PINKWASHING THE OCCUPATION

Scene from the 2016 Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade. 

 

On June 8, when some 250,000 people attended the pride march in Tel Aviv, just some 44 miles away Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip faced Israeli snipers. For LGBTQ Palestinians, Tel Aviv’s pride week is a source of pain and anger each year. Pride is “used as a tool to normalize and justify occupation,” 20-year-old Omar told Mondoweiss. “Israelis oppress Palestinians, Palestinian women, Palestinian children, LGBT Palestinians. Anyone who is not Israeli Jewish, they oppress.”

LGBTQ Palestinians: Israel uses Pride celebrations to ‘normalize and justify occupation’

When Ali*, a member of the LGBTQ community in occupied East Jerusalem, saw images from Tel Aviv’s pride week inundating his social media earlier this month, he felt angered.

“I feel used when I see all of these people flooding the streets of Tel Aviv. It’s irritating seeing all of these fellow queers who share some of my experiences being used by Israel to pinkwash settler colonialism,” the 22-year-old said.

The term “pinkwashing” is used by activists to describe Israel’s practice of promoting itself as a “gay haven” in the Middle East in order to distract attention from its human rights abuses, which have defined its 70-year-long colonization of historic Palestine and more than half-century occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

On June 8, when some 250,000 people attended the pride march in Tel Aviv, just some 44 miles away Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip faced Israeli snipers.

Depending on which news channel you decided to turn on, you could be faced with images of colorful outfits and rainbow flags overflowing the streets of Tel Aviv, or injured Palestinians being rushed to an ambulance after being shot by the Israeli army.

During the pride march in Tel Aviv, Israel simultaneously shot dead at least four unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, including a 15-year-old. The small Palestinian territory has been held under a devastating Israeli air, land, and sea blockade for more than a decade.

Since the Great March of Return began in Gaza on March 30 to demand the right of Palestinians to return to their lands and homes they were expelled from during the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, Israeli snipers have killed at least 131 protesters and have injured tens of thousands.

For LGBTQ Palestinians, Tel Aviv’s pride week is a source of pain and anger each year.

Pride is “used as a tool to normalize and justify occupation,” 20-year-old Omar told Mondoweiss. “Israelis oppress Palestinians, Palestinian women, Palestinian children, LGBT Palestinians. Anyone who is not Israeli Jewish, they oppress.”

“You cannot be accepting to one minority while oppressing so many other minorities, including a minority you allegedly say you advocate for and support,” said Omar, who is also a resident of East Jerusalem.

‘I see daily violence’

LGBTQ Palestinians have long pointed out that their experiences under Israeli occupation do not differ from other Palestinians, despite Israel attempting to paint its image as a haven for LGBTQ peoples.

“To Israel, you are just Palestinian. It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man, straight or queer. You’re Palestinian so you will be subjected to all forms of oppression and discrimination and violence that Israel subjects all Palestinians to,” Omar said.

Israel occupied and subsequently annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, a move which was not recognized by the international community until US President Donald Trump’s official recognition of the city as Israel’s capital last year.

Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem do not hold citizenship in Israel or the Palestinian territory and instead were issued temporary Jerusalem residency IDs, which can be revoked by the Israeli state for a variety of reasons.

Israel has expelled nearly 15,000 Palestinians from the city since 1967, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW), while hundreds have been evicted from their homes owing to the Israeli settler movement.

While Palestinians in East Jerusalem are subject to Israeli civil law — as opposed to Israeli military law like Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza — they face routine discrimination and violence by Israeli forces.

In East Jerusalem, Palestinians are constantly subjected to harassment and arrest. As of April, 432 Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem were being held in Israeli prison, according to Palestinian prisoners’ right group Addameer.

“I see daily violence here,” Ali said. “When you walk on the streets, everywhere I go I see an [Israeli] settler with a rifle over the shoulder, or I see soldiers and policemen.”

