Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tel Aviv, Israel’s Gay Mecca, Invites Gay Travelers to Come and Visit

By Aviv Benedix

Israel’s second largest city and by far the most liberal, Tel Aviv has become immensely popular as of late among gay tourists worldwide. Tel Aviv, situated on the Mediterranean Sea, enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year, and is the ideal vacation spot for gay travelers.

Tel Aviv: Gay Mecca?

With a secular and liberal population, and a city hall and Israeli tourism ministry embracing Tel Aviv’s global pink image, Tel Aviv, through its Tel Aviv Gay Vibe campaign is calling on gays to visit and check out what Gay Tel Aviv has to offer. Tel Aviv Gay Vibe, launched by the city and the gay organization, Aguda, has received nearly $100,000 in funding to be spent on spreading the word of Tel Aviv. It is estimated that there are nearly 30% more gay tourists visiting Israel than just three years ago.

Israel has some of the most liberal laws in the world when it comes to homosexual rights, and is in many ways ahead of many countries in Europe and the United States.

Tel Aviv has a lot to offer gay tourists and tourists visiting shouldn't think to hide their sexuality. Every June Tel Aviv hosts its annual Gay Pride Parade. First held in 1998, more than 120,000 people, gay and straight, from throughout the world took part in 2010.

Gay tourists also are offered a specially designed guided tour of Tel Aviv and its gay scene and special travel guides exist that lists gay and lesbian-friendly hotels and nightclubs.

Tel Aviv is trying to advertise itself especially among homosexuals in Spain, the United States, and Latin America. In particular, a recent event was held in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, in which Israeli DJ Erez Ben Ishay took part. These happenings run by Tel Aviv Gay Vibe are meant to attract gay tourists to visit Tel Aviv.

This past August the popular gay cruise line, Atlantis, docked in Israel for the first time. Thousands of Atlantis passengers spent the day wandering around the historic city of Jerusalem, while at night hundreds could be found partying with locals in the popular Tel Aviv gay bar, Evita.

Tel Aviv Gets Recognized As Global Gay Hot Spot

On November 10th, TripOutGay.com, a comprehensive travel site dedicated to LGBT tourists and MTV's first independent, gay travel-friendly site, declared Tel Aviv a 2010 finalist for "Best Breakout Destination" and "Sexiest Place on Earth" at the second annual "TripOut Gay Travel Awards" in London.

Popular travel guide, Lonely Planet, recently declared Tel Aviv to be along the top #3 cities in the world to visit in 2011, declaring:

"Tel Aviv is the total flipside of Jerusalem, a modern Sin City on the sea rather than an ancient Holy City on a hill. Hedonism is the one religion that unites its inhabitants. There are more bars than synagogues, God is a DJ and everyone’s body is a temple. Yet, scratch underneath the surface and Tel Aviv, or TLV, reveals itself as a truly diverse 21st-century Mediterranean hub. By far the most international city in Israel, Tel Aviv is also home to a large gay community, a kind of San Francisco in the Middle East. Thanks to its university and museums, it is also the greenhouse for Israel’s growing art, film and music scenes."

Even more recently, popular American magazine, City Journal, dedicated a recent feature regarding Tel Aviv, declaring:

"Tel Aviv is the Middle East’s most socially liberal city by far; in some respects, it is even more socially tolerant than Michael Bloomberg’s New York—the self-appointed beacon of urban toleration. Out magazine, for instance, calls Tel Aviv “the gay capital of the Middle East” (there’s not much competition, true). As long as civic peace is maintained, few Tel Avivans think that another citizen’s lifestyle is any of their business."

Popular Tel Aviv Drag Show Loves Tourists!

Performing every Tuesday night at 23:30 at Evita Bar, Tel Aviv's favorite drag queen duet, Ziona Patriot and Talula Bonet, make it a point to welcome tourists in every performance. Join hundreds of Israeli locals in what you'll remember as a night of laughs and excellent memories.


Israel's most famous drag queens, Ziona Patriot and Talula Bonet always welcome Tourists to their performance every Tuesday!


For more information on the latest events in Tel Aviv, feel free to check out the Atraf Events. Guide.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

75% of Jewish-Israelis Fine Living Near Homosexuals, 70% of Arab-Israelis Opposed

By Aviv Benedix

A new survey by the Israel Democracy Institute shows that 75% of Jewish Israelis were not disturbed by and would be okay living near homosexuals, while 70% of Arab-Israelis oppose living near gays.

75% of Jewish Israelis Fine having Homosexual neighbors

The survey asked the general Israeli public: "How important is it to you that in Israel...Homosexual couples should have the same legal rights as other couples." 6% of Israelis declared that it was not at all important to them, 42% stated that it was so-so important to them, 29% said it was extremly important, and 23% declared that they don't know or refuse to answer the question.

