The Regressive Left on steroids.
A Wider Bridge is an Israeli group that promotes not only LGBTQ rights, it does so in the context of promoting cooperation across religious and ethnic lines.
When A Wider Bridge was scheduled to hold a Sabbath event at the Creating Change conference in Chicago, the invitation initially was revoked under pressure from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions groups, as A Wider Bridge described in this Press Release:
A group of American and Israeli LGBTQ Jews that was scheduled to appear at the largest conference of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer activists in the United States this week has been booted from the event because of pressure by anti-Israeli activists, the group says.
U.S. nonprofit A Wider Bridge, which builds connections between American and Israeli LGBTQ Jews, was set to host a reception with leaders of Jerusalem’s Open House at the Creating Change conference, which is scheduled to take place in Chicago January 20 – 22.
Last year the gathering, which is convened by the National LGBTQ Task Force, had 3,800 people attend.
Conference organizers had months ago approved the proposal by A Wider Bridge to hold a reception following Shabbat services on Friday night. The American organization builds connections between U.S. and Israeli LGBTQ Jews and was hosting the leaders of Israel’s premier gay organization, the Jerusalem Open House, said Arthur Slepian, A Wider Bridge’s founder and executive director.
The National LGBTQ Task Force, which cancelled the appearance, claimed that it “cancelled the reception when it became clear to us it would be intensely divisive rather than the community-building, social atmosphere which is the norm for Friday night at the conference.”
The decision was heavily criticized:
The most recent such episode, a stain on the LGBT community, is the willingness by the National LGBTQ Task Force (Task Force) to cave into demands from radical queer activists to ban a Jewish organization from hosting a reception at this week’s upcoming Creating Change conference. This is not the type of change for which the Task Force stands, and is a disgraceful act of capitulation. Unfortunately, this spinelessness is not new at these conferences, as in recent years the organizers have allowed trans-exclusionary radical feminist lesbians (TERFs) to organize, a group of queer women of color to take the stage to prevent the Denver mayor from speaking, and just last week a fiasco with the invitation/de-invitation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to participate in the conference. The Task Force is allowing the loudest voices to quash dissent and inhibit dialogue, the kind of dialogue that is necessary for progress. Placating those radical voices does not benefit the queer people most in need, nor the community as a whole.
After the outcry, the decision was reversed.
Why would a U.S. LBGTQ conference ban a similar Israeli, pro-peace, pro-understanding group?
Because part of the BDS war on Israel is what is called anti-pinkwashing. It’s an attempt to turn something good — that Israel has by far the most tolerant and accomodating policies in the Middle East — into something bad. We’ve covered the claim of pinkwashing long before even most pro-Israel advocates had heard of it:
There is a concerted effort to undermine an indisputable truth — Israel is the safest, most-welcoming, most open society for LGBT individuals in the Middle East.
The term “Pinkwashing” is a growing part of the anti-Israel movement’s attack on Israel, by claiming that Israel promotes its positive gay rights record in order to (pink) wash its alleged crimes against Palestinians. (There also are Greenwashing and Redwashing claims made against Israel.)
The pinkwashing movement, which has a particular hold among anti-Israel students and faculty on campuses, seeks to turn Israel’s positive gay rights record into something bad. The pinkwashing movement is nearly silent, at the same time, on the plight of Palestinian gays, who are relentlessly persecuted and often flee for their lives.
Whenever I explain the claim of “pinkwashing” to people, I usually get a blank stare of disbelief, followed by an expression along the lines of “are these people crazy?”
Well, yes, but that’s not the full explanation. The pinkwashing charge is essential for BDS on U.S. college campuses because BDS has trouble squaring its support for regimes (including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, not to mention most Arab countries) which abuse and persecute gays with BDS’s attempt to co-opt the progressive movement.
Hence, the pinkwashing claim that Israel’s promotion of its gay-friendly policies is actually a greater evil than the abuse heaped on gays in areas controlled by Israel’s enemies.
I explained it all in my first post on the subject in 2011, The demented Israeli “pinkwashing” charge:
Every time one thinks it is impossible for Israel haters to come out with a more bizarre justification for hating Israel, someone comes up with an even more bizarre justification.
Today’s exhibit is City University of New York Professor Sara Schulman, who is feverishly anti-Israeli to the extent of advocating the boycott of Israeli universities based on the standard Islamist-Leftist accusation of Israeli Apartheid.
Schulman is a gay rights activist who obviously faces a problem when it comes to hating Israel. Just about every country which hates Israel also hates gays. Israel is an island of gay tolerance and acceptance in a sea of hate….
The pinkwashing charge is a perfect example of the depravity of the Islamist-Leftist Anti-Israel Coalition, in which Western leftists and in this case gay activists, willingly side with people who would kill them or at least beat them if not for the fact that they are joined together in hatred of Israel.
Seems insane, but it has it’s genesis in academia and the theories of “intersectionality” we have explored here many times.
In the A Wider Bridge ban effort, Seattle University associate law professor Dean Spade made the case for banning the Israeli group as part of an “anti-pinkwashing” effort. James Kirchick at The Tablet explains:
Proponents of intersectionality have elevated its categorical paradigms of all-encompassing, omnipresent “oppression,” and its attendant, identity-based hierarchies of virtue, to that of a Weltanschauung, a new morality to replace the basic, classical liberal principles of freedom, individual rights, and equality before the law on which Western civilization is based. Because of intersectionality’s insistence that identity politics trumps all, reflexive condemnation replaces reasoned discussion, and those claiming to represent a higher good smother the rights of individuals. Likewise, intersectionality compels one to adopt agendas that have nothing to do with his or her own. Worse, in the name of “solidarity” with other supposedly “oppressed” groups, it leads to alliances with those actively hostile to one’s cause.