‘If they see you have darker skin or if they see that you are wearing something with Arabic writing on it — or even if you have an Arabic tattoo. If they see any signs that you are Palestinian, they will stop you, search you and interrogate you.”

According to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the youth are the main target of harassment and arrest by Israeli forces, particularly since the 2015 uprising in which many young Palestinians carried out lone-wolf attacks on Israelis, resulting in hundreds of Palestinians being killed as Israel was accused of practicing a “shoot-to-kill” policy.

“Everything is militarized in East Jerusalem,” Ali told Mondoweiss. “It’s violent and they wonder why the youth are sad and they have all this anger within them.”

Palestinians have to constantly fear for their safety, as one wrong move could result in prison or even death.

“If we plan for a picnic, we cannot even bring a knife to cut the vegetables and fruit,” Ali explained. “If the soldiers stop you, no matter how much time you would spend explaining to them that the knife is being used to cut vegetables, they will not believe you.”

“You will always be viewed as a potential terrorist.”

But Tel Aviv’s pride is part of Israel’s entertainment industry, meant to distract people from its routine violation of Palestinian rights, Ali said. “When they are dancing at pride, they are not seeing the everyday violence we [Palestinians] are subjected to.”

“All of these things are used to create this idea that Israel is introducing the world to Israeli culture,” Ali told Mondoweiss. “It’s mainstreaming Israeli entertainment in order to attract people to the state.”

In 2005, Israel launched “Brand Israel” — a marketing strategy meant to “rebrand the country’s image to appear relevant and modern.” Much of this strategy has been focused on promoting cultural events and entertainment in order to recreate Israel as a destination having “a productive, vibrant and cutting-edge culture,” according to American writer Sarah Schulman.

An intricate part of this rebranding was promoting Israel as a “world gay destination” and improving “Israel’s image through the gay community in Israel.”

‘I felt totally invalidated’

Omar was shocked to see many of his favorite drag entertainers from the United States performing at Tel Aviv’s pride and tweeting their support for the event.

“I felt totally invalidated,” he said “You’re celebrating queerness and being different among people who are either war criminals or complicit in war crimes through their silence.”

“How can you stand against [LGBTQ] oppression, and yet still go and subject other people to it? They are complicit in homophobia. They are complicit in hatred. They are complicit in the slaughter of their LGBTQ brothers and sisters and what have you in between,” Omar explained.

According to Omar, this dissonance is aimed at confusing the identities of LGBTQ Palestinians.

“I am privileged enough to be educated and aware. But Israeli pride is designed to make Palestinian queers question their identity. They are told, by Israel, that they have to choose between being gay and being Palestinian,” Omar said.

In actuality, however, LGBTQ individuals have existed in the Middle East since the birth of the Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian identities, Omar said.

“If you dig through fables or poetry from thousands of years ago, homosexuality is present. It’s there,” he told Mondoweiss.

“Historically we have always been rich in representation. I don’t know about acceptance, but that doesn’t mean that people were not living their homosexual/queer lives.”

According to Ali, if Israel does care about a Palestinian’s sexuality, it is only to use that information against the individual.

This at times plays out in the form of Israel attempting to coerce Palestinians into being collaborators and informants by threatening to shame LGBTQ Palestinians within their communities.

“Sometimes if you go to a protest, they [Israel] will try and shame you. If the army has access to information where they know you are queer, then they will threaten to tell everyone about your sexual identity,” he said.

“They don’t care about anyone’s identity, unless it can be used in their favor,” he added.

Israel’s practice of blackmailing Palestinians on the basis of their sexuality is just one of a myriad of techniques Israel uses to coerce Palestinians into providing information to Israeli authorities, according to al-Qaws, a Palestinian LGBTQ grassroots organization.

The Israeli army often extorts Palestinians “on the basis of their lack of access to healthcare, disrupted freedom of movement, exposure of marital infidelities, finances, drug use, or anything else,” the group has noted.