When the general Israeli population was asked if it bothered them to have a homosexual couple as neighbors, 35% declared that it would bother them, 20% said that they don't care, 42% said it would not bother them, and 3% said they don't know or refused to answer the question.

Survey Results

Among the Jewish public surveyed, 46% were opposed to having Arabs as neighbors, 39% mentally ill in community treatment, 39% foreign workers as neighbors, with 25% of respondents bothered by having a homosexual couple as a neighbor. This was followed by 23% bothered by ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbors, 18% mentally retarded, 17% with Ethiopian Immigrants, 12% former settlers 10% with non-Sabbath observers, and 8% with immigrants from the Former Soviet Union.

A breakdown of the Israeli-Jewish public by religiosity showed that while only 21% of secular Jews and 31% of traditional Jews are opposed to equal rights for gay couples, 51% of religious/Orthodox Jews, and 68% of Ultra Orthodox Jews were opposed.

68% of Ultra Orthodox Jews are Opposed to Equal Rights for Homosexual Couples

When the Arab-Israeli public was asked "How important is it to you that in Israel...Homosexual couples should have the same legal rights as other couples", 54% declared that the matter was not of importance to them, 24% find the issue to be important, and 22% have no definate opinion on the matter.

The data also showed the Arab-Israeli public to be less tolerant than the Israeli Jewish public when it came to living with other groups as neighbors. Homosexuals topped the list, with 70% of Arab-Israelis polled opposed to living next to gay couples, 67% not wanting to live near Ultra Orthdox Jews, 65% former settlers, 64% immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, 56% non-Sabbath observers, 53% Ethiopian immigrants, 51% mentally retarded, 50% Jews in general, 49% mentally in community treatment and 48% opposed to living near foreign workers.

Gays Not Wanted: 70% of Arab-Israelis are opposed to gay couples as neighbors


For more information please see the full survey on the Israel Democracy Institute's website.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Anti-Israel "Israeli Queers for Palestine" Outraged that Tel Aviv was Recognized as a Finalist for "Best Breakout Destination" and "Sexiest Place on Earth"

By Aviv Benedix

On November 10th, TripOutGay.com, a comprehensive travel site dedicated to LGBT tourists and MTV's first independent, gay travel-friendly site, declared Tel Aviv a 2010 finalist for "Best Breakout Destination" and "Sexiest Place on Earth" at the second annual "TripOut Gay Travel Awards" in London.

Close but no cigar... Tel Aviv was a finalist for both "Best Breakout Destination" and "Sexiest Place on Earth"


While most of Tel Aviv was thrilled about being thrown into the limelight in such a positive manner, not everyone in the Israeli gay community was happy. The Tel Aviv-based, anti-Israel group, Israeli Queers for Palestine, that declares itself "a Tel-Aviv based queer group that supports the Palestinian BDS (Disinvestment) against Israel, specificailly in light of the the joining and call for BDS of Palestinian Queers (PQBDS)", declared:

"Just a few months after Palestinian Queers for BDS have issued their June 28 Call ‘upon all queer groups, organizations and individuals around the world to boycott the apartheid State of Israel‘, Logo, MTV’s LGBT Network, nominated Tel-Aviv, among other cities, within a gay ‘sexiest city’ and ‘year breakthrough’ award-bearing tourism promotion contests. We, Tel-Aviv-based queers, denounce the mere nomination of Tel-Aviv within this context of gay tourism promotion. These polls were conducted by Logo while a global human rights based movement for boycotting Israel is gaining strength in a pace that surpasses that of similar efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime of South Africa. Granting a shameful tribute to apartheid, Logo encourages LGBT communities to ignore such important efforts, and in particular the specific call made by Palestinian queers to boycott Israel.

We support Palestinian Queers for BDS’ Call, which follows the July 9th 2005 Palestinian united civil society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. We view BDS as a powerful, legitimate and much needed tool to end the impunity in which Israel continues to colonize and oppress the Palestinian people. This includes the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, including the illegal siege on Gaza and West Bank apartheid wall; the systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the prevention of the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees, who were expelled by Israel since 1948. We encourage queer groups, organizations and individuals to heed the Palestinian Queers for BDS’ Call and boycott the apartheid state of Israel."

What makes a group of liberal queers support the anti-Israel policy of Islamic Fundamentalist Hamas? Homosexuality is Illegal in Hamas-controlled Gaza

Politics makes strange bed fellows, and there are no names signed as members of "Israel Queers for Palestine". It seems that this organization is nothing but a front in the Public Relations war against Israel, and they will use any means necessary to bring about the demonization of the Jewish State.

