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Op-ed: Anti-Semitism in Charges That Israel Trumps LGBT Rights

Michael Lucas

Michael Lucas charges old-fashioned hatred in claims that American Jews care more about Israel than patriotism or LGBT rights.

As one of the world's most successful purveyors of gay pornography, I am no stranger to harsh criticism. Yet even with my thick skin, I was taken aback by the level of vitriol aimed at me in social media earlier this week. As it turned out, I was being bashed for something I never did.

An article by Jay Michaelson in The Daily Beast described the controversy over a gathering hosted by gay hotel owners Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, billed as a "fireside chat" with U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Michaelson then brought up my name, writing "As at Reisner's event, Lucas has often 'discussed' the contrast between gay rights in Israel versus the rest of the Middle East."

The wording left the impression that I had attended the event in New York (in fact I was in Chicago that day), and the result was a torrent of anger directed at me from people who were led to believe that I support Cruz. The Daily Beast, recognizing the error, later issued a clarification stating I was not there, and that I do not support Cruz. Michaelson himself tweeted "I don't agree with Michael Lucas on much, but I never said he's pro-Ted Cruz. Stop hating on him for it!"

I'm pleased we cleared that up, because now we can focus on the thrust of the article, which is that Republican and conservative gays and Jews care more about Cruz's support for Israel than they do about his horrendous record on LGBT rights.

This is a new and ominous twist on the old "dual loyalty" canard that has been leveled at Jews for many centuries in whatever country they happen to find themselves. Ironically, Michaelson--who identifies himself as someone who "holds a doctorate in Jewish thought from Hebrew University... and nondenominational rabbinic ordination"--has actually written about the dual loyalty accusation. Despite linking it to Nazi propaganda and the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France, he also gave it credence when he asked in a 2013 article, "Does anyone else find it strange that synagogues have American and Israeli flags on the bimah (stage)?"

Now he goes a step further, questioning not just whether American Jewish gay supporters of Israel care more about the Jewish state than the United States, but whether they are more concerned about Israel than they are about equal rights for gays here at home.

I find it outrageous that at a time of rising global anti-Semitism (and that's the polite term; it's simply old-fashioned Jew-hatred), critics such as Michaelson add fuel to the fire by portraying those of us who support the only democracy in the Middle East as traitors to the cause of gay rights. In the Daily Beast article, Michaelson also excoriates Ian Reisner for "shamelessly invoking the Holocaust" at another event featuring a Republican senator. He quotes Reisner as saying "we are not too far from history to be wary of politicians who make bad decisions that threaten our lives."

"Shamelessly invoking the Holocaust"? As Iran continues its pursuit of nuclear weapons, the Islamic country's Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi was quoted in March as saying "wiping Israel off the map is not up for negotiation." Is not the ghastly specter of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered, precisely what should be invoked at this moment in history?

Michaelson further panders to the anti-Israel crowd by bringing up the despicable concept of "pinkwashing." This discredited idea holds that Israel's stellar record on LGBT rights is essentially a smokescreen to divert attention from its treatment of Palestinians. Those who are consumed by hatred for Israel cannot accept that the country does anything good for the right reasons. I thought of that this week when I read that the Israeli aid team sent to earthquake-ravaged Nepal was the largest of any country, with more than 250 doctors and rescue personnel. (The next-largest delegation was from the U.K., with 68 people). So what will Israel's detractors label this generous humanitarian gesture? Quake-washing?

The over-the-top criticism of virtually every Israeli action by so-called "progressives" is not just beneath contempt. It is a dangerous misreading of the forces of history currently at play, just as so many in the 1930's chose not to comprehend the threat of Nazism.

Accusing American Jews in general, and gay Jews in particular, of dual loyalty because they are open to hearing from politicians who advocate for a strong and secure Israel, is obscene. When Michaelson writes about a "much larger pattern of gay Jewish Republicans putting LGBT civil rights aside, and putting Israel First," he might as well also mention the theories that 9/11 was a Mossad plot, or that Jews use the blood of Christian children to bake their matzah. That's how disgraceful the charge is.

I was born and raised in Russia. What I witnessed there has made me a patriotic American, a proud Jew, a staunch supporter of the state of Israel, and a longtime advocate for gay rights. Do not dare to question my loyalty to any of my communities.

MICHAEL LUCAS is the creator of Lucas Entertainment, one of the largest studios producing all-male erotica, and the producer of two independent documentaries: Undressing Israel and Campaign of Hate. He lives in New York City. This essay is the opinion of the writer, and does not reflect the views or opinions of Out.

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