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Palestine | U.S.

Arab Queers say NO to Pinkwashing at the USSF
by via Arab Queers
Thursday Jun 17th, 2010 4:04 AM
We, the undersigned queer Arab organizations, are appalled by the US Social Forum’s decision to allow Stand with Us to utilize the event as a platform to pinkwash Israel’s crimes in the region. Stand with Us is cynically manipulating the struggle of queer people in the Middle East through its workshop entitled “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East.”
Stand with Us is a self-declared Zionist propaganda organization which describes itself as “an international education organization that ensures that Israel’s side of the story is told in communities, campuses, libraries, the media and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and thousands of pages of Internet resources” (http://bit.ly/b9eAc4).

Stand with Us has no connection with the LGBT movement in the Middle East apart from ties to Zionist Israeli LGBT organizations, yet it claims to speak for and about our movements. It has no credibility in our region, and as organizations working in and from the Middle East, we condemn its attempt to use us, our struggles, our lives, and our experiences as a platform for pro-Israeli propaganda.

Since Israel’s brutal wars on Gaza and Lebanon in 2006 and particularly after the recent unprovoked attack on the flotilla of activists going to Gaza, the Israeli government has found itself increasingly marginalized by international condemnations and weakened through the growing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. To remedy this, it has launched a massive PR campaign using organizations such as Stand with Us to convince the world that Israel is not a brutal settler-colony state, but rather a free democracy where human rights in general, and LGBT rights in particular, are respected and upheld. Stand With Us deceptively uses the language of LGBT and women’s rights to obscure the fact that institutionalized discrimination is enshrined within the state of Israel.

Our struggle is deeply intertwined with the struggle of all oppressed people, and we cannot accept that we are being used as a tool to discredit the Palestinian cause. Stand with Us would have everyone believe that the Palestinian cause is an unworthy one because of the homophobia that exists within Palestinian society, as if homophobia does not exist elsewhere, and as if struggles for justice are predicated on some sort of inherent “goodness” of the oppressed, rather than on the principles of freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, everywhere. Stand with Us would have us all compartmentalize our beliefs, lives, and identities so that solidarity with the queer struggle would preclude solidarity with others.

While Stand With Us is quick to point out the oppression of queer Palestinians under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, it conveniently forgets that those same queers are not immune to the bombs, blockades, apartheid and destruction wrought upon them daily by the Israeli government, and that Israel’s multi-tiered oppression hardly makes a distinction between straight and gay Palestinians.

We refuse to be instrumentalized by anyone, be it our own oppressive governments or the Zionist lobby hijacking our struggle to legitimize the state of Israel and its policies, thus providing even more fodder for our own governments to use against us. If you want to learn about our movements and struggles, engage with us, rather than with those who will use us as pawns in Israel’s campaign to pinkwash its crimes.

The inclusion of Stand With Us at the USSF is an egregious oversight on the part of the forum. We ask the forum to justify this inclusion given that it violates its own principles of anti-racism, uniting oppressed communities, prioritizing marginalized voices, and opposing US foreign policy. The USSF should be held accountable to its own standards. We look forward to hearing its plans to address the situation.

Helem
Lebanese Protection for LGBT
http://www.helem.net

Al-Qaws
For Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society
http://www.alqaws.org

ASWAT
Palestinian Gay Women
http://www.aswatgroup.org

Palestinian Queers for BDS
pqbds.wordpress.com

Comments  (Hide Comments)

http://www.standwithus.com/app/inews/view_n.asp?ID=1097

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In a limited sense, the case of William I. Robinson is over.

On Wednesday, he was notified that a faculty committee had found no "probable cause" to undertake a full investigation of complaints filed against him related to e-mail messages he sent to his students in which he compared Israelis and Nazis. Further, he was notified that the administration at the University of California at Santa Barbara had accepted the faculty members' analysis, and that the case was over -- without his ever having faced formal charges before a disciplinary committee.

Supporters of Robinson, a tenured professor of sociology, agreed with those findings. But they said that grievances filed over e-mail messages sent in January should have been seen immediately as baseless, and that allowing the case to linger for months endangered the academic freedom of Robinson and others.

