And, it has to be said, no one was more outraged than OutRage!
, the militant homosexual rights
pressure group. So what did Lord Jakobovits say?
The full title of the article in question was Ex-Chief Rabbi endorse genetic engineering to stop homosexuality: Progressives join gays in attack on Lord Jakobovits
; credited to Valerie Monchi, it appeared prominently on the front page. Jakobovits was not only an authority on this discipline, he might in a sense be said to have founded it. His 1955 doctoral thesis was on Jewish medical ethics
; this was subsequently published as a book.
At that time, scientists were exploring the concept of the so-called gay
gene. It is routine in Orthodox Judaism for senior rabbis to make halachic pronouncements on important social issues, and Jakobovits said simply that he saw no "moral objection" against the application of genetic engineering to overcome what he alluded to as the affliction of homosexuality.
On June 23, 1993, the Jewish Chronicle
newspaper reported these words of wisdom, and this was like a red rag to a bull. Peter Tatchell, the founder of OutRage! attacked the Chief Rabbi Emeritus as a homophobe
(nothing unusual there), but went on to accuse him of echoing Nazi theories
. True bigots never tire of parroting this kind of nonsense; it is well known that Adolf Hitler was both a vegetarian and a fanatical non-smoker. Does that make vegetarian Paul McCartney
a Nazi fellow traveller, or your doctor when he tells you point blank to give up smoking?
Incredibly, Tatchell went on to claim: "The tyranny of political correctness means that those of us who are fighting homophobia are constantly having to waste time explaining and justifying our tactics when we could be getting on with the task of challenging the bigots who are wrecking our lives".
It remains to be seen how a holy man giving directions to his flock wrecks the lives of those who champion the practice of unnatural sex.
Eventually, after Tatchell and OutRage! were accused of anti-Semitism, he wrote to the Jewish Chronicle
to attempt to cool things off, but twenty years on with the Jewish lobby in decline and the organised homosexual movement more powerful than it has ever been, even senior rabbis have to think twice before daring to tell uncomfortable truths, though this was something Immanuel Jakobovits was never afraid to do. This extended to the situation in the Middle East; he called for the recognition of the rights of the Palestinians at a time when there was no kudos for any Jewish holy man in doing so.
Immanuel Jakobovits died October 31, 1999 at the reasonably advanced age of 78. He will be remembered for many things, but probably none more so than the mock outrage that was generated around his comments as reported twenty years ago today.