Israeli GLBT Politics between Queerness and Homonationalism

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Israeli GLBT Politics between Queerness and Homonationalism

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Debates about homonationalism seemed to be at the focal point of Pride 2010. International attention was lavished on two events in particular. In Germany, Judith Butler refused to accept the Berlin Pride Civil Courage Award, in protest of growing commercialism, complacency towards racism, and the exploitation of GLBT and queer people by war mongers. Across the ocean at Toronto Pride, activists tried and failed to censor the words “Israeli Apartheid” (and hence the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid). At the same time, with less international attention, related questions were also at the heart of heated debates about the nature of the annual pride parade in Tel Aviv.

In 2001, after the beginning of the second Intifada, a group of friends – myself included – decided that given the egregious human rights violations in the occupied territories, they could not take part in the pride parade as usual. Instead, they would march as a group, dressed in black and carrying a banner declaring “There is no pride in the occupation.” The group attracted a great deal of attention, both at the parade itself and later in the local and international press. This led to the founding of the queer-radical activist group Black Laundry. In subsequent years, even after Black Laundry was disbanded, informal groups carried banners with similar slogans in the Tel Aviv parade, as well as in other parades held in Israel, and were sometimes dubbed the “black-pink coalition.”

Those years also saw advances in the protection of gay and lesbian rights in Israel, primarily through litigation, combined with some legislation, continuing a process that started in the late 1980’s. At the same time with Israel continuing its policies of violence and occupation directed at the Palestinians, the government and its advocates began to use gay rights as a fig leaf for Israeli democracy. What was originally a piecemeal effort has in recent years become a well-documented, orchestrated campaign, in which gay rights in Israel and the relative liberalism of Israeli society in this area are flaunted and used to paint a picture of Israel as a progressive liberal democracy.

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Unionist

Yes, Catchfire, it's a phenomenon we've all now clearly noticed. And it's used by some of the trolls on this board in quite an insidious fashion - see the Brent Hawkes thread for example.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Ha. While I didn't see our friend Winnifred's thoughtful contribution to that thread, I had seen this bizarre piece of propaganda crop up in the QuAIA threads. I found this blog today and thought it was an astute and complex summation and analyis of the politics involved.

MCsquared

I was at Rev. Brent's birthday parrty and being new here perhaps you can explain the politics. Tributes, I thought were really heartfelt. Doug Elliott who I adore spoke so wonderfully as did laura and the Jewish congress person. It was a grand evening so i am a bit lost. Maybe its the humid air here at my friend's cottage in the Ottawa valley, don't mean to be dense .

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

You can find that discussion here, MCsquared. And welcome to babble!

Unionist

Well Catchfire, I finally read the excellent blog item from the OP - though I found it a bit hard to follow the whole political evolution in what was obviously a pretty concise presentation. It was eerie to see some of the same pressures and debates experienced there as here - with the ominous backdrop of a whole subjugated people who lack the status and privilege to even participate in that debate.

 

MCsquared

Catchfire wrote:

You can find that discussion here, MCsquared. And welcome to babble!

Thanks Catchfire that was somewhat helpful. Though must admit to still trying to put the puzzle together. There appears to be some animosity here against the Jeiwsh Congress and I guess it has to do with their pro-Israel stand on most issues which I get. Yet I must say that there was a large number of Jewish representatives at Brent's shindig from the CJC and Kulanu (a Jewish LGBTQ group) and Brent not only warmly welcomed them but went out of his way to thank for being there.

I also saw Bob Rae, Barbara Hall, Peter Tabens, and many freinds from the MCC so I remain still a bit unsure of the rest of the animosity.

MCsquared

Thank you Unionist. Are you always this way?

milo204

although i think it's important to point out when people like israel or blair do something RIGHT.  they certainly aren't going to get anything but negative reactions from their traditional base of support.  Doesn't mean we can't fight against what they do wrong, but when we refuse to acknowledge any positive steps taken we just get alienated and then they don't do ANYTHING.  We don't have to fawn over them, we just have to acknowledge it was the right decision, because they don't make many.