‘Freedom means no fear’

Omar tells Mondoweiss that Israel’s use of pinkwashing emboldens attempts to silence Palestinians who criticize Israel’s colonization of historic Palestine.

“Whenever we mention Palestinians undergoing ethnic cleansing or violence under the occupation, Israelis, Zionists, or white Americans mention homophobia in Palestine to counter it.”

But “there’s just as much homophobia in the Jewish community as there is in Palestine, or Lebanon, or Jordan — and even in the United States,” Omar said.

“Toxic masculinity is not unique to Palestine or the Palestinian society. It’s almost a universal queer experience, especially in conservative areas.”

For Omar, navigating the traditional society of East Jerusalem and the older Palestinian generations, while also being forced to maneuver through the violence of Israel’s occupation is particularly difficult.

“It’s really hard for you to feel safe if you’re a feminine man because on one hand your identity is misunderstood or misrepresented in your own community. And, on the other hand, you’re oppressed, you’re targeted by Israel. They want you killed in Israeli society.”

“It’s a struggle,” Omar continued. “But do I feel safer in Israeli places? No. Not as a Palestinian and not as a queer person.”

For Omar and Ali, pride events are far from their ideas of freedom.

“Freedom to me means no fear,” Omar said. “It’s being able to live and act the way I would normally act without fearing for my life.”

“For Palestinians, we don’t know when it is safe for us to be ourselves. Under Israel’s occupation, how can we exist without possibly dying at any moment?”

In a similar vein, Ali says he can “be free without pride.”

“Pride started as a protest. Now it’s more of a capitalist venture. It lost its essence,” he said. “I don’t feel like this is what I want or that this is what symbolizes freedom.”

The most important issue for Ali is feeling accepted inside his own community. “I don’t want to put myself off from my own society. I want to be part of my society,” he said.

“I want to be safe from Israel or any other authority in historic Palestine that is oppressing me for being who I am. This is freedom — being safe and empowered and being a part of this society and staying where I am without dealing with harassment and threats.”

As Omar watched the parties and dancing unfold in Tel Aviv, while facing the daily violence of occupation in his home of East Jerusalem and witnessing the continued Israeli massacre in Gaza, one question continued to come to his mind.

“I want to ask these people: What are you so proud of? Is it the bloodshed, the injustice, the ethnic cleansing? What are you so proud of?”

*The names of the interviewees have been changed to protect their identities.

BOYCOTTING AND PINKWASHING GAY PRIDE IN JERUSALEM

flag-584144

The Mayor of Jerusalem will boycott the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem today …..

The following report is in his own defense of the decision (Click on link)

Jerusalem mayor defends decision to skip Pride Parade

Nir Barkat says he needs to take into consideration all of the capital’s residents to avoid causing offense

On the other hand, the arrogant Prime Minister couldn’t care less who he offends ….. so he did!

Words of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem; “It is simply horrendous that the Prime Minister supports these parades. It’s a huge embarrassment; he should come back and apologize in public. He cannot be the Prime Minister of Israel.”

(Click on link to see full report)

Rabbi Amar: PM’s support of gay pride parade is an embarassment

Jerusalem Chief Rabbi condemns gay pride parade, calls on Netanyahu to give ‘public apology’ after voice support for parade.

Pride14banner

Apologise he won’t …. this would defeat his entire purpose of Pinkwashing the entire event as can be seen in the following ….

Pinkwashing is Israel’s propaganda strategy of trying to market itself as LGBTQ friendly, while at the same time taking attention away from the occupation.

The message from the spoof is clear: “you can’t wash away the occupation.”

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY ~~ PINKWASHING PRIDE IN NEW YORK

Racist NYPD pinkwashes with pro-LGBT SUV for gay pride parade, while it profiles people of color & harasses the poor

The NYPD is supporting gay pride with a new rainbow colored patrol vehicle.

The NYPD is supporting gay pride with a new rainbow colored patrol vehicle.

