On June 8, an estimated 250,000 people participated in the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. The theme of the event was The Community Makes History - a reference to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community's progress towards acceptance by the community in Israel. Tourists came from around to world to help celebrate this joyous event.
On the same day and only a few miles away in Gaza, an Arab man was executed by three bullets to the chest because he was suspected of being a homosexual. And as this man was gunned down with the full approval of religious and secular Arab leaders, a television comedy about gay people in the Gaza Strip was being attacked and its creators vilified for insulting what were called Arab and Islamic values.
The program was called "Out of Focus" and Mousa Shurrab, the comedian behind it, is in deep trouble despite quickly withdrawing it and issuing a grovelling apology. "We apologise to all our viewers" and "The program was deleted shortly after it was posted. We made a mistake which we regret", Shurrab and the other creators of the show, said on Facebook.
The whole thing was meant as a joke but there was a huge outcry. There is no room for comedy and satire in Muslim societies much less even the merest sympathetic or understanding word for homosexuality.
But withdrawing the program and apologising for it did not stop the furious response on social media.
"What kind of an apology is this after you have offended all religious and cultural values for the sake of fame" and, "Removing the video does not exonerate you from this moral crime", were just two of the deluge of comments which were essentially versions of these posts. Others were even uglier and threatened violence and even death. The show's makers were accused of "sexual abnormality" and authorities were urged to take action and they didn't wait a second.
The Hamas Interior Ministry quickly dragged one of the producers in for questioning and they have announced that they are still investigating the matter. The news agency which was accused of producing the show, did its utmost to distance itself saying that they had never authorised the show for broadcast and that someone had leaked it to social media.
"One of the actors posted the show on social media with our logo and we reserve the right to pursue legal action against those responsible for this illegal act," the agency said in a statement, adding that they were deeply sorry for "harming our people and their values".
In Palestinian and Arab society, homosexuality is denounced and stigmatised. Not only are homosexual acts illegal, severe punishments are handed out to even suspected homosexuals. Dozens of gay Palestinians and other Arabs have fled to Israel because of their well-founded fear of not just persecution and harassment, but torture and murder.
The execution or murder (as if there is a difference!) of actual or even suspected gays in Muslim countries happens frequently. In areas Islamic State controls or has controlled, suspected gay men have been flung off tall buildings while others have been stoned to death. One man in Syria who miraculously survived being pushed off a tall building was finished off with a stoning.
Recently, the BBC online magazine published the personal story of a 24-year old gay Iraqi man under the chilling heading, "Why my own father would have let IS (Islamic State) kill me". Identified only as Taim, the young man wrote about how he managed to escape from his own family and of his difficult journey to the UK.
"In our society, being gay means death. When ISIS kills gays, most people are happy because they think that we are sick," he wrote.
While he was at university in Iraq, Muslim students discovered he was gay and then began a reign of terror. He was kicked, punched, bashed and threatened with worse - and this was before ISIS controlled the area in which he lived. He knew that if his father knew about his terrible secret it would mean a death sentence. Islamic families consider relatives who are, or might be, gay, as deserving of an "honour" killing to remove this perversion in the name of Allah.
Taim reported in his BBC article, "ISIS are also professional when it comes to tracking down gay people. They hunt them down one by one. When they capture people, they go through his phone and his contacts and Facebook friends. They are trying to track down every gay man. And it's like dominoes. If one goes, the others will be taken down too."
Taim continued, "It's devastating to see the public reaction to the killings", adding "You should see the Facebook comments after they post videos of the killings: 'We hate ISIS but when they do things like this, we love them. God bless you ISIS' and 'I am against ISIS but I am totally with ISIS when they kill gays' and 'Amazing news. This is the least that gays deserve' and 'The most horrible crime on earth is homosexuality. Good job ISIS' ".
The Washington Post (USA) has published an article headed "The Islamic State's shocking war on gays" and it reported how ISIS has posted "a non-stop catalogue of atrocities against gay people living under their watch" and "The group released numerous videos appearing to show the execution of supposed homosexuals". In one month alone, the newspaper reported, there had been more than two dozen executions of supposed gay men and women.
In January 2015, ISIS killed nine men and a 15 year old boy suspected of being gay in a Syrian town they controlled and also released images showing their fighters pushing accused homosexuals off a building in the Iraqi city of Mosul. When one alleged gay man in the Syrian town of Palmyra was about to be shoved off the roof of a hotel after ISIS officials ruled that he must die, he begged to be shot in the head instead. His plea was ignored and he fell to his death.
A young Syrian man who fled and found sanctuary in the USA was quoted as saying, "At the executions, hundreds of townspeople, including children, cheer jubilantly as (if) at a wedding." He added Arab gays were also frightened of refugee camps as they were bullied, assaulted and raped there as well because it was not just ISIS and other fundamentalist groups that were brutally homophobic, it was the whole Islamic society.
Yet despite this open and even proud boasting about anti-gay crackdowns in Muslim societies, western LGBT activists have remained conspicuously silent. Their gay brothers and sisters in the Islamic world are wondering why - after all, no fewer than 40 out of 57 Muslim-majority countries or territories have laws that criminalise homosexuality, prescribing punishments ranging from fines to public whippings, very long jail sentences or death.
During the last northern hemisphere summer LGBT communities in Europe and North America celebrated Rainbow Pride but not one single march protested the inhumane treatment of gays under Muslim regimes.
Chicago's Dyke's March ejected marchers who carried rainbow flags with the Jewish Star of David because this was labelled "offensive" and this was supposed to be an "inclusive" event. Canada's left-liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined Toronto's Pride Parade and wished "Happy Pride to Allah" - a sentiment which would have him killed by ISIS and other fundamentalist Muslims as a gross and unforgivable insult - while in the USA marches did not make one single mention of the mass murder of 49 gays in an Orlando Florida nightclub by a self-confessed ISIS jihadist whose monstrous crime has been explained away as the act of somebody mentally deranged with a deliberate avoidance of his documented ISIS inspiration. US gay pride marches concentrated on attacking Trump, loudly proclaiming that "Black Lives Matter" and condemning Christian churches for any sentiment in favour of traditional marriage which is seen as anti-gay prejudice.
In the New York Pride march, Trump administration officials were called "queer bashers" but not a single thought was given to gays living in fear in Muslim communities.
When gay fashion icons Domenico Dolce and Stafano Gabbana said that they opposed gay marriage, they faced a storm of criticism and calls for a ban on their brand. But there has never ever been any call from LGBT organisations across Europe and North America - and Australia for that matter - for campaigns to boycott goods from Islamic countries despite the fact that gays there are attacked, abused and even murdered. Some gay activists in Australia have enthusiastically joined in the boycott of Israeli goods despite Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East and the only country supportive of gay people.
There were no protests against Iran which recently arrested 30 gays in a night raid and submitted them to a "sodomy test", none against the murder of Bangladeshi gay bloggers and none against the torture and imprisonment of gays in Turkey.
For the official LGBT establishment, sympathy and support for gays stops at the borders of Muslim countries lest they be accused of - shock, horror - the vile crime of Islamophobia.
Very largely, the left-liberal mainstream media has been complicit in this blackout of Muslim assaults against gay people in the Middle East and elsewhere. Like the western LGBT establishment, most of the media shamelessly ignores this persecution because they fear being described as Islamophobic.