What is pinkwashing?
Pinkwashing is the practice of using gay rights to draw attention away from the violation of other human rights.
In the case of Israel, both the state and its supporters argue that Israel must defend itself because it is the only country in the Middle East where gay people have rights. This argument aims to divert international attention away from Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights by isolating gay rights from universal human rights for all.
Israel’s PR Campaign
Since Israel began its re-branding campaign, it has been aggressively marketing itself as an oasis of gay tolerance and democracy in the Mideast, surrounded by “backward” countries where gays have no rights. The campaign is not about supporting queers in Palestine or elsewhere in the Mideast who are resisting homophobia. It is about using their experience of homophobia to promote hatred of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims – including queer Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. The campaign is designed to make people living in liberal democracies like Canada feel an affinity for Israel. The implication is that Israel needs to practice apartheid, colonialism, and violence in order to preserve the liberal freedoms it enjoys. It might be unpleasant, but surely we can understand the exceptional circumstances?
Read more about Israel’s track-record on gay rights: [link to bottom of page section: Queers still face homophobia in Israel, like everywhere else. No country is free of homophobia]
Nothing comes clean with Pinkwashing
On June 20, 2012 QuAIA launched its Anti-Pinkwashing campaign with a panel on pinkwashing.
Check out what you missed:
What do breast cancer, the tar sands, and Israeli apartheid have in common?
A panel discussion about the use of gay rights and breast cancer awareness to draw attention away from: toxic chemicals in cosmetics // environmental damage // racial segregation // violation of human rights // rising cancer rates // and more…
Guest speakers: jesse crass (writer, the Dominion) & Samantha King (author, Pink Ribbons, Inc)
jesse crass is a gender/queer, working class kid currently residing in montreal. In October 2011, jesse published an article in the Dominion titled: “Pink Crude: Tar sands supporters criticized for using gay rights to mask environmental disaster”
Samantha King is associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University, where she is cross-appointed with the Department of Gender Studies and the Cultural Studies Program. Her teaching and research engages with the cultural politics of sport, health and the body. She is currently working on a project that explores the practice and meaning of painkilling in contemporary Canadian cultures. Her book, Pink Ribbons, Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, is the subject of an NFB documentary by the same name.
What can you do?
Join the Global Queer Movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel at Pinkwatching Isarel [http://www.pinkwatchingisrael.com/]
Promote Anti-Pinkwashing Visibility by:
Buying a QuAIA pinkwashing tank-top
Read more about the tactics of pinkwashing in:
Israeli Defense Force Pinkwashing QuAIA culture-jam
Queers still face homophobia in Israel, like everywhere else. No country is free of homophobia.
Examples of Israel’s use of gay rights as a propaganda tool
Out of the closet and into the streets of Tel Aviv. “A peek at LGBT acceptance and freedom in the Middle East.” Produced for the Israeli government by by bluestarpr.com
Come to Gay Pride in Israel. Also produced for the Israeli government by bluestarpr.com
LGBT Track Record of Pro-Israel Lobby Groups
Here in Canada, some of the most vocal defenders of apartheid Israel, like B’nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress, are keen to use gay rights to make this argument. We hear, “You can’t be gay in Palestine!” Yet B’nai Brith Canada has closely aligned itself with homophobic
Christian fundamentalist leaders Charles McVety and John Hagee. According to Dr. Stephen Scheinberg, former chair of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, the organization actively decided not to support extending protection from hate speech to gays and lesbians in order not to offend its evangelical Christian allies.
Meanwhile, one of the two co-presidents of the Canadian Jewish Congress until June 2009, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, sat on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the U.S.-based National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). The sole purpose of NARTH is to promote “conversion therapy” to straighten out queers; they believe that homosexuality should be listed as a psychiatric disorder. For these reasons, neither the CJC nor B’nai Brith today have much credibility in talking about gay rights. Many members of QuAIA are active in efforts to support queers in countries throughout the Mideast. The CJC and B’nai Brith are absent from those efforts.
The reality is that both organizations used to be strong allies of the queer community, from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. But as both have increasingly made support of apartheid Israel the sole focus of their activity, their politics and their alliances have shifted sharply to the right, on queer rights and many other issues. Queer rights are now just a propaganda tool in the defense of apartheid Israel.
Same Old Arguments
During the long struggle against apartheid South Africa, many of the same arguments were used in its defense: it was an island in a sea of “backwardness”, it was the only “democracy” in the region; it protected liberal rights — even the status of gays in South Africa was invoked. Because of its special circumstances, it was argued, South Africa needed its apartheid system to protect those freedoms for the favoured race. One day, the argument that Israel needs to practice apartheid and colonialism to protect the freedoms of a favoured race will seem equally hollow.