By Christophe Martet
A unique experience and a world first. From November 6 to 13, the associations Beit Haverim (a gay and lesbian Jewish group in France), David and Jonathan (a Christian homosexual movement) and HM2F (homosexual Muslims in France) are organizing a trip to Israel and Palestine. Presented as a world first, according to organizers, the aim of the trip is to meet and dialogue with representatives of the three religions and to enter into a dialogue and express their solidarity with the local LGBT movements in Israel and Palestine.
A dialogue in spirituality
Fifty people will participate in this trip, which will lead participants from Jerusalem in Israel to Ramallah in the West Bank, as well as to Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Jaffa and Abu Gosh, an Arab village near Jerusalem. For Franck, of Beit Haverim, the objective is not political; it is a dialogue in spirituality with local LGBT organizations.
During the stay, visits to tourist spots will alternate with meetings with political figures and representatives of Israeli and Palestinian LGBT associations.
Lotfi, of HM2F, has described this initiative as the forefront of a questioning of dogma that lead to discrimination against LGBT people. For Elizabeth, of David and Jonathan, spirituality is an effective way to participate in this dialogue. But they are not religious organizations, and they do not have to be accountable to any religion, she says.
Bertrand Delanoë's sponsorship
This trip is sponsored by the Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë. During the press conference held Friday morning [Oct. 14], Pierre Schapira, the Mayor's official responsible for International Relations, European Affairs and the Francophonie [French equivalent of the British Commonwealth], highlighted the particular context of this trip like no other and welcomed it
"You innovate and all forms of dialogue are good to take," he said.He also estimated that Israeli society was fairly open about these questions. He said that his counterpart in the City of Jerusalem is openly gay.
The mayor of Paris' tenth arrondissement [district], Remi Feraud, who was also present on Friday, emphasized that the importance of this trip was that it showed the willingness of the associations to gather experience and to enter into a dialogue with two societies so as to lift taboos. He said that they will bring another view of this region, less caricatural and more optimistic.
Franck, of Beit Haverim, said the trip was fully self-financing. He said they did not seek any form of public or private subsidy in order to do the trip fully independently.
Translation by F. Young