“The Invisible Men”: documentary about grave danger for gay men on the West Bank, ironically partly due to Israel’s policies

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The Invisible Men”, 66 min, directed by Yaris Mozer, from Journeyman Films, Mozer, and Lev films, with the subtitles “Gay and Palestinian In Israel: Living Under The Radar”, appears on the Real Pride YT channel (April 2022), and it presents a little covered problem.  Gay men are often targets for religious-based persecution, even familial execution (“honor killings”), in some communities in Israel’s Occupied Territories on its West Bank, and cannot legally enter Israel. 

“The Invisible Men” film

Despite a relatively liberal policy on LGBT rights in Israel, the situation on the West Bank, underscored by Islam, is usually very hostile.  And Israel appears, according to the film, to have no policy of asylum for LGBT persons from the West Bank, simply because of its embed into larger security concerns over any Palestinians on the West Bank (as possible “trojans”), aggravated probably by Israeli West Bank settlements, which have been morally controversial for years.

It’s interesting that Israel, with its compulsory military service for both sexes, has accepted open gays in the military since the 1990s, long before the US was able to abandon its “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in 2011.

The film traces the lives of three gay Palestinian men, Louie, Abdu, and Fares.  Most of the attention is given to Louie, 33.  He does odd jobs off the books to survive illegally in Tel Aviv, but has to stay out of sight of police. He spends some time in the Jaffa area.  At one point he goes to a hidden disco party, barely visible to filmmakers.

Louie (and then the others) apply for asylum.  After some setbacks, at the end Louie finally gets asylum in a northern European country (probably Sweden) and starts a new life.

Here is a 2015 video, 5 min, from CNN Business, “Gay 24-year-old: I’ll be deported, then killed”.  Living in Edmonton. Alberta, Canada wanted to deport him because before coming to Canada he had literally been a member of Hamas as part of his family.  According to comments, he was eventually resettled in America.

CNN Business reports on asylum seeker from West Bank in Canada

I looked into the possibility of hosting an (LGBT) asylum seeker(s) (working with DC Center Global) starting in the summer of 2016 when I was still living in an inherited house in Arlington VA.  This possibility remained active until the spring of 2017 (after Trump took office) but it turned out I downsized and sold out in the fall of 2017.  Things have changed since then (the pandemic for starters) but later on I’ll give more details on exactly why I have handled certain things the way I have.

Generally, religious or tribal subcultures with a history of difficulties of survival themselves tend to be more likely to be vitriolic with homophobia, which, however masked by religious dogma, represents a concern that the tribe will not be able to continue reproducing itself. 

Now UkraineTakeShelter, started by two students at Harvard, would match perspective hosts to refugees from Ukraine, and there are some coming to the United States.  It is unlikely that a smaller one-bedroom condo would be suitable in most cases.  With refugees (as opposed to asylum seekers) social service organizations and congregations usually try to raise money to place families in new apartment complexes. (As of May 26 the site reports an “issue with Google”, not sure what that is about.)

(Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 12 noon EDT by John W. Boushka)

Author: Jboushka

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