Israel, although no way near perfect, is a beacon of light in the Middle East, especially when it comes to gay rights. Israeli law recognizes homosexual relationships, and gay marriages performed abroad are recognized in Israel. Israel allows the foreign gay partners of Israeli citizens residential status, and has recognized the right for gays to adopt children. Gays in Israel serve openly in the Israel Defense Forces, and gays are widely represented in Israeli culture, film, television, music and more. There are multiple gay centers throughout Israel, and besides the two main gay pride parades held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv every year, others have been held in Haifa, Eilat, Beer Sheva, and Rosh Pina.

Unfortunately the situation in the Palestinian-Arab West Bank and Gaza, and throughout the rest of the Arab World is much worse when it comes to the protection of sexual minorities and gay rights. In the Gaza Strip, controlled by the anti-Israel terrorist group Hamas, homosexuality is illegal. Likewise, in the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank, gays have no legal rights, civil rights, and gay partnerships/marriages performed abroad have no legal recognition. Gay men have even been known to be sentenced to up to 10 years imprisonment for the "crime" of being gay and many gays live in fear of being found out and being killed in "honor killings" by their family and neighbors.

Pro-Hamas Rally in Chicago in 2009. Is "Israeli Queers for Palestine" a front group of Hamas in its campaign for the destruction of Israel?

Going back to other big winners of "TripOut Gay Travel Awards", New York City reigned supreme by winning the 2010 "Best Global Destination" for gay travelers. It competed against and defeated Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Madrid, and Montreal.

New York, New York..."Best Global Destination" for Gays in 2010

Toronto won recognition as a recommended "gay approved" travel destination by winning "Best Breakout Destination". Toronto defeated Dallas (Texas), Mexico City, Reykjavik (Iceland), Tel Aviv, and Siem Reap (Cambodia).


Toronto, home of gay marriage and now the "Best Breakout Destination" for 2010

Rio de Janeiro won fame and was declared "Sexiest Place on Earth", defeating Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Key West (Florida), Las Vegas, and Palm Springs (California).

Is it getting hot in here, or I am in Rio?

San Francisco took home the gold for "Best U.S. Destination", defeating Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Provincetown (Massachusetts).

San Francisco..."Best U.S. Destination"

Lastly, all you lovers of big parties should head to Madrid this upcoming July 4, 2011, as Madrid Gay Pride was declared the "Best Annual Gay Destination (Party or Event)". Other great parties on the list were Amsterdam Gay Pride, The Dinah & Dinah Shore Weekend , Palm Springs (California), Manchester Pride (UK), Provincetown Bear Week (Massachusetts), and the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Madrid Gay Pride..."Best Annual Gay Destinaion" for a Party!

For more info please see the following: Marketwatch

Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Not in Israel! The US Military Must Follow Israel and Include Gays

By Aviv Benedix

While the debate in the United States is continuously raging on the acceptance and place of homosexuals in the American military, the Jewish State has long since moved on, allowing homosexuals to serve openly in its military for more than a dozen years.

Although Israel, like the United States has deep religious feelings and traditions, its military, the Israel Defense Forces, has long been known to be the melting pot of Israeli Society and the peoples' army. All Jewish citizens are required to do mandatory service, and for their own political reasons, Israel's Orthodox Jewish parties have never challenged the decision to allow homosexuals to serve openly.


Gay Israeli Soldier at Jerusalem Pride Parade. Gay Israelis Serve Openly

The IDF began to place openly gay soldiers in its military in 1983, but it wasn't until 1992 that the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, passed a law giving gays equal treatment in the army. Discrimination in the IDF has decreased greatly since 1998 and is today described as totally nonissue. According to the report "Gays in Foreign Militaries 2010", the drafting of openly gays "has been highly successful and has no negative impact on morale, retention, readiness or overall combat effectiveness".


Allowing Gays to Serve Openly has had "no negative impact" on the Israeli Army

While in 2000, only 40% of Americans believed gays should be able to serve openly, a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that a majority of Americans, 58%, now support homosexuals to serve openly in the American military, and only 27% believe that gays should be banned.

Rejection of gays in the US military is still a cornerstone of Conservative politics, with leading Republican, such as 2008 Presidential Candidate John McCain saying they will continue to oppose gays serving in the military.


John McCain is a leading Republican Against Allowing Gays to Openly Serve

In favor of allowing gays to serve in the military are Democrats and independents, while more than half of all Roman Catholics and non-evangelical Protestant Christians believe that homosexuals should be able to serve openly. Likewise, nearly 70% of young Americans, between 18-29 believe gays should be able to serve. Nearly all other religious groups polled believe that gays should be able to serve openly, including American Jews.


