From a different section of the same article in Ha'aretz.
The day before, the mass-circulation Maariv newspaper published an extensive article detailing how 'Over the past decade homosexuals have turned from an exotic detour on [talk-show host] Dan Shilon's panel, to the kings of prime-time.' Among the gallery of famous gays were two of the 20 Survivor contestants, one of them Arik Alper.
'To me,' he told the camera, 'being the last survivor is to be the most popular kid in the fourth grade, which I never was.'
Say what you will about Israel, this place has developed an exceptional tolerance for behavior traditionally deemed deviant. One of the judges on Kochav Nolad (A Star is Born), Israel's version of American Idol, is Dana International, a post-op transsexual singing star whose unapologetic exuberance persuaded Israelis to choose her as their representative to the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest, in which she took first place.
Perhaps a certain tolerance, or predilection, for flamboyantly deviant behavior devolves from the way Israel is itself seen as deviant in its region and in the world. In this world, all Israelis have a certain otherness about them, a statistical minority status.
I know that I often seem critical of Israel in this blog, but I also know, and want to make clear, that as a Gay Catholic Man, there is no other country (apart from perhaps Turkey) in the Middle East that I would be allowed to live an open life.
Without in anyway condemning Arab societies, I find it impossible not to see Israel as a heroic venture. Should I be ashamed to say that at age 16, Leon Uris' Exodus changed my life?
That's why I feel free to be as open in criticising Israel as I do my own country.
Because I love it.