Lady Gaga, Pinkwashing Israel’s Warcrimes against Palestinians Hurts Queers

Dear Lady Gaga,
We are queers who are citizens of Israel, who support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). We were unsettled by the news of your plans to perform in Israel again, despite pleads that were already made to you, in 2009, not to do so.

You may be asking yourself what all this means and what it has to do with you. Indeed, you may feel you are being thrust into a situation which you had no interest in entering in the first place. However, we hope that we can show you the situation through our eyes, outline the realities of the grim world you have entered, so you may overcome feelings of disconnect to the people of the region, who have long been invisible in the eyes of the world.  We wish to give you the opportunity to choose to make a difference.

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Victory: IGLYO moves out of Israel!

Source: http://www.pqbds.com/archives/205

July 29th 2011

Palestinian queer groups welcome the decision by the board of IGLYO to withdraw their annual General Assembly conference from Tel Aviv, Israel. Since June 1st, a campaign to get ‘IGLYOOutofIsrael’ was launched by PalestinianQueerGroups to protest the organization’s decision to hold its General Assembly in Tel Aviv, and accept funding from the Israeli government, followed by a calltoboycott the conference after IGLYO declined to change its location. We take this opportunity to salute IGLYO Member and Associate Organizations who took a principled and moral stance in support of our rights and headed our calls, includingNUS-LGBTQ,Kaos-GLandPembeHayatfromTurkey;BelonGTo, the Ireland LGBT youth organization; and Helem – Lebanese Protection for LQBTIQ, and IGLCN – The International Gay and Lesbian Cultural Network. This can only be seen as a continuation of the beautiful spirit of global solidarity, dominant during the South African anti-apartheid struggle and ongoing in solidarity with the rights of the Palestinian people, and oppressed people everywhere. We also call on other member organizations, and IGLYO to fully respect the Palestinian civil society call for BDS until Israel ends its oppression of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian Queer groups have launched this campaign in protest of the location’s conference, and acceptance of funding from the Israeli government, which directly implicates IGLYO in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid, and Israeli efforts to ‘re-brand’ Israel. Israeli policies and occupation do not distinguish between queer and straight. All Palestinians—queer and straight— must deal with the effects of Israel’s apartheid system, illegal wall and colonial settlements, and military occupation. Furthermore, Palestinians in Gaza live under medieval and illegal siege, and the largest open-air prison in the world. Like all Palestinian citizens of Israel, queers are subject to institutionalized discrimination in all walks of life, and Palestinian refugees are denied their basic, UN-sanctioned right of return.

In light of this effective and commendable solidarity with our call for boycott of IGLYO’s GA in Israel, this decision by the IGLYO board can only be seen as a direct result of effective pressure from the IGLYO Out of Israel campaign and the strong moral stand taken by several IGLYO member and associate organizations, and other international groups. We urge other believe that Member Organizations and the IGLYO Board of Directors to heed our call, and respect our picket line by boycotting all complicit Israeli institutions, and any events that are in violation of the BDS call.

We, however, were disappointed by the vague reasoning and language used in IGLYO’s statement announcing the cancellation, and the complete ignorance of the calls and reasoning provided by Palestinian queer groups in opposition of the conference’s location. IGLYO cited ‘recent legal changes in Israel’ as a reason for their decision, they did not specify the nature of these changes, or why they are problematic, and thus did not address the underlying issues at the heart of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and thus Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. This kind of wishy-washy reasoning allows IGLYO to back down from an unpopular decision, under pressure, while avoiding taking a stance on Israeli violations. A number of repressive laws have recently been passed in the Israeli parliament, including the anti-BDS law, and the Nakba law, and are part of an ongoing pattern of repressive laws that aim to further narrow the already dismal margin of freedoms available to those protesting Israel’s occupation, colonialism and system of racial discrimination and to effectively criminalize Palestinian non-violent resistance and solidarity with it. These laws, however, are but a part of a 63-year old policy of systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people. It isn’t just recent laws that should raise ‘concerns,’ but all the patently racist laws that have been passed by the Israeli Knesset throughout the last 63 years aiming to maintain a system of domination of one racial group over another.

