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.