How do BDS, Islamophobia, Zionism, and LGBTQ fit together?

The “Pink Protest” in Israel.

Femina Invicta and Bi radical have written great pieces here and here on “pinkwashing” in Israel, a practice which invisibilizes the needs and realities of many LGBTQ youth in Israel as well as the experiences of Palestinians (LGBTQ or not) who suffer at the hands of Israeli soldiers. I highly recommend their pieces, which are prime examples of intersectional analysis of LGBTQ experiences. Bi radical, in particular, acknowledges the effects of Zionism, Islamophobia, propaganda, and brutal occupation on the ongoing narrative about LGBTQ life in Israel. An excerpt from Bi radical’s piece, “BDS, LGBT, and Why You Should Care about Pinkwashing,” is posted here:

So, What’s This “Pinkwashing” Anyway?

“Pinkwash” is the term we, LGBT (Bisexual, Transgender, Lesbian and Gay) activists, use in order to describe the way in which the Israeli government makes cynical use of both the Palestinian and Israeli queer communities in order to market Israel to the international public as a “liberal” “progressive” “gay haven,” while demonizing Arabic Middle Eastern cultures and presenting them – and Palestine in particular – as inherently homophobic (an Islamophobic notion whose goal is to further justify Israeli war crimes in Gaza, the occupied territories and against Palestinian citizens of Israel). The Israeli government, through the Ministry of Tourism and with kind help from the Tel Aviv municipality, makes use of the relative tolerance and meager rights given to Jewish gays and lesbians (but not bisexuals and transgenders), as a way of diverting attention from the many Israeli war crimes performed in Gaza, the occupied Palestinian territories and inside Israel itself.

Here it is worth noting that the occupation does not differentiate between queers and non-queers – thus, under the occupation, Palestinian LGBT people are denied even the most basic human rights such as freedom of movement, medical care, education, livelihood etc. Palestinian LGBT’s living inside Israel face systematic, legalized policies of apartheid discriminating against them in all walks of life, rendering them de facto second class citizens. Without a doubt, the occupation is currently the number one factor responsible for the oppression currently experienced by Palestinian LGBT people. However, Israeli pinkwashing propaganda chooses to present a false image in which Israel becomes a beacon of White light in the “darkness” of the Middle East, presenting the “progressive” Tel Aviv as a “gay Mecca” for Palestinian LGBT’s escaping their “conservative” and homophobic society.

In fact, Palestinian LGBT’s escaping their families receive a less-than-welcoming treatment from the Israeli government. For those living in Gaza and the occupied territories, the government offers the benefit of an illegal immigrant status, imprisoning and subsequently deporting the ones caught by  Israeli police and military forces. As for Palestinian LGBT’s who live within Israeli borders, the government remains indifferent to their condition and lends no resources, help, nor sanctuary for those in need of its assistance. Thus the Israeli government is free to ignore the needs of Palestinian LGBT’s seeking help, while capitalizing on Palestinian society’s alleged conservatism and LGBT-phobia for its own needs of propaganda. Needless to say, of course, even those Palestinian LGBT’s residing in Israel, accepted by their families and living a peaceful life, are still forced to face copious amounts of racism and apartheid policies in their everyday lives, including within the Jewish LGBT community.

However, the cost of pinkwashing takes its toll not only from Palestinians, but also from Jewish LGBT people, as incidents of violence, discrimination, harassment and mistreatment  against us are discretely silenced so as to prevent injury to Israel’s “progressive” image. Thus, several acts of anti-LGBT violence in Tel Aviv as well as in Jerusalem taking place in the past two years have been conveniently neglected by the eye of the media and from public attention, remaining unaddressed by most everyone.  (emphasis added)


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