First it was scuffles and water fights in Knesset; now it’s homophobia. Anastasia Michaeli just doesn’t seem to get the conventions of normal inoffensive behavior.
You probably remember the model turned politician from the ugly saga in January when she threw a cup of water at Israeli-Arab lawmaker Raleb Majadele during a Knesset discussion. Or maybe from even earlier, when in 2010 she physically threatened another Arab lawmaker, Hanin Zuabi, a participant in the Gaza flotilla, who was talking about the activist voyage.
There is a heart-wrenching moment in “We Were Here,” David Weissman’s documentary about the AIDS crisis in San Francisco, which stands out from the rest of the film. Ed Wolf, an activist and one of the five people extensively interviewed by Weissman, remembers a conversation he had with the father of a hospitalized and infected man.
The father said to him: “You know, it’s harder for me to find out my son is a fag than that he’s going to die soon.”
What can you say to that? Weissman, who is gay, lived in San Francisco and was witness to the crisis. Some of his prior work reflects that experience, including a short film, “Song From An Angel,” which featured local performer Rodney Price doing a song and tap dance about his own death just two weeks before he died of AIDS.
What is surprising is how calmly, almost clinically, Weissman’s interviewees recall the era — anyone anticipating a documentary version of Larry Kramer’s play, “The Normal Heart,” will be surprised, if not disappointed. It’s not that Weissman’s subjects are passionless — there are tears when dead lovers and friends are discussed — but there is surprisingly little anger. Weissman talked to The Arty Semite about what prompted his work on this film, coming out to his father, and his anger at the Reagan administration. “We Were Here” airs June 14 as part of the Independent Lens series on PBS.
Curt Schleier: Your Jewish background influenced your decision to make this film. How?
Sixth formers (high school seniors) at JFS, the oldest and largest Jewish day school in England, are being taught that homosexuality can be cured. At least, that is how some students, parents and community leaders understand the inclusion of information about JONAH — Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (an American organization that maintains that homosexuality can be “mitigated and potentially eliminated”) — in a Jewish text class on homosexuality and the Orthodox viewpoint.
Complaints have been lodged with the school’s administration, contending either that introducing the notion of gay “conversion” is offensive, or that at the very least, opposing views to those of JONAH should be included in the class. Material from or mention of Keshet UK, the LGBT forum, were reportedly not part of the course of study.
Another living link to the Holocaust was lost last week when the last surviving man to have worn the pink triangle — sewn onto concentration camp uniforms to signify homosexuality — died at the age of 98.
The New York Times reported that Rudolf Brazda, who had been imprisoned in Buchenwald, died in Alsace, France, where he had lived since the camp’s liberation, in 1945.
It was only in May 2008, “when the German National Monument to the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime was unveiled in Berlin’s Tiergarten park — opposite the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe — that Mr. Brazda became known as probably the last gay survivor of the camps,” the Times said. “Until he notified German officials after the unveiling, the Lesbian and Gay Federation believed there were no other pink-triangle survivors.”
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