Furthermore, IGLYO’s encouragement of its Member Organizations to participate in the Israeli Gay Youth International LGBTQ Youth Leadership Summit to be held in Tel Aviv in December, is indicative of the organization’s blatant hypocrisy. By continuing to support IGY and encouraging its MOs to attend this summit, IGLYO is ignoring the demands of Palestinian queer groups, our rights to an end of occupation, colonization and apartheid, and is de-facto crossing our picket line. The fact that IGLYO has moved its General Assembly from Israel is not enough while they are still encouraging their member organizations to violate the BDS guidelines and attend events in Tel Aviv.

We see IGLYO’s cancellation, under pressure, of its ill-conceived decision to hold its GA in Israel as a major victory for the BDS movement at large. This is particularly significant because this is the first time that such a wide debate around the boycott of Israeli apartheid has been initiated within queer communities. It is a victory in itself that the IGLYO Out of Israel campaign has encouraged international LGBTQ organizations to view gay rights in the proper, wider context of human rights, and facilitated internal discussions about these issues, with a focus on Palestinian rights.

Once again, we salute our partners for their principled, hard work, and reiterate ourcalltoqueers, academics, artistsandactivists, to take a stance and join the BDS movement against oppression in its many forms, and the Israeli policies of occupation, colonization, and apartheid impacting all Palestinians, queer or otherwise.

For more info please contact:

al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society: info@alqaws.org
Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: info@pqbds.com

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Israeli Queers Urge IGLYO Out of Israel in Support of Palestinian Queer Campaign

Dear Member Organizations and Board of IGLYO,

As Israeli bisexuals, transgenders, queers, lesbians, gays and activists, we completely and wholeheartedly support the Palestinian queers “IGLYO Out of Israel” campaign. We urge any organization or group questioning whether or not to participate in a public event that takes place in Israel, to respect the Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and to refrain from participating. Specifically in this matter, we urge IGLYO member organizations to vote “NO” regarding the IGLYO board’s decision to host the next general assembly in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

The logic for an institutional boycott of Israel is that Israel’s governments and the Israeli public will not be convinced to give away Jewish-only privileges out of kindness, but only if forced to, and if it has to be force – best it be a non-violent one, such as that of the BDS campaign. Moreover, we feel that what may be taking place through the IGLYO convention is “pinkwashing” – the use that Israeli propaganda makes of the Jewish LGBTQ community and Israel’s relative tolerance towards LGBTQs, as a way of diverting attention from the many Israeli war crimes performed in Gaza, the West Bank, inside Israel’s borders (including towards Palestinian LGBTQs) and outside them. Thus, on the backs of the LGBTQ community, Israeli propaganda can market a false image of Israel as a “liberal” “progressive” “gay haven,” while demonizing Arabic Middle Eastern cultures and presenting them as homophobic. This is an Islamophobic notion whose goal is to further justify Israeli war crimes in Gaza, in the West Bank, against Palestinian citizens of Israel and against diaspora refugees.

The cost of pinkwashing takes its toll not only from Palestinians, but also to some extent from Jewish LGBTQ people, as incidents of violence, discrimination, harassment and mistreatment are discretely silenced so as to prevent injury of Israel’s “progressive” image. It is also worth noting that IGY is headed by Yaniv Waizman, a municipality functionary and the mayor’s advisor on gay issues. Through his work for the municipality and partly also through IGY, Waizman leads Tel Aviv’s “Gay Tourism Project”, a project whose goal is to yet again pinkwash Israeli war crimes, while attracting rich gay male tourists to spend their money in Tel Aviv.

Pinkwashings, such as that which may take place through IGLYO’s convening in Israel, attempt to disconnect Tel Aviv from the siege on Gaza and the West Bank apartheid wall, falsely depicting Tel Aviv as a peaceful haven. But right next to Tel-Aviv and under its municipal rule, Jaffa (or Yaffa in Arabic), which was ethnically cleansed in 1948 among other villages which Tel-Aviv is built on, and its remaining indigenous Palestinian population was for years after under a military rule – is now in the midst of waves of gentrification. This process is enabled by Israeli apartheid laws, which prohibit Palestinian refugees (even if they are citizens of Israel) to reclaim their 1948 state-annexed homes and properties, thus making room for building new Jewish-only, rich-only homes and towers.

Israel’s economy and culture, including its LGBTQ organizations, are all complicit and embedded within a regime of racism, militarism and apartheid. To organize such a convention in Israel would entail being complicit in sustaining this regime and pinkwashing it. We hope that any LGBTQ organization confronted with this option, would choose to respect the Palestinian call for BDS, which is reiterated and strengthened by Palestinian LGBTQs, and to indeed bring IGLYO out of Israel.

