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.