Sunday, May 6, 2012

Two Videos on Israeli Pinkwashing and the 20th Annual Global LBGT Summit in Philadelphia

This year's ongoing 20th anniversary Global LBGT Summit in Philadelphia has chosen to honor Israel as its featured nation, and asked Israel's ambassador to the USA, Michael Oren, to keynote the conference. One of the conference's past important participants, Dr. Katherine Franke, Director, Columbia Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, decided to boycott the conference as an attendee, but to instead deliver a video address. 

Here is her video address:

Here's what I regard as the most important part of her statement:
To uncritically celebrate Israel at a conference organized around notions of equality and liberty, and have Michael Oren serve as the keynote speaker at the “international equality dinner,” is taken as a slap in the face by our queer brothers and sisters in Palestine as well as by the queers within Israel who are actively seeking a just resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. By avoiding any programming that offered a balanced view of the human rights record of its “featured nation” the Equality Forum lost an important opportunity to be a leader in the international gay human rights movement, and instead allowed itself to be used as a part of Israel’s larger efforts to deflect criticisms of its human rights record.

I say these things mindful that when I have talked in other venues about our trip in January and have tried to paint a picture of the complexity of gay rights in the region my comments have been met with some of the most intense criticism in my career – I have discovered how hard it is to express any criticism of Israeli state policy or any sympathy toward the plight of the Palestinians without being called anti-semitic. There must be some room in our community to have a mindful and critical conversation about the politics of this region that does not get immediately labeled racist or hateful.
Here's a short video showing one attendee denouncing ambassador Oren during his keynote  speech:

Disruptions of talks, presentations, speeches or other events by Israeli officials or spokepeople are getting more commonplace every week.  And the frequency of these protests will continue to accelerate unless the US Congress passes a law or laws making it criminal to express any criticism of that increasingly racist government and society. 

Don't count that out in this country.

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