecture about being " a little more open to those who are a bit different from ourselves" to your Islamic interfaith partners whose holy book refers to Jews as apes and Christians as pigs, and mandates killing infidels?
And I hate to tell you, but the Torah is the essence of Judaism, so if you do not consider the Torah to be binding on you, then you are not even following Judaism.
But I can tell the Rabbi feels strongly about this, so I have a solution. He could go to Gaza to minister to the gay, lesbian and trans gender community there, and help counter the rampant homophobia they face. At the same time he might like to set up a Gaza branch of the JCMA to fight anti-Semitism among Muslims, and could even extend his environmental group - Green Faith (See Green Brotherhood) to Gaza, which heaven knows is in dire need of some environmental tender loving care.
It is important for religious leaders to practice what they preach. Otherwise, they could be accused of hypocrisy. This way, he would putting his words "I didn’t meet Christians and Muslims, I met PEOPLE" into action, and gain the respect of those who doubt the effectiveness of his interfaith endeavours.