A magntiude 5.0 earthquake struck the Lebanon-Syria area on Feb. 15th, about 10 miles NE of Tyre, Lebanon, or about 45 miles NE of Haifa, Israel. This follows a 4.0 in the same general area on Feb. 11th. These are the latest in a series of earthquakes to hit the region, and there are fears that they are precursors to a major tremor.
Although the epicenter of the latest quakes was in Lebanon, Israel is still being blamed for them. Not by some Arabs or Muslims, but by some Jews.
This is not snark. See below.
Shas MK Shlomo Benizri blamed gays Wednesday for the earthquakes that have shaken the region in recent months, telling a Knesset plenum debate on local authorities' earthquake preparedness that government action on homosexuality would do much to prevent the tremors. Haaretz 20 Feb 2008
(Shas, for the five people left around here who don't know, is the ultra-Orthodox party led by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. It primarily attracts Sephardic Jews - Jews from Arab countries - and, unlike some of the other Ultra-Orthodox, does not see any religious barrier to Zionist aspirations; they are currently part of the governing coalition.)
"A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage," [Benizri] added, "would be to stop passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the State of Israel, which anyways causes earthquakes."
And you thought Huckabee was bad. At least he's not - yet - in the government. Fortunately, not many people seem to be listening. In 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the state must recognize the civil marriages of gay couples from Toronto, where gay marriage is legal. (Marriage rules in Israel are enormously complicated, but for this purpose it suffices to say that Israel generally recognizes marriages made in other countries, even if those marriages would not be valid if performed in Israel itself.)
Although Shas is in his coalition, Prime Minister Olmert reportedly declined to comment on Benizri's remarks. And just 10 days ago, the attorney general announced that same-sex couples will have the same adoption rights as other couples. So it's not likely the threat of more earthquakes will change anything. But it is a new low, even for Shas.
Shortly after the latest Lebanon quake, there was a 5.7 quake in the Balleny Islands region off Australia, and the next day there was a 6.1 near Potosi, Bolivia, a very conservative Catholic city. On the 20th, there was a 7.4 off the coast of Sumatra, another conservative area, Muslim this time. No word of any comment from Shas on these apparent signs of divine displeasure.