Unionist

MCsquared wrote:

Thank you Unionist. Are you always this way?

No, but your nickname inspired me to deconstruct the well-known equation and see if I could capture all the key concepts (energy, speed, light, mass, and of course relativity) in a single post. How would you rate my effort?

 

Lachine Scot

I think the attention on homonationalism re:Israel is a welcome development, but I would like to see the same kind of critical eye given to Canadian homonationalism, which generally gets a pass.  For example, why should Vancouver Pride and its support from levels of government here not be analyzed in the same way as Israeli "pinkwashing", considering it is also on unceded, colonized land?

Luckily, many queers are critical of the Canadian state as well, and I don't mean to undermine that, but I still think we should use this homonationalist concept to examine things a bit closer to home..

 

 

MCsquared

Unionist wrote:

MCsquared wrote:

Thank you Unionist. Are you always this way?

No, but your nickname inspired me to deconstruct the well-known equation and see if I could capture all the key concepts (energy, speed, light, mass, and of course relativity) in a single post. How would you rate my effort?

 

While I might give you a B for effort I think you need to learn to play better in the sandbox with others.

Unionist

Do you have a list of games to suggest?

By the way, I think you'll find a lot of animosity to pro-Israeli politics on this discussion board, so don't be too shocked if you hear people questioning whether the Canadian Jewish Congress is truly Canadian, truly Jewish, and what kind of "congress" they engage in whilst in that sandbox you mentioned.

 

MCsquared

It would seem to me that when it comes to games you would be the master. As for CJC, their politics are not my politics. However the only one it seems who questions their citizenship and faith is you.

Polunatic2

CJC doesn't speak for me either. 

jtleroy

Look i can really understand how many here would be hard set against CJC. However to question whether CJC is "Canadian" smacks of xenophobia. What exactly is being inferred by questioning CJC's Canadianism? Are we to understand then that those who work for or volunteer for CJC ought to have their bonafides as a citizen questioned?

And claiming that CJC is not "Jewish" is just silly.

I guess when targeting its policies go nowhere the next retreat is to attack its fidelity to Canada. This just smells rotten.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Welcome to Canada. We like Sri Lankans but think Tigers are terrorists.  We like Turkey and think Turkish Kurds are terrorists.  We hate Iran so we think Iranian Kurds are freedom fighters.  We love Israel so Hamas are terrorists. Our politicians of Chinese descent are likely to be on the payroll of the evil empire if they go on business junkets but all Canadian politicians should go on free junkets to Israel supplied by the CJC to learn the real truth. 

A lot of things smell rotten, don't you think?

Gus Williams

Well here we go again...CJC are not Canadian (hmmm what can they be????) And thanks for the clarification Unionist, I wonder where profit and jacu disappeared to. Seems they crossed a line, I guess they were to nice to CJC so I will be careful. Must watch my opinions carefully.

I have a hard time with that but this is not my board so I try to play by the rules. So have an opinion but if its an opinion that the mods don't like, especially if it supports the so-called mainstream Jewish community, be perpared for the boot. MCsqured, be careful. You may be next.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

"So called mainstream Jewish community" is a very good description.  Much like the Hamas is part of the mainstream Palestinian community.  

Support for the Israeli government and the IDF is the same to me as support for Palestinian suicide bombers.  I don't support either do you?  Many of us have a hard time with the CJC support of the brutal occupation and all its negative effects on the millions living in open air prisons.  Do you not see the Palestinians as people or just people that are less worthy than their Israeli neighbours?

 

Unionist

I guess jtleroy didn't like my innuendo about "congress" meaning copulation. S/he managed to be humourlessly indignant about everything else I said. We've had some Israel boosters here with at least a remnant of a sense of humour. Don't tell me we booted the wrong ones... By the way, Kropotkin, great post!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

This thread is not about the Canadian Jewish Congress. This thread is not about the Canadian Jewish Congress!

jtleroy

Seems that the Canadian jewish Congress is a bit of spark here. Apologies, it was not my intention to move us away from the topic. Its just I felt unfair that Unionist would infer that a group with a history of almost 100 years in this country as foreign.

