The “anti-pinkwashing” campaign continues in all its irony.

Israel is to be “featured” at the annual Equality Forum on May 3-6 in Philadelphia, based on Israel’s record on gay issues.  Israel, of course, is the only nation in the Middle East where homosexuality is not punished, much less punished with prison or worse as in some countries.

That Israel gets positive press coverage based on its treatment of homosexuality is a thorn in the side of anti-Israel leftist activists, which has given rise to the charge of “pinkwashing.”  See my prior posts:

No surprisingly, a protest campaign is being mounted against the focus on Israel in the Equality Forum (emphasis in original):

The Equality Forum (http://equalityforum.com/), an annual LGBTQ conference held in Philadelphia, has announced that Israel is their featured nation for 2012, and they have invited the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, to deliver the keynote speech.

Ambassador Oren, who personally has an atrocious record of supporting Israel’s war crimes and was the object of a demonstration by students in 2010 at UC Irvine (the Irvine 11), has no business delivering the keynote speech at a conference dedicated to social justice and equality.  This year’s Equality Forum conference, which is partnered with the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, is a flagrant form of Pinkwashing….

Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or PQBDS, a coalition of Palestinian LGBTQ groups, has released a statement in which they call for a boycott of the Equality Forum 2012.  (http://www.pinkwatchingisrael.com/blog/2012/03/13/inequality-forum-2012/)

Please write to the Executive Director of the Equality Forum, Malcolm Lazin (mlazin@equalityforum.com), and the Chair of the Board, Professor Debra Blair (dblair@temple.edu), to tell them not to allow the Equality Forum to pinkwash Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Feel free to use the letter below – or to write your own!

 

The “anti-pinkwashing” movement, however, is receiving push-back from those who recognize the absurdity of the gay rights movement siding with those who actively abuse gays:

Israel has some legal recognition of the LGBT community. It accepts marriage equality from other nations, it was one of the first nations to accept gays in the military, has a gay tourism campaign, gives government funds to LGBT organizations and, when a hate crime happened at the Tel Aviv LGBT Community Center, the prime minister, a conservative hawkish member of parliament (the Knesset), visited to assure the LGBT community that the government would not tolerate hate crimes against them. In the Middle East, and a nation with a strong religious right-wing itself, this is very progressive.

Compare that with the Palestinian state and culture. The culture is so hateful to LGBT people that any LGBT activism is limited due to the very possible chance of violence. There is little if any support within the Palestinian authority for any LGBT issues. Hate crimes against gay people happen regularly and, in fact, many LGBT Palestinians move to Israel for safety. Then there is the issue of honor killings. When a family believes it has been badly shamed, its members feel they have the right to kill. This has happened with families with gay children before. So by supporting the Palestinians, one is supporting an anti-equality cause, if not supporting hate crimes themselves.

Israel should indeed be applauded for being the one place in the Middle East that is a relative safe haven for LGBT people. Our community’s first priority is for the safety of our members. Can anyone state that being openly LGBT in the Palestinian territory is safe? No, you cannot.

I’ll follow up as the Equality Forum approaches.