"We're pleased, but this decision is too late," said Yousef K. Baker, a graduate student and one of the organizers of the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB. "I don't think it is enough for the university just to say that this case is terminated. The university needs to be held accountable for the chilling effect that their tardiness in doing what they have done now has created."

In a statement, Robinson said that he is waiting for “a public apology from the university as a first step in clearing my name after it has smeared my reputation and undermined my professional integrity.” He added that he plans to file a grievance over how he was treated in the case.

The case has attracted attention far beyond Santa Barbara, with the American Association of University Professors last month calling on the university to "pause" its inquiries because of the academic freedom issues involved. Cary Nelson, national president of the AAUP, said Wednesday night that "although I am pleased that the Robinson case has been closed, I am also concerned that unnecessary investigations of faculty exercising their academic freedom are having a serious chilling effect on our more vulnerable or less courageous colleagues."

The dispute dates to an e-mail message that Robinson sent to the approximately 80 students in January in a course about sociology and globalization. The e-mail contained an article criticizing the Israeli military's actions in Gaza. Part of the e-mail was an assemblage of photos from Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews and from Israel's actions in Gaza. Students were invited to look at the "parallel images." A message from Robinson argued that Gaza would be like "Israel's Warsaw."

In February, the Anti-Defamation League's Santa Barbara office wrote to Robinson to protest the e-mail and to urge him to repudiate it. "While your writings are protected by the First Amendment and academic freedom, we rely upon our rights to say that your comparisons of Nazis and Israelis were offensive, ahistorical and have crossed the line well beyond legitimate criticism of Israel," the letter said. It went on to say that the "tone and extreme views" in his e-mail were "intimidating to students," and that using his university e-mail to send "material that appears unrelated to" his course violated university standards for faculty members.

Following that letter, two students in the course dropped the class and filed complaints against Robinson. One student wrote that she felt "nauseous" upon reading the e-mail, and felt it was inappropriate. A second student complaint accusing Robinson of being unprofessional -- also from a student who dropped the course after receiving the e-mail -- said that Robinson has "clearly stated his anti-Semitic political views in this e-mail."

Under Santa Barbara's faculty governance system, such complaints go to a "charges officer" and then -- if they are serious -- a committee may be formed, somewhat like a grand jury, to determine whether formal charges should be brought against the professor. Robinson and his supporters have maintained that the e-mail was so clearly covered by academic freedom that the faculty charges officer should have dropped the matter. Instead, a committee was formed to determine whether the charges merited consideration by the standing committee that considers such allegations and can recommend sanctions against a professor. It was that non-standing committee that determined that there was no need to bring charges for a full investigation. Under the university's rules, no official statement is released about why charges were not brought. But earlier memos suggested that the two rules Robinson was accused of violating were measures that bar faculty members from "significant intrusion of material unrelated to the course" and "use of the position or powers of a faculty member to coerce the judgment or conscience of a student or to cause harm to a student for arbitrary or personal reasons." (Many of the documents related to the student complaints and various university communications about the situation may be found on the Web site of the Committee to Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB.)

The position of Robinson and his supporters has been that Israel's conduct in Gaza was in every way appropriate as a topic for discussion in a class on global issues, and that the complaints filed against him were a simple case of students (and some pro-Israel groups) disagreeing with Robinson's analysis. Robinson could not be reached Wednesday, but last month he told Inside Higher Ed that the charges against him were "absolutely absurd." He noted that he is Jewish and said that he abhors anti-Semitism, and that his academic freedom is being violated by the university taking seriously charges that link his e-mail criticisms of Israel's government with anti-Semitism. "This is all because I have criticized the policies of the State of Israel."

<b>Stand With Us, a pro-Israel group that has been organizing petition drives to back the idea of a full investigation of Robinson, issued a statement Wednesday night questioning the university's decision. "We are surprised and disappointed that UCSB chose not to uphold their standards for professional conduct, and that it has blurred the lines between responsible education and the peddling of propaganda. It is unfortunate that students will continue to be victims of partisan indoctrination and misinformation," said the statement, from Roz Rothstein, international director of the organization.