Unionist

Catchfire, I'm a bit puzzled by the theme of the thread that you want to emphasize. If (as it appears) it's about purely Israeli politics (as per the OP linked article), then please make that clear - though I suspect it may then be of limited interest to babblers, though i could be wrong.

But if, as I thought, it's about the worldwide attempt by Zionists to co-opt LGBTQ politics and people in the service of their anti-Arab and pro-Israel propaganda, then surely its manifestation in Canada is of crucial importance. I'd like to understand better the apparent alliance of interests between Bernie Farber and Rev. Hawkes. I was told that his birthday celebration thread wasn't the proper one to do so. Ought I to open another?

Sorry for the meta-drift, but a simple reply would be helpful.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

No, it seemed to me that the discussion had shifted from queer liberalism and the hijacking of queer politics in the interests of homonationalism to a definition of the CJC, its raison d'être, and its political agenda specifically. Of course, the CJC's role in this international tendency is more than up for debate: I was trying to shift the discussion (not as a mod, but as the author of the OP) to this larger narrative, one focused on queer politics rather than CJC politics.

I don't blame you, U. I'm sure our new guests are just concerned about the CJC, which is why they introduced the drift. Why wouldn't they be? There's a lot to be concerned about.

But this thread is in the LGBT forum. And that is the lens we should be employing here, in my opinion.

jtleroy

I happen to agree with Catchfire and regret that I fell into unionist's thread drift. I unreservedly apologize.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

jtleroy wrote:

I happen to agree with Catchfire and regret that I fell into unionist's thread drift. I unreservedly apologize.

 

My apologies for thread drift. I will note the drift came in post #6.  Nice slag to Unionist though.  Your style is impeccable. Strange though that the poster who caused this thread drift also seems to share many of your views.  I hope you will pay closer attention before calling people out for behaviour committed by someone who shares your views.  

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

It appears that the Zionist strategy of using LGBT rights to prop up aparthied has gone one step further:

The 'Palestinization' of lesbian activism

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When I was much younger, I took an idealistic view of gays and lesbians -invariably associating them with divine artists, writers, dancers, composers, playwrights and civil rights activists. But then, when I began working with real lesbian and bisexual women as part of my feminist activism, I discovered that -like everyone else -lesbians were neither angels nor devils. Like men, many lesbian feminists I met had internalized sexism and homophobia, and did not really respect or trust other women. In many cases that I observed, they used their intimate groups to bully, isolate and then shun any lesbian feminist who was "out of line" -despite the common pretense that feminist groups are leaderless and free-thinking.

In particular, I discovered that lesbians, bisexuals and "queers" often are expected to toe a party line when it comes to the Middle East. I am talking about the Palestinianization of lesbian feminists, including -perhaps especially -Jewish lesbian feminists, who are more concerned with the rights of a country that does not exist, "Palestine," than with the rights of real Muslim women who are forced to veil themselves, accept arranged marriages and whom are victimized by honour killings when they are seen as too western or disobedient.

I have seen these North American lesbian "queers" at university-based Israel Apartheid Week events in America and Canada, wearing kaffiyas, sporting buttons that say "I am a Palestinian," "I am a Jewish antiZionist" or "Jews For Justice in Palestine." Many wear military buzz cuts and boots, carry heavy backpacks and sport other insignia of the EuropeanArab Street and ACT-UP-style protests. Were these women to dress this way in the West Bank or Gaza, they would be persecuted for their appearance -or worse.

As a commenter on Antonia Zerbisias's facebook wall, whence I plucked this gem, wryly noted: isn't it amazing that the media has not picked up on the "Israelization of house wives in Dakota County." Heh.

