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Indybay Feature
Thu Jun 18 2009 (Updated 06/19/09)
StandWithUs I-Pride Protested by Queer Activists for Exploiting Gay Issues
Queer Activists Disrupt StandWithUs I-Pride, Refuse to be a Propaganda Tool for Israel
On June 11th in Tel Aviv, a group of queer Israeli activists (backed by Palestinian-Israeli LGBTQI co-operative preparation) protested the cynical use of gay rights by a conservative American group called StandWithUs (SWU). The activists disrupted an event called I-Pride, organized by SWU, exploiting queer issues to advance and support Israel’s existence as an apartheid state and its occupation over Palestinians. The queer activists have also pointed out SWU collaboration with homophobic organizations such as Christians United For Israel, and homophobic individuals such as Gary Bauer and John Hagee who has stated that Hurricane Katrina happened for the city’s “sinful homosexual rally.” SWU’s presentations of all Palestinians as killers, Islam as the enemy of the west, and SWU pressure to fire and censure academics who are critical of Israel, were also denounced by the activists in the event.

At the event panelists and speakers preferred to focus on liberal issues inside Israel and showed total disregard for human rights violations by Israel. They presented the gay Palestinian community as suffering mostly from the Palestinian society ( not from Israel’s brutal occupation) and as being in need of a western salvation embodied in Israel’s apartheid regime.

Haneen Maikey, an organizer for Al-Qaws ("Rainbow") - for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, has commented that “the patronizing and arrogant attitude towards the Palestinan LGBT community, the use of our struggle and speaking in our name are not new phonomena. What is worrying is the easiness in which a right wing and racist pro-Israeli agenda is presented as a celebration pride and rights which is designed to present Israel (in collaboration with local gay Israeli organizations) as an oasis of liberalism and tolerance. This is a cynical use of gay issues for political gain, as human rights violations that are committed by Israel hurts all Palestinians-regardless of gender and sexual preference.”

Inna Michaeli, a member of Coalition of Women for Peace, and a feminist lesbian activist stated “I’m not surprised that our struggle for gender and sexual freedom is used as a propaganda tool at the hands of radical right wing groups from America. What is left to ask is where is the shame of gay organizations in Israel who claim to speak in our name, and whether from a total silence on human rights violations, they are moving now to a complete co-operation with the American radical right.” Read more

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