NYPD shows support for gay pride with new-look patrol SUV

The vehicle also has a heart sticker that reads “NYC Pride 2016” and the words “Pride Equality Peace” – both in rainbow colors. It carries the letters FSD, which stands for Fleet Services Division, on its side.

The NYPD has been working on its relationship with members of the city’s gay community since the June 12 attack that killed 49. Bratton was booed at a rally at the Stonewall Inn after the attack.

The NYPD sent top officials to an event held at police headquarters by the Gay Officers Action League – a group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cops.

ON VIDEO ~~ ISLAMOPHOBIC PINKWASHING OF ORLANDO MASACRE

Bibi Netanyahu Statement on the Orlando Terror Attack

“In Orlando, a terrorist walks into a nightclub and murders nearly 50 human beings. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters cut down in cold blood.

They did nothing wrong. They were dancing with friends, they were enjoying music with loved ones.

Why did the terrorist murder them?
Because he was driven by a fanatical hatred.

He targeted the LGBT community because he believed they were evil.

Now, the murderer wasn’t alone.

Regimes and terrorist organizations around the world ruthlessly persecute the LGBT community.

In Syria, ISIS throws gays off rooftops.
In Iran, the regime hangs gays from cranes.

Too many people have remained silent in the face of this awful persecution.

This week’s shooting wasn’t merely an attack on the LGBT community. It was an attack on all of us, on our common values of freedom and diversity and choice.

Radical Islamist terror makes no distinction between shades of infidel.

This week it was gays in Orlando. A few days before that it was Jews in Tel Aviv. Before that it was music fans in Paris; Travelers in Brussels; Yazidis in Iraq; Community workers in San Bernardino; Christians and journalists in Syria.

All of us are targets.

We believe that all people are created in the image of God.

ISIS, by contrast, believes that all people who aren’t just like them deserve to die.

We will not be terrified into submission.
We will fight back. And we will triumph.

Today I ask you to reach out to friends in the LGBT community. Comfort them.
Tell them you stand together, we stand together as one. And that you will always remember the victims.

Tell them they will never be alone, that we are all one family deserving of dignity, deserving of life.

I have no doubt that those who seek to spread hate and fear will be defeated.

Working together we will defeat them even faster.

We need to stand united, resolute in the belief that all people regardless of their sexual orientation, regardless of their race, regardless of their ethnicity, all people deserve respect, deserve dignity.”

-Bibi Netanyahu

PINKWASHING PALESTINE

Last week, in an article on the controversial rainbow flag mural a Palestinian artist painted on Israel’s apartheid wall, the Associated Press made this claim: “A 1951 Jordanian law banning homosexual acts remains in effect in the West Bank, as does a ban in Gaza passed by British authorities in 1936.”

In fact, there is no law in the West Bank, or in Jordan, that bans sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

Khaled Jarrar’s rainbow mural “Through the Spectrum” painted on the Israeli separation wall near Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. (Khaled Jarrar)

Khaled Jarrar’s rainbow mural “Through the Spectrum” painted on the Israeli separation wall near Qalandiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank. (Khaled Jarrar)

AP corrects story falsely claiming homosexuality is illegal for Palestinians

Last week, in an article on the controversial rainbow flag mural a Palestinian artist painted on Israel’s apartheid wall, the Associated Press made this claim: “A 1951 Jordanian law banning homosexual acts remains in effect in the West Bank, as does a ban in Gaza passed by British authorities in 1936.”

In fact, there is no law in the West Bank, or in Jordan, that bans sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

Yesterday, several days after I contacted AP to inform them of this, they issued the following correction:

In a story June 30 about Palestinian protesters whitewashing a gay pride rainbow flag, The Associated Press reported erroneously that homosexual acts are banned by law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. While homosexuality is largely taboo in Palestinian society, there are no laws specifically banning homosexual acts.

