Gay Ole' Israel
By Tali Shapiro at Jul 09, 2009
Disclaimer: In the following article I refer to the Israeli GLBTQI communities as a Zionist collective. One should bear in mind that there are many Israeli queers who are active anti-Zionists, as groups or as individuals. They are, of course, a minority within a minority.
In a reality where Avigdor Lieberman is the gay community's only hope of legalizing gay marriage, the claim of Israel being a democracy, which upholds human rights, may make sense. It's true that not all is black and white, and I could have lived happily within the Ethnocratic bubble of Zionism, but I choose to have my eyes open. Indeed, you'll find that Hasbara comes in many different colors- all the colors of the rainbow.
The World Out Games - Overriding the GLBTQI Agenda
In conversations now arising in our diapered micro-movement, Boycott from Within, it's come to our attention that Israel has been invited to the World Out Games (a cultural/sports event aimed at the GLBTQI communities and the people who love them). It's quite obvious that letter writing is a top action on our list, as we basically need to inform the world that there are Israelis asking for the boycott.
Seemingly, there is a slight dilemma in cases such as this; Our human rights goal seems to override the GLBTQI agendas. I'd like to address this through a previous case of boycotting of a GLBTQI event in Israel. More over, I'd like to prove how that claim is just another fallacious logic brought to us courtesy of Zionist propagandists and apologists.
Greyson Vs. Zionism
"John Greyson, a leading filmmaker of gay-themed cinema, had verbally accepted an invitation to premier one of his films in June at the Tel Aviv International LGBT film festival, organized by TLVFest. Last month, Greyson sent organizers a cancellation letter saying "Israeli apartheid week" - an annual series of anti-Israel events in Canada - "helped clarify" his thoughts. Not joining the "growing boycott movement against Israeli apartheid," he said, "is unthinkable, impossible." " [Ha'aretz]
We applaud Greyson, and working on formating thank you letters, as we speak. The Zionist part of the Israeli gay community, however, was not so pleased. Yair Hochner, the festival's Israeli-born organizer had this to say:
"What Greyson has done is an act of violence both against Israeli gays as well as [gay] Palestinians, for whom this festival is a rare ray of light..."
Hochner's correspondence with Greyson is documented in this article and reveals the good ole' Zionist tactics of debate, complete with ad-hominem and demagogy:
"Noting Hamas' popularity in the West Bank and Gaza, Hochner replied to Greyson: "I hope so, but your dream is very far away," adding, "Like the terrorists and like the Israeli army, you have decided to blow up a bridge instead of building one." "
Ha'aretz ever-so-subtly sides with Hochner and explains:
"Hochner noted Geryson had asked his help in arranging a screening in Ramallah's PA-funded film house. Homosexuality is a crime in the Palestinian Authority, and sodomy carries a ten-year jail term. Hamas, which rules Gaza, has an overtly anti-gay stance based on Islamic law."
More from the Zionist block of the gay community, is this slick twisting of terminology:
"As an outspoken Israeli gay and civil rights activist, I am puzzled at Greyson's ability to so slickly sidestep the blatant gay apartheid in Gaza," said Jonathan Danilowitz, an activist in the gay support group Tehila, who immigrated to Israel from Johannesburg in 1971."
Apparently "representatives of the Canadian gay community" were also mighty peeved. I ask myself if they ever contacted the "representatives Palestinian gay community":
"James Viloria from Montreal, the author of the influential, highbrow blog "Gay Persons of Color," said of Canada's Israel apartheid week: "I declined invitations [to the events] feeling I couldn't participate in a movement that vilified the only country in the Middle East in which gay people have legal rights." Viloria, a Filipino by origin, added: "I'm not sure what motivates protest that takes as its enemy a nation that protects not only gay Israelis, but also gay Palestinians.""