This is how a gay rights organization led by well-meaning progressives can be duped into disinviting private citizens of the one country in the Middle East respecting the humanity of gays, all at the behest of people who use cultural relativism to excuse Muslim societies that throw homosexuals from the tops of buildings. Denouncing A Wider Bridge as an “Israel advocacy organization,” Spade accused it of promoting a “regime producing colonization and genocide,” a morally scandalous statement not just for its tacit comparison of Jews to Nazis, but also its deliberate elision of the very real genocides taking place in nearby Islamic lands. In a world of people who want to murder them for being Jewish, denying the rights of Jews—and Jews alone—to live their own national life is a moral evil no different than targeting LGBT people or anyone else for being who they are—and that would be true even if Israel wasn’t the sole bastion of LGBT rights in the Middle East.
Accepting the tenets of intersectionality inevitably lets the most radical and unscrupulous elements of any community badger and threaten their way to the top. Within progressive institutions, battles over anti-Israel boycotts are unfortunately a dime a dozen these days, but what makes this one particularly noteworthy was how quickly the Task Force’s leadership folded in response to a professor at a third rate law school and a pair of androgynous poets with a Twitter account. Dean Spade, the chief instigator of the controversy, is a negligible figure even within the already rarefied world of transgender activism where he fashions himself a heavyweight….
Spade possesses an important talent, however, which is that he can effectively speak the language of intersectionality to audiences primed to accept its bullshit precepts, as the Task Force’s initial acquiescence to his bullying behavior indicates. The only reason he didn’t succeed is because his adversaries, A Wider Bridge and its many friends in the LGBT and allied community, were vigilant, unapologetic about what they believed, and too numerous to ignore.
The “anti-pinkwashing” movement exhibits the worst tendencies of the “regressive left” as aptly explained in this video (h/t @CHSommers)(I encourage you to watch the entire video, but I’ve marked it to start where the discussion of the leftist hate of Israel starts):
“Another common cause of the Regressive Left is Palestine. Perhaps originating from Karl Marx’s disdain for Jews, or perhaps an unrelated anti-Semitism, Israel has come to signify all what the Regressive Left stands for. Muslim victims? Check. Western involvement? Check. History of Imperialism? Check. A Jewish conspiracy? Check.
The Israeli-Palestine conflict has thus become the main cause of the Regressive Left. As it confirms all their prejudices, fulfills all their prophecies, and nurtures all their righteousness. It is not because they care about human lives, there are countless tragedies and situations far worse in scale and history than Israel-Palestine. Nor is it because they care about Muslim lives…. [H]ating and opposing Israel provides them with the one legitimate channel to express their anti-Semitism under the guise of anti-Zionism.”
(added) For more on the alliance of the Regressive Left with anti-Western, anti-Semitic Islamists, be sure to read The Masochists Who Defend Sadists: The Regressive Left in Theory and Practice:
I think they hated the idea of the West and of Empire, so they made a practical and intellectual alliance with people who shared their hatred. It must be remembered, too, that the resistance and its fighters and ideas served as the forerunner of the Islamic State. The Western Left’s solidarity with Islamism and fascism is, I would argue, the Western Left’s greatest shame, at least in my lifetime….
The regressive left refers to the nominally liberal writers and intellectuals who have stopped defending liberal principles, and now expend considerable energy excusing and defending the Islamist movement and its vicious assault on secular and Muslim societies. The term has been stuck to writers like Glenn Greenwald, CJ Werleman, Chris Hedges, and a cluster of outlets like Salon, The Intercept, Alternet and countless others in the US and Britain….
In doing so, the regressive left has abandoned the people in the Muslim world it is supposed to be defending: the Muslim liberals, the Muslim feminists, the Muslim homosexuals, the ex-Muslims and atheists, the secular bloggers in Bangladesh, and the raped and tortured Yazidis, to name just a few….
The regressive left is sinister and ahistorical; it is led by masochists who defend sadists; it is an attempt to make the world safe for fascism. It must be resisted and discredited.
When A Wider Bridge held its Sabbath event, about 200 protesters blocked the entrance and disrupted the event, as The Times of Israel reports:
Throughout the rally, those protesting bellowed a series of chants, including “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and and “Hey, hey, ho, ho, occupation has got to go.”
Along with blocking entry for people who wanted to participate in the reception, the protestors managed to infiltrate the conference hall at one point and overtook the stage, preventing Israelis from speaking.
We put together this video from several different sources to give you a flavor of the protest:
The disruption of the A Wider Bridge Sabbath event was the regressive left on steroids, because one of the groups leading the disruption was the Chicago chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.
We’ve addressed how JVP is one of the leading pro-boycott groups in the country, and how it provide Jewish cover to the BDS movement.
In this case, JVP actually helped organize the protests:
Ben Lorber from JVP-Chicago, who lists himself as JVP’s campus ccordinator, bragged about the large JVP-Chicago and JVP turnout for the protest:
Let this all sink in at several levels.