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Queers Boycott: LGBTQI people and friends for BDS against Israel
by Queers Boycott
Sunday Jul 5th, 2009 8:29 AM
A new list was created to facilitate relations between LGBTQI people and their friends around the world interested in solidarity with Palestinians by learning, promoting and actualizing the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
About The BDS Initiative

The Nakba (1948's ethnic cleansing of Palestine during the formation of Israel) still occurs for 61+ years to this very day. Millions of Palestinian are living as stateless refugees. Gaza is the world's largest open prison, forcefully separated even from the West Bank. The West Bank itself is divided into separate segregated areas, sometimes even sole cities - by the apartheid wall, apartheid (Jewish only) roads, and a set of blockades and checkpoints.

The BDS movement is a non-governmental, grassrooted and promoting discourse and democracy movement that has very clear goals:
1. Ending Israel's occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

The BDS initiative is the most open and available way for almost ANYONE around the world to practice solidarity with the Palestinians, who are without doubt the oppressed side within the power relations. The initiative was signed by 171 Palestinian organizations on July 9th 2005 and is clearly a legitimate, non-violent, effective form of struggle that is endorsed widely by the Palestinian society. It is growing fast particularly after the 2009/8 Gaza massacre. One of the best ways to learn about it is this comprehensive book about BDS, compiled by the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and published in 2007.

Engaging in "peace" - oriented options, instead of solidarity-oriented ones does not solve things either, but rather raises a set of other huge questions. For if you are not following a Palestinian agenda - you are following your own western(?)-specific one, and being queer or radical does not free you from that.

Anti-semitism should be fought without compromise. That is something the BDS movement is very clear about. It is Zionism and Israel that are being opposed, not being Jewish. The fact that there are some pro-Palestinian protests (in Europe mostly) that include some anti-semitism elements only testifies to the importance of joining a truly anti-any-form-of racism initiative.

Queer folks may question why should LGBTQI people around the world support the Palestinian call for BDS against Israel while Palestinian LGBTQI people are being oppressed by the Palestinian society. The best answer would be that such an approach just makes you politically paralyzed in regard to protesting Israel's racist regime and occupation!

This is a point that had also caught the attention of Palestinian LGBTQI politics - and it has received an answer through this important statement by Aswat boycotting the 2006 World Pride event in Jerusalem. Aswat's statement also expresses protest about the extortions done by Shabak - Israeli General Security Services - of Palestinian LGBTQI people, making them work for Israel against their will and against their own people. It also protests some of the atrocities done by Israel against all Palestinians, including the apartheid wall, that annexes Palestinian lands and destroys their livelihood.

On A More Practical Note

Since the list does not sign on anything, but only acts as a network, anyone who's committed to solidarity with Palestinians can join!

A few notes on how queers can be involved in solidarity with Palestinians:

1. It is well known within the experience of the BDS movement that distinct groups may develop an atmosphere, or set of assumptions, that the boycott call does not apply to them, because they are dissidents, different or are way too oppressed and so forth.

Queers can give the boycott of Israel its relevancy for LGBTQI communities!

2. Counter Israeli and Zionist ever growing attempts to PR for Israel through and at the expense of LGBTQI issues.

Much of it is summarized in this very good QuAIA page: http://queersagainstapartheid.org/gayisrael/

There's also a report about June 2009 iPride conference protest. So, the logic goes - doing nothing we let Zionism take advantage of queer issues in a whole racist way and for continuing its crimes and atrocities. This part has been going now for years.

3. There is a new Israeli project of promoting gay & lesbian tourism to Israel, violating of course the boycott call. This is very much related to PRing for Israel - as in the iPride case.

It brings the necessity of queer activism to counter that with a campaign to boycott LGBTQI tourism to Israel.

There is going to be an IGLTA conference in October 2009 in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem - after which a boost in gay & lesbian tourism to Israel is expected.

The Aguda, historically the Israeli first and most prominent "GLBT" (actually it's pretty exclusively gay male!) organization, have made another step to being completely irrelevant - it is now promoting the IGLTA conference and gay tourism to Israel in its web site - probably for funding from Tel Aviv municipality. This is supposed to be an activism organization!

We need to get ready, counter it, and at least give that conference the context of blunt violation of the Palestinian BDS call.


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