Nearly 70% of Young Americans, 18-29, Support Gays Serving

Against gays serving in the American army are Republicans, 44% of which believe gays should be banned from openly serving, while 40% support homosexuals rights to serve their country. Likewise, 48% of white Evangelical Christians support continuing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of rejecting gays, while only 34% are in favor of its repeal and letting gays serve openly. Lastly, showing generational changes, only 44% of Americans over 65+ believe that gays should have the right to serve openly.


Only 34% of White Evangelical Christians Support Gays Serving Openly

The move to repeal the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has gained steam lately. The Pentagon will be releasing a 10 months-long report today regarding the possible effects of removing its currently policy and allowing gays to serve openly. Officials in the know regarding the study believe that most American soldiers will accept gays serving in the military.

American Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, both supporters in repealing the law, are scheduled to discuss the reports findings later today with Congress. Later this afternoon they are meant to meet with the press.

It is my hope that the United States will soon join Israel and the 25 other countries allowing gays to serve openly.

The Countries in Blue Allow Gays to Serve Openly


Sources:





Monday, November 29, 2010

MTV's TripOutGay.com Declares Tel Aviv One of The "Best Breakout Destination" and "Sexiest Place on Earth"!

By Aviv Benedix

On November 10th, TripOutGay.com, a comprehensive travel site dedicated to LGBT tourists and MTV's first independent, gay travel-friendly site, declared Tel Aviv a 2010 finalist for "Best Breakout Destination" and "Sexiest Place on Earth" at the second annual "TripOut Gay Travel Awards" in London.

Close but no cigar... Tel Aviv was a finalist for both "Best Breakout Destination" and "Sexiest Place on Earth"

New York City reigned supreme by winning the 2010 "Best Global Destination" for gay travelers. It competed against and defeated Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, Madrid, and Montreal.

New York, New York..."Best Global Destination" for Gays in 2010

Toronto won recognition as a recommended "gay approved" travel destination by winning "Best Breakout Destination". Toronto defeated Dallas (Texas), Mexico City, Reykjavik (Iceland), Tel Aviv, and Siem Reap (Cambodia).

Toronto, home of gay marriage and now the "Best Breakout Destination" for 2010

Rio de Janeiro won fame and was declared "Sexiest Place on Earth", defeating Tel Aviv, Barcelona, Key West (Florida), Las Vegas, and Palm Springs (California).

Is it getting hot in here, or I am in Rio?

San Francisco took home the gold for "Best U.S. Destination", defeating Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, and Provincetown (Massachusetts).

San Francisco..."Best U.S. Destination"

Lastly, all you lovers of big parties should head to Madrid this upcoming July 4, 2011, as Madrid Gay Pride was declared the "Best Annual Gay Destination (Party or Event)". Other great parties on the list were Amsterdam Gay Pride, The Dinah & Dinah Shore Weekend , Palm Springs (California), Manchester Pride (UK), Provincetown Bear Week (Massachusetts), and the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Madrid Gay Pride..."Best Annual Gay Destinaion" for a Party!

For more info please see the following: Marketwatch

UN Votes To Allow Killing of Gays, Israel One Of 70 Countries Voting Against Resolution

By Aviv Benedix

The United Nations, led by the sub-Saharan African country Benin, voted last week on a special amendment removing homosexuals and other sexual minorities from a list of "groups historically subject to executions including street children, human rights defenders, members of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minority communities" in a resolution that affirms the duties of UN member countries to protect the lives of all people, and calls for investigations on killings based on discriminatory grounds. Previously, the UN called for the protection of sexual minorities for the past 10 years.

The new resolution, supported by 79 countries, includes nearly the entire African and Islamic world, many of which sentence convicted homosexuals to jail and death. 70 countries voted against the resolution, while 16 countries abstained.

Israel, where gays have many freedoms, once again proved itself a gay oasis in the non-democratic Middle East by voting against the resolution. Europe and most of the free and democratic West voted against the resolution as well.


Is the United Nations sentencing gays to death?

In favor of the amendment removing gays and other sexual minorities from the resolution on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions were (79): Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Voting against the amendment were (70): Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia (FS), Monaco, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.

The following countries that abstained were (17): Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Fiji, Mauritius, Mongolia, Papau New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

And the following countries were absent from the vote (26): Albania, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Marshall Island, Mauritania, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Sao Tome Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan.

Check out the great and hysterical YouTube video below, Gay United Nations, for a bit of humor regarding this sad state of world affairs.

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