Adopted by the Ministry of Health, the ban on reparative medicine – not so minor news even against the backdrop of the “corona” and a possible war between Russia and Ukraine. In this event, two different, in fact, opposite Israel collided – religious-conservative and liberal, focused on Western values. In today's round, the second Israel won, which, it would seem, can only be welcomed. But it's not that simple.
Brief information: reparative, it is also a conversion medicine is aimed at changing sexual preferences, curing homosexuality and other so-called sexual transversions. Its first practices date back to the mid-late 19th century, when homosexuality began to be viewed as a disease, not a sin or a crime, which in itself was a great achievement of humanism. However, the methods of reparative therapy (often quite cruel) rarely gave the desired result and are currently recognized in the world medical community as a health-threatening quackery. In our time, homosexuality is not officially considered a deviation from the norm, and the laws of civilized countries protect a person's personal life from outside interference. That is why in many countries reparative medicine is banned, and its practice and advertising are punished up to imprisonment.
However, there are two factors that do not fit into this scheme – religion and politics. In Israel, this tangle of contradictions is especially tangled.
The struggle of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel against the legalization of same-sex marriages, gay parades and other aspects of the recognition of LGBT rights has been long and fierce, but not very successful, although their attitude is shared not only by haredim. “Prides” for several years now they have been held even in the holy city of Jerusalem, despite protests, provocations and other methods, one of which is – active political lobbying.
(By the way, the intersection of the topic of homosexuality and politics is not at all our invention. In the post-war USA, at the height of the witch hunt, gays and lesbians were called communist agents. Until now, the States remain a conservative society in this regard, while Europe is becoming stronger depends on the LGBT electorate.)
In July 2020, when the Knesset plenum approved the law on reparative medicine in preliminary reading, deputies from Shas and Torah Jewry were outraged by such a “breach of agreements.” Premier Bibi had difficulty convincing them that this would not happen again. But the authorities changed, and one of the many nightmares of the community's religious population became a reality.
By and large, the Ministry of Health's ban encroaches on the unshakable norm of a religious society: a person belongs not only to himself, but also to the community. The community dictates to its members the behavior, actions, moral values and the framework in which he can dispose of his body. Individualism and the right to privacy destroy this fundamental order.
As noted by the Israeli doctors' union, most of those who turn to reparative medicine, – teenagers from religious families. It is possible that the new law will save some of them from the imposed “healing”, but it can be said in advance that in the religious sector, prohibited practices will still be applied, regardless of possible punishment, only more secretly. And this will further widen the gap between the religious and secular population of the country. It is also possible that the decision of the Ministry of Health will be reversed under the next government, which will need the support of ultra-Orthodox parties.
Here it is time to recall the second side of the conflict. The initiator of the law, Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the Meretz party and the first openly gay head of an Israeli party and ministry, is celebrating a big victory today. With the current coalition dependent on factions on the left, Horowitz's years-long struggle to expand LGBT rights is finally bearing fruit – for the time being, until his opponents take control. It is not known how long the laws he passed will last, but the head of Meretz managed to prove the main thing: not only haredim can impose their agenda on the government.
The Jews of the Torah do not represent the real Israel. Both of these phenomena – extreme, almost marginal strata of society and the political establishment. At the same time, paradoxically, their influence on the life of the country is disproportionately large. In other countries, such layers also exist, but they do not play such a prominent role in the life of society. Our policy is arranged in such a way that it is the extremes that rule the current situation, directing it first in one direction, then in the other, and the so-called center limply follows them along with the whole society. Where are we heading to – forward or backward, to liberalism or conservatism – nobody knows. Most likely, we are just marking time.
Author: Ira Kogan