This may surprise people, since the notion that homosexual activity is criminal – and even punishable by death – is a staple of a form of anti-Palestinian propaganda called pinkwashing.

Pinkwashing is a rhetorical strategy that deploys Israel’s supposed enlightenment toward LGBTQ issues todeflect criticism from Israel’s human rights abuses and war crimes and to seek to build up support for Israel among Western liberals and progressives.

In a 2 July email, I pointed AP editors to the annual publication State-Sponsored Homophobia, from international LGBTQ advocacy group ILGA. Its 2014 edition states (emphasis added):

The British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance, No. 74 of 1936 is in force in Gaza.

Section 152(2) of the Code criminalizes sexual acts between men with a penalty of up to 10 years.

This Code was in force also in Jordan until 1951 and in Israel until 1977, before they adopted their own Penal Codes. Note that in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), however, the Jordanian Penal Code of 1951, largely modified in 1960, is in force, having no prohibition on sexual acts between persons of the same sex.

AP editors were initially skeptical and pushed back, insisting that various clauses in the Jordanian Penal Code that applies in the occupied West Bank indirectly outlawed homosexual activity.

I’m glad that after they delved deeper into the matter, they have done the right thing and made a correction.

Expert views

The AP’s mistake also led me to look deeper into the issue.

I asked two experts for some background on the law in Jordan as well as the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and the kinds of claims made about it.

Anis F. Kassim is one of the foremost experts on international, Jordanian and Palestinian law and long-time editor-in-chief of the Palestinian Yearbook of International Law. He was also an adviser to the Palestinian legal team in the successful 2004 case against Israel’s wall in the West Bank at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Kassim confirmed that the Jordanian Penal Code “is silent on acts committed by adults of the same sex with their own respective free will.” But I also wanted to know if any other clauses, not explicitly mentioning homosexual activity, had been used to target people who engage in such activity.

“Having checked the reported cases – as published – and with the old and young practitioners, I have not found any court case involving homosexuality,” Kassim told me.

As regards the 1936 law still in force in Gaza, Kassim said that it “could be interpreted as allowing homosexuality.” But he noted that such acts in Gaza would potentially be “punishable if the act was committed by force against the victim. By implication, if it is committed with free will of the victim it may not be a criminal act.”

“Chain of fabrications”

I also spoke with Joseph Massad, the foremost academic authority on Jordan who has written the classic book on the country Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan. Massad is also author of Desiring Arabs and Islam in Liberalism.

Massad says that the original, incorrect AP report “is part of the more generalized racist campaign by Western pro-Israel news organizations that want to insist on pinkwashing Israeli crimes with the added benefit of propagandizing against neighboring Arab countries.”

He observes that ILGA itself “used to be part of such propaganda efforts, claiming without evidence” in the 1993 edition of its annual Pink Book that Jordan criminalized homosexuality.

“It seems the Associated Press was simply repeating such propaganda and might very likely have relied directly on it, not having updated its sources,” Massad states.

Massad says that ILGA’s website later corrected the mistake, “by referring to a mostly ignorant Orientalist book written by a German and an Israeli collaborator – even if in this one case the authors got the story right – rather than by referring to the actual text of the law.”

The bigger point, he says, is that since “Western propaganda is based on a chain of propagandistic fabrications, you end up getting [organizations like] AP quoting ILGA quoting other German and Israeli sources. What is always absent is an actual Arab documentary source.”

Massad notes that, as in the AP story, “the law itself is never quoted nor is a history of its case application even explored, but rather what is presented is anti-Arab propaganda buttressed by any opinion that would help the AP Jerusalem bureau prove Israel’s superiority over the Arabs.”

The 1936 British Mandate criminal code for Palestine makes it illegal for men to have sex with women or men in a way that “contravenes natural laws.” That law remained in effect in Israel until 1977, in contrast with Jordanian law that did not criminalize such acts at all.