See also Jonathan Kay's inimitable critical edge: Why is Jonathan Kay obsessed with lesbians?

Unionist

MC², you don't need to be Einstein to figure out that some people on a progressive board might not appreciate praise for Bill Blair and praise for Israel. It's not all relative, you know. I'm sure if you invest a little more energy, the light will turn on and you can get up to speed with the mass movement.

Unionist

Israel, bastion of something or other:

[url=http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.563186]Israeli LGBT activists mobilize online after gay rights bill fails[/url]

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LGBT rights activists have taken to Facebook to protest and vent over the failure of a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

When the bill was blocked from reaching the Knesset plenum for a vote, gay rights activist Yonatan Vanunu started a Hebrew-language Facebook page on Tuesday under the banner “LGBTs Demand Equality." By Wednesday evening, it garnered nearly 4,000 likes.

In a post on his Facebook page, Vanunu lashed out against what he sees as a general and pervasive rejection of LGBT people by the government.

“I did full military service, I am an independent business owner who pays taxes, I pursued academic studies and I am also gay," he wrote. "Many people say that sexual orientation does not define the person; that being gay is only in bed; that no one cares what I do behind closed doors. And there's nothing that annoys me more than this attitude. Homosexuality is not just in bed! It’s a relationship, it’s a family, it’s a community.

“Surprisingly enough, my country actually does define me by my sexual orientation. It defines me as unacceptable. As unequal to my brothers or friends. Although I’m single now, someday I also want to get married and start a family in Israel."

Five ministers from the Yisrael Beiteinu and Habayit Hayehudi parties killed the bill on Sunday when it came before them in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, but one online petition seemed to place the blame on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, charging him with neglecting the LGBT community.

“In August 2009, after the Bar Noar murders, you made a much appreciated visit to the gay youth center in Tel Aviv to express your support for the gay community,” the petition reads, alluding to a shooting that killed two and wounded 15. “Unfortunately, since that day, your support has not been evident. We have encountered only closed-mindedness from you when it comes to our constitutional rights and the discrimination we experience as productive and tax-paying citizens in the State of Israel.”

 

Unionist

[url=http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/.premium-1.563623]Netanyahu notably uses the gay issue for his propaganda war abroad but avoids it at home[/url]

Quote:

I do not recall Netanyahu ever saying “homosexual” or “lesbian” in Hebrew. I do, however, recall at least 10 instances in which Netanyahu spoke about “gays,” in English, in his American accent. It wasn’t in the Knesset or at a cabinet meeting, but in speeches he gave at the AIPAC conference and before the U.S. Congress and the UN General Assembly.

In Israel, Netanyahu flees from LGBT issues as though they were on fire, but abroad he enjoys using the community for propaganda purposes in his war against a nuclear Iran. In almost every speech he has made in the United States or Europe, Netanyahu points out that in Iran they hang gay people in the public square, while in Israel we have gay pride parades.

 

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

No civil unions for Israel.

JerusalemPost wrote:

The Knesset voted down two bills regarding civil unions and marriage on Wednesday with a majority vote of 50 to 39 for each bill.

The first bill, proposed by Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie sought to create civil unions, an alternative for those who could not have their weddings officiated by the rabbinate or other religious authorities, such as gay couples, couples of different religions, a cohen and a divorcee, etc.

[...]

"The Knesset turned their backs on the value of equality in order to please the religious parties that want to continue to dictate to the Israeli public how to marry and divorce."

Unionist

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Welcome to Canada. We like Sri Lankans but think Tigers are terrorists.  We like Turkey and think Turkish Kurds are terrorists.  We hate Iran so we think Iranian Kurds are freedom fighters.  We love Israel so Hamas are terrorists. Our politicians of Chinese descent are likely to be on the payroll of the evil empire if they go on business junkets but all Canadian politicians should go on free junkets to Israel supplied by the CJC to learn the real truth. 

A lot of things smell rotten, don't you think?

I still love this kropotkin post!