"Greyson's actions also angered Fred Litwin from Ottawa, author of the GayandRight blog, which has recently been elected as among the top five Canadian gay-themed blogs. "Just when does he think he'll be able to show his film in Ramallah?" Litwin told Haaretz. "It would be interesting to see him show it in Gaza.""
The Foreign Ministry Adopts the LGBTQI Community
In a government that sits so many religious factions and other fascist-thinking parties, it really is commendable that the LGBTQI community has managed to earn so many freedoms for itself. Knowing what I know, however, one must always be suspicious of liberal actions on the part of the government. In Israel, more often than not, it's an unholy trade off:
"Group of athletes and artists to travel to Copenhagen for 2009 Wolrd Outgames with financial help of Foreign Ministry, which seeks to 'show world Israel's 'liberal, diverse face'... A Foreign Ministry official explained that the decision to financially support the delegation was motivated by the wish to help show to the world Israel's liberal and diverse face. "
It's important to note that the Foreign Ministry's financial support didn't go to a LGBTQI organization, but the Zionist organization Stand With Us. Not only does Stand With Us have a racist Zionist agenda, it also has it's own logic:
"GLBT rights are part of human rights, and when you see Israel, you see a country that has come so far in this area," program organizer Noa Meir said. "When people see that Israel is so progressive on this issue, they realize that it can't just be on this issue, and realize this must apply to Israel as a whole."
You can say a lot about Stand With Us, but one thing you can't say- they don't hide their motives:
"StandWithUs, an international not-for-profit organization headquartered in the United States, offers scholarships to students to run Israel advocacy schemes. Earlier this year, a group of 20 Tel Aviv University students and scholarship recipients — all of them straight — decided that GLBT rights were the perfect wedge issue to promote Israel to a generally anti-Zionist constituency."
Who's on Top?
There's a very strange phenomena within the Zionist Israeli GLBTQI activist community. It seems that the Zionist agenda overrides the humanist one. Maybe it's because the GLBTQI communities have achieved so much, and maybe this specific community has shrewdly spotted how it can be in favor with the government. However you flip the coin, the result is the powerful GLBTQI organizations focusing on advocating Zionism, instead of human rights:
"[Mike Hamel, chairman of the Israeli GLBT Association] said he receives many speaking invitations from a range of visiting groups, from Taglit-Birthright Israel to, recently, a group of visiting American Christian clergy. Discussion of the GLBT community is a chance "to show that unlike [the way] Israel is being portrayed, as a war-torn desert country, it has an active and diverse cultural life of which the GLBT community is part," Hamel said."
El Al - Is it Good for the Queers?
El Al is is the national airline of Israel, and it has a special role to play in Zionist-GLBTQI collaborative propaganda (for more Zionist propaganda, check out El Al's Wikipedia page):
"Israel's national airline markets special travel packages targeting European gay community in hopes of flooding Tel Aviv with tourists ahead of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in June.
The special packages will be marketed in a no less unique way: Thousands of gay Israelis surfing the Atraf dating website were urged to invite their homosexual friends from Europe to vacation in Israel and enjoy an array of events taking place during Gay and Lesbian Pride Month this June.
If the campaign is successful, hundreds, if not thousands of gay tourists from Europe are expected to flood the city for the first time since the pride parades started.
Tel Aviv's gay community welcomed the joint initiative with El Al.
El Al's spokesperson's office said the company "is cooperating with the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Hotel Association in a variety of offers for various crowds, in order to promote tourism to Israel""
Why Boycott Israeli GLBTQI Community?
The international GLBTQI communities may be very well impressed at all the love and attention lavished at its Israeli counterparts. These stories are not front page news, but as I collect them from the back pages of the mainstream media, it's easy to see that the Israeli government indeed treasures its Zionist GLBTQI communities:
"In stark contrast to the U.S. Army's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuality, the latest edition of the official Israel Defense Force's magazine B'Machane has a center spread on gay and lesbian officers. A picture shows a new officer getting his stripes, his commander's hand on one shoulder and his life partner's hand on the other."