Yet, Massad observes, “we never read stories by AP and other Western news organizations between 1951 and 1977 about how retrograde and repressive Israel was toward homosexuals compared to its Arab neighbors, including the West Bank before and after Israel occupied it. This could very well be because the US and Western Europe also repressed their homosexuals during this period.”

“Who knows?” Massad observes dryly, “Maybe Israeli homosexuals fled to the West Bank between 1967 and 1977 to avoid prosecution in Israel.”

“But after Israel replaced the law in 1977, not only does AP not contrast it negatively with its Jordanian and Palestinian neighbors who had not criminalized such acts for decades before Israel,” he says, “but AP fabricates a story to make Israel look superior to both of them.”

No asylum

Even the corrected story still asserts that “Gay Palestinians tend to be secretive about their social lives and some have crossed into Israel to live safely.” This claim, often based on unverifiable anecdotes, is also a staple of Israeli pinkwashing.

But a 2008 Tel Aviv University study of the handful of known cases – “Nowhere to Run: Gay Palestinian Asylum-Seekers in Israel” – found that Israel subjects Palestinians to particularly atrocious treatment, expelling them precisely because they are Palestinian. There is no legal framework that allows any Palestinian to seek asylum in present-day Israel.

Israel’s foundational laws and policies are designed precisely to keep Palestinians out, as they are considered a “demographic threat.”

Massad says it is worth asking how the “error” was committed in the first place, “and how the news organization initially came to decide that there was an anti-homosexual law in Jordan and the West Bank where none existed.”

“Indeed, AP, the largest and perhaps the richest news organization in the world, has consultants and fact checkers that often check claims made by those who oppose US and Israeli policies,” he states, “but it seems little is made of their expertise when it comes to endorsing US and Israeli propaganda, and it had to be left to The Electronic Intifada to alert them.”

ABE FOXMAN ~~ FATHER OF THE GROOMS

OR ~~~ THE PINKWASHING OF THE FOXMAN CLAN

"Orthodox Boys" (1948), Bernard Perlin Photo by bernardperlin.com

“Orthodox Boys” (1948), Bernard Perlin Photo by bernardperlin.com

A hearty Mazal Tov (congratulations) is in order for Abe Foxman on the marriage of his son to his new son-in-law ….

One would think that a reactionary bastard like himself would be opposed to gay marriages, but how could he when Israel itself is now the world’s gay capital …. It would be downright anti-Semitic on his part.

In his toast at the wedding, Foxman “thanked the grooms for the opportunity to be sensitive, and thanked Cardet-Hernandez for converting to Judaism, reminding him that the Jewish people had lost so many people in the past,” the Times reported.

The nuptials as reported in HaAretz

Abe Foxman’s son marries partner in same-sex wedding

Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, thanked both grooms for ‘the opportunity to be sensitive.’

Abe Foxman

ADL national director Abe Foxman. Photo by AP

What does ADL national director Abe Foxman do when he’s not hunting anti-Semites and exposing racists?

Well, one thing he did earlier this month was give away his son Ariel, 40, editor of InStyle magazine, in a same-sex wedding with his Cuban-American partner Brandon Cardet-Hernandez.

“Their marriage brings together things that were less easy to understand even 10 years ago,” the elder Foxman was quoted as saying in the New York Times’ Vows column. “Now it’s just so normal, comfortable and loving.”

In his toast at the wedding, Foxman “thanked the grooms for the opportunity to be sensitive, and thanked Cardet-Hernandez for converting to Judaism, reminding him that the Jewish people had lost so many people in the past,” the Times reported.

Brandon Cardet-Hernandez, 29, the principal of the Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters, a public high school. He studied with a rabbi for several months in order to convert to Judaism.

The 260 guests at the high-chic wedding, which was held at the Brooklyn Museum, included many well-known faces from the world of fashion, as well as actors, musicians and journalists.

*

An interesting take on Israeli ‘Pinkwashing’ can be read HERE from the Forward