Does the victory of Dana International as Israel’s entry in the Eurovision contest on Saturday nite, May 9, 1998 in Birmingham, England represents a slap in the face of the people of Israel and of Europe?

Dana Interational’s appearance was funded by the Israeli taxpayer, not by a private concern nor by any lobby group.

The people of Israel remain by and large committed to family values.

That commitment to family values overwhelmingly includes the 20% of Israel’s population of non-Jews who share a family value vision that is commonly held by Jews, Christians and Moslems.

Clearly stated, family values mean that sexual relations belong to a context of heterosexual family relations.

A common theme to all three religions in Israel holds that if a person is born with traits as a man and a woman, or with any other handicap, that person deserves all the compassion and understanding in the world for his/her infirmity. As a social work professional, I see a crying need for appropriate treatment of people who suffer such incapacities, and no one should be judgmental or angry with a person who has been born with such problems.

Yet to hold up a transvestite as a publicly funded model for Israel and all of the world to glorify can carry a skewed message from the government and people of Israel.

It is as if a people who have promoted family values throughout the centuries are now proclaiming that “we didn’t mean it after all”.

It would have been one thing for Dana International to have performed on behalf of a gay rights club or any other group that would have advocated regonition of transvesticism as a legitimate form of sexual expression.

In a free world of expression, that would be their right.

No one should interfere with such a right of assembly or freedom of speech.

It is quite another thing to place such a person in a representational capacity of the state of Israel.

Perhaps we should privatize the arts in Israel so that such a problem of representation does not surface again?

After all, Israel remains a place of diverse religious, ethnic, and, yes, sexual cultures, for which no one can claim a representational monopoly.

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.

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