Andrew Sullivan and I hugged it out at at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner last weekend (and we have witnesses, in case anyone doubts it). We do this from time to time, but it doesn't mean that he's going to stop thinking I'm some sort of apologist for fascism, or that I'm going to stop thinking he holds Israel to a ridiculous triple-standard. It's always nice to see him, though. Don't ask me to explain why.
Nevertheless, I wish I had known last weekend what I know this weekend, which is that the Equality Forum 2012 Summit meeting in Philadelphia, the largest gathering of LGBT civil rights activists in the country, has made Israel its "featured country," and it hosted the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, at its convention yesterday. I would have loved to have shared this news with Andrew, who is, of course, one of the most influential thinkers on gay rights in the world.
The honor granted to Israel by the Equality Forum comes after Gaycities.com named Tel Aviv the best gay city in the world for 2011. I suspect this recognition derives not only from the fact that gay Tel Avivis, and gay visitors, find the place so welcoming and open, but because Tel Aviv is also a refuge of sorts for gay Palestinians, who, if they lived the lives they were meant to live in their home cities and villages, would risk isolation, excoriation and even death. (Here is an interesting piece from the Times of Israel about Tel Aviv's "Palestinian Queer Party.") My impression is that fair-minded gay rights activists know that Israel is the one place in the Middle East in which gays and lesbians can serve in their armies and run for elective office and have domestic partnership rights, and most gay rights activists judge Israel not against a utopian standard but the standards of its neighborhood -- and the standards of its foremost adversary, Iran, where men have been executed for the state for being gay. (Read this report from Human Rights Watch if you want to know just how atrocious is the level of anti-gay persecution in Iran.)