LEADING QUEER VOICES ISSUE STRONG STATEMENT ON "PINKWASHING"
On the return of their recent trip to Israel and the Occupied Palestinians Territories, a group of leading Queer voices have issued a strongly-worded statement and have lambasted the increasing use of "Pinkwashing" by the state of Israel.
The drafters of the statement define Pinkwashing as the "well-funded, cynical publicity campaign marketing a purportedly gay-friendly Israel to an international audience so as to distract attention from the devastating human rights abuses it commits…"
The group travelled to Israel and the Occupied Palestinians Territories on a "solidarity" visit between the 7th and 13th of January, 2012. The opening paragraph of their statement reads:
"We are a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and trans activists, academics, artists, and cultural workers who participated in a solidarity tour in the West Bank of Palestine and Israel …[w]hat we witnessed was devastating and created a sense of urgency around doing our part to end this occupation and share our experience across a broad cross-section of the LGBTIQ community.
"We saw with our own eyes the walls—literally and metaphorically—separating villages, families and land. From this, we gained a profound appreciation for how deeply embedded and far reaching this [Israeli] occupation is through every aspect of Palestinian daily life."
In the statement they list some of the things that they saw in the West Bank, this included:
"- the 760km [Israeli] separation wall partitioning and imprisoning the Palestinian people;
"- a segregated road system (one set of roads for cars with Israeli plates, and another much inferior one for cars with Palestinian plates) throughout the West Bank, constructed by the Israeli state and enforced by the Israeli army;
"- a system of permits (identification cards) that limits the travel of Palestinian people and functionally imprisons them;
"- militarized checkpoints with barbed wire and soldiers armed with automatic rifles and the humiliation and harassment the Palestinian people experience daily;
"- harmful living conditions created and enforced by Israeli law and policy such as limited access to water and electricity;
"- violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, and the ongoing growth of illegal settlements facilitated by the Israeli military;
"- homelessness as a result of the razing of Palestinian homes by the Israeli state;
"- home invasions, tear gas attacks, “skunk water” attacks, and the arrest of Palestinian children by the Israeli military as part of ongoing harassment."
On Israel and Israeli society they state:
"[W]e gained new insights into how Israeli civil society is profoundly affected by the dehumanizing effects of Israeli state policy. [However] we were moved by the immense struggle being waged by some Israelis in resistance to state policies that dehumanize and deny the human rights of Palestinians."
While travel restrictions prevented the group from entering the Gaza Strip, they write:
"[W]e believe the blockade of the Gaza Strip has produced a humanitarian crisis of monumental proportion."
The statement ends with a commitment to share what the delegation "saw and heard" with their LGBTIQ communities. The statement also includes several summary points "in solidarity with the Palestinian people". Some of these summary points are:
"Liberation from this form of colonization and apartheid goes hand in hand with the liberation of queer Palestinians from the project of global heterosexism.
"We call out and reject the state of Israel’s practice of pinkwashing, that is, a well-funded, cynical publicity campaign marketing a purportedly gay-friendly Israel to an international audience so as to distract attention from the devastating human rights abuses it commits on a daily basis against the Palestinian people. Key to Israel’s pinkwashing campaign is the manipulative and false labeling of Israeli culture as gay-friendly and Palestinian culture as homophobic. It is our view that comparisons of this sort are both inaccurate – homophobia and transphobia are to be found throughout Palestinian and Israeli society – and that this is beside the point: Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine cannot be somehow justified or excused by its purportedly tolerant treatment of some sectors of its own population. We stand in solidarity with Palestinian queer organizations like Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (PQBDS) whose work continues to impact queer Palestinians and all Palestinians. (www.alqaws.org, www.pqbds.com)
"We urge LGBTIQ individuals and communities to resist replicating the practice of pinkwashing that insists on elevating the sexual freedom of Palestinian people over their economic, environmental, social, and psychological freedom. Like the Palestinian activists we met, we view heterosexism and sexism as colonial projects and, therefore, see both as interrelated and interconnected regimes that must end.
"We stand in solidarity with queer Palestinian activists who are working to end the occupation, and also with Israeli activists, both queer and others, who are resisting the occupation that is being maintained and extended in their name.
"We support efforts on the part of Palestinians to achieve full self-determination, such as building an international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement."
Signatories of the statement include: Katherine Franke (director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia University), Barbara Hammer (filmmaker responsible for some of the first lesbian-made films in history), Darnell Moore (director at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, one of the USA's largest LGBTQ youth organizations and also a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at NYU), Pauline Park (co-founder of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy, the first USA statewide transgender advocacy organization), Jasbir Puar (core faculty member at the Women's & Gender Studies department at Rutgers University), Roya Rastegar (programmer at the Tribeca Film Festival and was part of official the programming team at the Sundance Film Festival), Dean Spade (attorney and professor of law, in 2009 Spade was listed as one of "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World") and Kendall Thomas (Professor of Law and co-founder of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia University in the City of New York).
The full statement is titled, "An Open Letter to LGBTIQ Communities and Allies on the Israeli Occupation of Palestine" and can be found on the website www.queersolidaritywithpalestine.com
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