NEW YORK – Engaged gay couples are the newest group to be courted in the Mid-East Conflict. A massive outdoor mural in Manhattan’s West Village depicts two men holding hands while looking at scales that weigh the gay rights enjoyed in Israel versus the homosexual persecution in other Middle Eastern countries, including the Palestinian territories and Iran. Above the artwork is the question, “Who would you want at your wedding?”
The Alumni Community of Birthright Israel comissioned famed New York graffiti artists Chris St. John to create the mural which is set to be completed on May 14th, the day Israel declared Independence, and will remain at 111 Leroy Street between Greenwich and Hudson Streets until defaced.
“I hope that everyone who believes in decency and freedom, including those in the gay community, will look at this mural and know that the Israeli society best reflects the values that we cherish here in New York,”Says Rebecca Sugar, Executive Director of The Alumni Community of Birthright Israel which works with tens of thousands of young people in the New York area who have returned from a free trip to Israel.
The mural shows on one scale facts about Israel’s neighbors: ”In Iran homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. There is no Pride Parade in Egypt, Jordan or Gaza. Homosexuality is illegal in Syria.”
On the other scale are facts about Israel: “Same sex couples can legally adopt children. Gay people serve openly in the military and government. More than 10,000 people celebrated at Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade in 2011.”
“President Obama’s endorsement Wednesday of gay marriage has brought the issue to the forefront of the American conversation which is playing out across many states,” says Sugar. “But in the Middle East, only Israel enjoys the freedom to have that same debate.”
“Members of the gay community need to understand that there is only one country in the Middle East where a free and safe life is available to them – Israel” says Sugar. “And we hope that significance is not lost.”
Credit goes to Mr. Lance Laytner of Public Good Relations