Sincerely,

Israeli Queers for Palestine

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Tel-Aviv queers: City’s nomination in MTV’s gay tourist attraction contests – “a shameful tribute to apartheid”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 10, 2010. Tel-Aviv, Israel

MTV’s LGBT Network, Logo, has just published the results of two Internet award-bearing polls it conducted, nominating, among other cities, the Israeli city Tel-Aviv for gay ‘sexiest city’ and ‘year breakthrough’. The mere nomination was denounced by a Tel-Aviv-based queer group, Israeli Queers for Palestine, arguing MTV’s choice of Tel-Aviv sends a normalizing message to the Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians, particularly in light of a Palestinian queer and general calls for a boycott of Israel. The full statement reads:

Just a few months after Palestinian Queers for BDS have issued their June 28 Call upon all queer groups, organizations and individuals around the world to boycott the apartheid State of Israel, Logo, MTV’s LGBT Network, nominated Tel-Aviv, among other cities, within a gay ‘sexiest city’ and ‘year breakthrough’ award-bearing tourism promotion contests. We, Tel-Aviv-based queers, denounce the mere nomination of Tel-Aviv within this context of gay tourism promotion. These polls were conducted by Logo while a global human rights based movement for boycotting Israel is gaining strength in a pace that surpasses that of similar efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime of South Africa. Granting a shameful tribute to apartheid, Logo encourages LGBT communities to ignore such important efforts, and in particular the specific call made by Palestinian queers to boycott Israel.

We support Palestinian Queers for BDS’ Call, which follows the July 9th 2005 Palestinian united civil society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. We view BDS as a powerful, legitimate and much needed tool to end the impunity in which Israel continues to colonize and oppress the Palestinian people. This includes the continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, including the illegal siege on Gaza and West Bank apartheid wall; the systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel; and the prevention of the right of return and compensation for Palestinian refugees, who were expelled by Israel since 1948. We encourage queer groups, organizations and individuals to heed the Palestinian Queers for BDS’ Call and boycott the apartheid state of Israel.

Signed,

Israeli Queers for Palestine

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US Social Forum: Victory for Palestine, Victory for Justice

source: http://ussf.palestineconference.org/us-social-forum-victory-for-palestine-victory-for-justice/

June 23, 2010

Dear Sisters and brothers:

In a historic accomplishment, the leadership of the US Social Forum voted this morning to cancel a workshop proposed by “Stand With US”, a Zionist organization <http://www.standwithus.com/> that sought to represent Israel as a safe haven for LGBTQI communities and undermine the broadening support for the cause of justice in/for Palestine. As the National Planning Committee (NPC) put it in its announcement, “the workshop ‘LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East’ (Thursday, June 24 10:00am to 12:00pm) has been canceled for violating the submission procedure and transparency requirements for all workshops, and for being in violation of the anti-racist principles central to the U.S. Social Forum”.

We, Palestinian, Arab and Muslim activists, gathered at the US Social Forum, came together in a solid coalition with our allies from other marginalized communities of color, poor people’s movements, and anti-Zionist activists, to respond to the urgent call issued by our sisters and brother in Palestine and Lebanon http://queersagainstapartheid.org/2010/06/17/arab-queers-say-no-to-pinkwashing/ to cancel the Zionist workshop. The call was supported by Arab queer groups, such as SWANABAQ http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/SWANABAQ and by Palestinian and Arab community groups, such as the USPCN (US Palestinian Community Network) http://palestineconference.org/wp/, a group member of the National Planning Committee (NPC) of the US Social Forum.

As our sisters and brothers (Helem www.helem.net ASWAT www.aswatgroup.org, Al-Qaws www.alqaws.org, and Palestinian Queers for BDS www.pqbds.wordpress.com) made it clear in their statement that racist, Zionist, colonialist and Islamophobic politics and actions are as abhorrent as the politics and practices of homophobia and therefore have no place within movements for justice. We agree with this position and stand steadfastly and with unwavering commitment with this just struggle. Likewise, we stand steadfastly and with unwavering commitment to struggles against US and Israeli policies of war against poor and marginalized communities here in the US and that seek to undermine our unity and solidarity.

This is a victory for our struggle and indeed the struggle for justice for all. This victory makes it clear that the struggle for justice in/for Palestine is an integral part of the worldwide movement for freedom, dignity, justice and peace.
We call on all of you to participate in the US Social Forum process www.ussf2010.org by:

* Attending workshops and sessions in Detroit for the next 4 days
* Writing to thank the National Planning Committee (NPC) of USSF
* Working with the broad and diverse forces of justice and peace in your area.