The Stand With Us Web site features analysis on why the group does not feel Robinson's e-mail should be protected by academic freedom. "We applaud the UCSB administration’s decision to investigate whether Robinson abused the Faculty Code of Conduct guidelines. This investigation is critical for stemming the politicization of academia and the rising academic support for anti-Israel propaganda," says the Web site (in a posting that does not reflect Wednesday's news that the investigation is over). "The administration will be under intense political pressure from those who oppose the investigation. Let the administration know that there is also strong public support for their decision."</b>

Perhaps, some direct action during this panel would be appropriate.
by PrionPartyy
Thursday Jun 17th, 2010 9:56 AM
So, Stand With Us gets upset when Robinson compares Zionists with NAZIs. And then Stand With US pushes the idea that the Zionist's bloadsoaked theft of Palestinian lands isn't so much of an offense because the Zionist crusader state doesn't persecute gays.

As if ZIonists have some alleged birthright of murderous theft of Palestinian lands because Zionists are such better people, aka superior beings, aka ubbermenschen. AND that because Fatah and Hamas persecute gays that Palestinians are some sort of sub human untermenschen, and that the Palestinian's basic human right not to be destroyed by Zionist crusaders is somehow voided.

How could Robinson not conpare Zionist crusaders with NAZIs? They use the same propaganda to rationalize being murderous thieves of other people's homelands.
Thank you to the signatory organizations of this article for speaking out against "Stand with Us's" cynical mis-use of LGBTQ struggles to rationalize their defense of Israeli apartheid. Some of us are old enough to remember the similar mis-use of feminism and gay liberation (mostly by people who don't give a rat's ass about either women or LGBT people) to justify the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Now that the Afghan and Iraqi invasions have killed over 1-1/2 million people and U.S. proxy gov'ts there continue to brutally oppress women and gays, these "feminist" and "pro-gay" supporters of U.S. domination are strangely silent.

One oppression (homophobia in Palestine or elsewhere) does not justify another (national oppression of the Palestinians), especially as the intense national oppression of the Palestinians by Israel and the U.S. -- with its accompanying impoverishment, violence and petty indignities -- serves only to reinforce that homophobia. Sorry, but when 80% of Gazans live on less than $2 a day, it leaves few political openings for movements towards sexual liberation, etc., in contrast to the privileged lifestyles of Jewish Israelis made possible by billions in U.S. subsidies, not to mention the theft of Palestinian water, land and other resources.

By being actively engaged in both the movements for LGBTQ liberation AND against Israeli apartheid, the signatory organizations of this article are doing a superb service to both movements. One need look no farther than the active involvement of LGBTQ activists in the movement against South African apartheid to see how they helped broaden that movement, and thus prepared the ground for making post-apartheid South Africa one of the few nations in the world that guarantees LGBTQ legal equality in its constitution.

by Scott
Monday Jun 21st, 2010 10:21 PM
Are you people kidding me? You DO know that in the Arab world homosexuality is punishable by death and this punishment is still administered to this day! Israel is the only country in the entire middle east where gay people can live a semi-normal, honest life. What do you think would happen to you if you came out in Palestine? Iraq? Saudi Arabia? etc.

Any LGBT person supporting an Arab state is a fool.
by Owen
Tuesday Jun 22nd, 2010 2:26 PM
I don't know much about Stand With Us, but I get the impression they're a civil society group, not an arm of the Israeli government. Blacklisting all Israeli organizations and individuals--and equating them with the actions of their state--is unfair and unproductive. Should American queer rights activists be banned from attending conferences around the world just because the U.S. government is committing atrocities?

I think it would be great for the people who wrote this statement to go to that workshop, *listen* to what Stand With Us has to say, and then challenge them to address the issues raised in this statement (if the Stand With Us folks don't bring it up themselves in the first place). No one should have anything to fear from that dialogue.
by maybe
Tuesday Jun 22nd, 2010 5:02 PM
especially if they are running around promoting how great the US is on human rights and attacking those that the US oppresses such as afghanistan or iraq

stand with us is not simply a "queer rights" group. they are apologists for the israeli government and specifically try to use gay issues as a wedge between the palestinian people and those who support their right to self-determine as a nation