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Anti-semitism in pink: the uniquely selective assumptions of the “pinkwashing” campaign

This is a cross post by Adloyada

Let’s hear it for Israel’s mainstream left-wing newspaper, Ha’aretz, which can teach The Guardian a thing or two when it comes to publishing articles delegitimizing and demonizing israel, zionism and its democratically elected politicians.

Yesterday, their home page headlined an-oped “Michael Oren pinkwashes the truth about Israel and gay Palestinians” by one Aeyal Gross which expands the delegitimizing“pinkwashing” theme that the evil Israelis only host support for Palestinian lesbians and gays as a deliberate and cynical subterfuge to cover up their crimes and evil ways:

And if Oren’s bit about Dana speaks to the appropriation that was, a different part of his speech constitutes a rewriting of the facts for the sake of waving gay rights as a fig leaf, perhaps the last for Israeli democracy, in order to obscure the injustices of the occupation. In both his speech as well as in an interview given later, Oren clamed that Israel was fighting for gay rights before the 1967 war. Perhaps Oren should be reminded that in 1967, and actually until 1988, homosexual intercourse was considered illegal under Israeli law. Despite the fact that the Attorney General issued instructions not to use that law when the subjects in question are men in a consensual relationship back in the 1950s, the shadow of discrimination has never really disappeared.

Israel did not fight for the rights of gays, not in the sixties nor in the seventies. Only at the end of the eighties and in the nineties, in the wake of vigorous activism on the part of members of the LGBT community and a small number of politicians who supported them, did any progress take place. This included the cancelation of the criminality of homosexual intercourse and the creation of a law and a ruling that would prevent discrimination. Now, said progress, part real and part imagined, is being appropriated for Israeli hasbara.

Here he explicitly states that the only reason for Israel to host  and be publicly proud of having two Israeli-Palestinian LGBT centres is to divert attention from Israeli oppression of Palestinians:

While the headquarters of two LGBT Palestinian organizations that operate in both Israel and in the West Bank are located in Israel, the state does not give them “shelter,” and their appropriation for Israel’s propaganda needs is outrageous – not only because of the ongoing oppression of Palestinians in Israel and in the territories, but also because the appropriation is done in order to divert the conversation from Palestinian oppression in an attempt to present Israel as a liberal democracy.

The protesters, among them Israelis, were right to blame Oren for what is known across the world as “pinkwashing.


The clip at the head of this post from a young Palestinian woman involved in the organizations Gross’ article slams as propaganda ruses makes clear that the issue of Palestinian gay identities and Israeli ones alike is a profoundly complex and individual as well as collective one for both Israeli and Palestinian gays. It belies the simplistic and partisan reductionist smearing Gross presents.

Israel is a state whose legal and official policy framework grants quite remarkable legal rights, freedoms and protection from harassment and discrimination to lesbians and gays, unknown in the rest of the Middle East and many other countries of the world. Culturally, Israel is far from having a monolithic attitude to lesbians and gays, ranging from active condemnation and hostile campaigning from some Haredi groups to overt courtship and celebration by far left secular parties such as Meretz and an extraordinarily lively lesbian and gay scene in Tel Aviv.

By contrast, in both the Palestinian Authority and in Hamas-controlled Gaza, not only is homosexuality viewed as an unacceptable individual and social evil, but there is no shortage of cases which show that families and communities, whether Muslim or Christian, are prepared to execute their own relatives and members found to be involved in homosexual activity, let alone taking up gay advocacy

As Fabian from Israel pointed out in a recent comment on a previous post, the underlying political theme is that a Jewish state founded on zionism, like the traditionally anti-semitic stereotype of the Jew, is inherently evil, murderous, bent on domination and dispossession and deceptive with it. If it does good for a persecuted section of its enemies, that’s solely to sugarcoat and gloss over its evil actions.

And his view, with which I agree, is– that’s anti-semitism. Because I can’t think of any other contemporary state to which such inherent and ineradicable motives of radical bad faith are attributed and made the subject of a worldwide campaign for which no objective evidence is ever adduced.

For example, have you ever seen an article suggesting that the UK or the US gave refuge to persecuted gays from Iran solely in order to cover up their supposed crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and which in the course of doing so reminds you that homosexual acts were punishable under UK law with imprisonment till 1957?

Have you ever seen a blog post from the gay activists promoting the “pinkwashing” campaign against Israel, or any other gay activists, accusing David Cameron of making speeches sympathetic to gay marriage and highlighting the UK’s positive attitudes to gay rights solely to gloss over and divert attention from the UK’s persecution of its Muslim community and its participation in supporting the campaign to destroy Muslim freedom struggles and resistance movements worldwide?

I haven’t.

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