Congratulations to all of us! Together, united for justice, another world is possible!

Al-Awda, NY; Arab American Action Network (AAAN); Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC); Arab American Union Members Council; Arab Youth Organization (AYO); Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid; Desis Rising and Moving (DRUM); Palestine Youth Network (PYN); US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN); Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA); South West Asia North Africa Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ); General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS); Committee for Justice in Palestine (SJP)-UC Berkeley; Youngstown Arab Community Center.

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Statement against Pinkwashing

We, Israeli queer activists, are deeply disturbed that the US Social Forum
is allowing the issue of LGBTQI rights in the Middle East to be used by the
anti-arab propaganda organization Stand with Us, under the dishonest guise
of educating and promoting liberation. The workshop to be held by Stand with
Us at the US Social Forum, entitled “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East”
is a particularly sinister attempt to use the issue of LGBTQI rights to veil
the horrors of the Israeli occupation, and has no place in the US Social
Forum.

We support the statement issued by the queer arab organizations, bravely standing up for their own rights, including their right to speak for themselves and not have their voices hijacked by Stand with Us, an organization that condones oppression of Palestinians, queer and straight alike. Queer Palestinians know: Israel does not give rights to queer
Palestinians, Israel denies the rights of all Palestinans.

As Jewish Israeli queers, we also refuse to be co-opted by Stand with Us. Transphobia and homophobia are real problems in Israel, as the violent attack on LGBT youth
last year proved. Stand with Us has no interest in addressing these pressing
issues, and does not actually support ongoing struggles for queer rights
within Israel. Instead they flaunt the rights that we do have, erasing the
need for continued struggle, for us, but more importantly, for other even
more oppressed groups. We will not allow Stand with Us to use our hard
earned rights to demonize the arab world and to justify denying the rights
of the Palestinians.

Being Jewish citizens of Israel affords us many rights denied to others, despite our queerness. We are acutely aware of our excess privilege within the apartheid state of Israel. For us this is no cause for pride and celebration, but rather it forces us to be accountable and take action. That means we can, and must, fight for rights and justice for all.
Please don’t let Stand with Us lead a workshop that will detract from this
important struggle for justice.

Signed,

Israeli Queers For Palestine

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Israeli Queers for Palestine supports QuAIA following censorship attempts from the City of Toronto

We are Israeli queers trying to bring about an end to Israel’s apartheid and occupation of the Palestinians in any legitimate non-violent way open to us, including supporting the Palestinian-led BDS campaign. We are appalled by attempts made at the City of Toronto to use censorship measures against the pride parade’s participation of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA). We wish to pledge our support to QuAIA in this time of unjust political persecution for their courageous standing for Palestinian rights and against any form of oppression.

It has become custom among pro-Israelis to falsely accuse BDS promoters of practicing censorship, while actually all BDS promoters do is ask artists and intellectuals to act on their own conscience and political motivation. On the other hand, BDS promoters and other human rights solidarity groups and activists are the ones who face real threats and acts of censorship, directed against them, involving authority and budgeting mechanisms. Perhaps people at the City of Toronto are taking their lead from the Israeli Knesset, who recently has passed another one of its apartheid laws against Palestinian citizens of Israel, known as the Nakba law. The Nakba law prohibits government budgets or sponsorship for organizations who commemorate the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by Israel.

In this atmosphere of silencing and denial, in Israel and across the Western world, it is of vital importance to remind people the atrocities that are performed by Israel and encourage them to get involved, as done by QuAIA. Israel still rejects the Palestinian refugees’ right of return as stipulated by UN resolution 194. It violates numerous international laws and court of justice decisions in its settlements and apartheid wall enterprises, confiscating Palestinian lands and resources and segregating populations. Israel applies a cruel siege on Gaza which puts the population on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. It executes Palestinians without trial, imprisons thousands, destroys homes and terrorizes communities.

It is due to these crimes and atrocities that QuAIA is desperately needed in Toronto’s pride parade, doing their indispensable solidarity work against all forms of censorship and oppression. QuAIA’s work is in line with queer struggles going on also within Israel. These struggles join the struggle of the Palestinians, a struggle that should be shared by all queers to end oppression and injustice.

In solidarity,

Israeli Queers for Palestine

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