Labor Party enfant terrible Yael Dayan jolted Israel’s delicate governing coalition last week by asserting from the Knesset rostrum that the biblical heroes David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers.
Orthodox Knesset members walked out of the chamber in protest as Dayan, speaking in a debate on gay rights, quoted from David’s poem on the death of Jonathan: “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother, you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (II Samuel 1:26)
Dayan, daughter of the late Israeli war hero Moshe Dayan, went on to assert that the medieval sages and poets Yehuda Halevi and Shlomo Ibn Gvirol were also homosexuals.
Knesset member Yosef Azran of the Orthodox Sephardic Shas party urged the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to order Shas’ immediate secession from the coalition.
Yosef urged party members to remain cool, advising the Shas Knesset faction to address a strong letter of warning to the prime minister.
But Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin did not wait for such a letter. He sternly warned the left flank of his party, of which Dayan is a leading figure, that any further provocation would result in the breakup of the present coalition and the formation of a new government that would include the right-wing Tsomet party and National Religious Party instead of Shas.
Dayan said she had not expected to trigger a storm of protest.
“There are people who can’t bear the Bible being everyone’s heritage, not just their own,” she said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.