It's also very easy to see the ulterior motives, as Jews from across the globe are apparently very proud at Israel's international relations savvy:
"This liberal side of Israeli society is starting to arouse the interest of the hasbarah — Hebrew for public relations — lobby. For what is believed to be the first time, an Israel advocacy group has run a major campaign showcasing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to non-Jewish opinion-shapers worldwide in a bid to improve Israel's image and distract from more contentious geopolitical issues."
The majority of the Israeli GLBTQI community is Zionist. It chooses to promote this murderous ideology in the name of the whole GLBTQI cause. Ignoring the fact that they are dispensable, when they outlive their usefulness, and that the Israeli government is only trending right:
"Etai Pinkas, a former Tel Aviv city council member who now heads the GLBT Pride Center, agrees that placing too much emphasis on the GLBT issue would be "like using Advil for a major pathological problem..." But he said it "would be wise" for Israel advocacy to showcase his community. Citing the 2001 Durban World Conference Against Racism... he recalled, "The only segment where Israel had any success was in relation to the GLBT world, especially as GLBT rights in the Arab world are violated.""
There are queer individuals, in Israel, who are anti-Zionist and are signatories and active members of Boycott from Within. They ask not to be invited to the The World Out Games.
After an eye-opening chat with a couple of the queer (I hope I got it right this time ;) ) members of Boycott from Within, it became obvious to me that I had a major gap in the latest of LGBTQI terminology. Though I believe we agree on the content (could be wrong), I may have stated it in a way, that to their sensitized ears may have sounded offensive. In order to right the wrongs and further communication, I've changed some of the terminology in the original article and bring to you one of the comments (hoping to bring in some more), exactly as it was written to me (check out the links, it's a brave new/old world out there):
This is obviously a very interesting subject for me too as a transgender woman and activist within the BDS movement.
I'm glad that you are also provoked and interested in it. I liked what you wrote - you touched the important issues, and I have a few remarks I'd like to share with you, and also to update you about things I have done so far.
- LGBT (and even more so GLBT - giving the males precedence!) is old history. It is now LGBTQI (Q - queers, I - intersex), and in some contexts people even add another Q (LGBTQIQ) for people who are questioning - but to our context LGBTQI is just fine.
- The use of the word "gay" to refer to the whole group - and especially to the anti-zionist minority within it - is unfair. Yes, there are ant-zionist gays, but the even they are probably also queers - people who oppose sex and gender categorization - and many of them are transgender and lesbian. See for instance the mostly anti-zionist community that goes to the DressUp and Rogatka queer events - not many sisgender (not transgender) gays in it. Queer also stands for the whole sometimes, and it is better to use it if you need to avoid the "LGBTQI" term.
- It is more accurate to talk about LGBTQI communities (in plural) or people. There isn't one community, and not everyone is in a community. Saying something like "The Israeli gay community was not so pleased" because Yair Hochner said something is very problematic. Talking about the Aguda and Mike Hamel as the entire community is also not right. The Aguda is promoting gay tourism to Israel (and the zionism that comes with it) in its website and activities (probably also for funding). This is an almost strictly gay male and certainly male-dominated organization. True, LGBTQI people deserve critisism as much as the general public, but not for the Aguda's "wrong-doings".
- It is better to call Boycott from Within a group (not a movement), as part of the BDS movement.
- I wouldn't say Lieberman is the hope to legalize gay marriage for anyone - but even more urgent: this liberal issue is not the most important issue for LGBTQI people and it efaces graver difficulties to suggest or imply that it is.
- I think we are not only asking not to be invited, but protest and demand to stop the gay tourism to Israel/pro-Israel propaganda within Out Games.
Some things I did recently regarding this issue:
Recently there was a protest against the iPride event organizaed by StandWithUs. I wrote about it here. I opened an international mailing list on queer boycott subjects - you can see the invite here. QUIT and Quaia are already in. You are of course invited to join.
I also responded to some iPride aftermath articles - in this article.