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Activist Communique: Queers Against Israeli Apartheid bow out of pride, gain strategic advantage over Mayor Ford

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No, I won't defer to acronyms for the title of this communiqué. I'm not afraid of the words "Israeli" and "Apartheid" standing next to one another.

In fact, watch this: Israel Apartheid.

Israel = Apartheid.

Israeli + Apartheid = an example of the systematic oppression of an Indigenous population.

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid -- also known by its acronym QuAIA -- raison d'être reads:

"formed to work in solidarity with queers in Palestine and Palestinian resistance movements around the world. Today, in response to increasing criticism of its occupation of Palestine, Israel is cultivating an image of itself as an oasis of gay tolerance in the Middle East.

As queers, we recognize that homophobia exists in Israel, Palestine, and across all borders. But queer Palestinians face the additional challenge of living under occupation, subject to Israeli state violence and control. Israel's apartheid system extends gay rights only to some, based on race.

There is no pride in apartheid, and QuAIA is dedicated to fighting it wherever it exists. We work in solidarity with anti-colonial struggles and with queers leading their own struggles of resistance."

[Maybe I lack a basic understanding of the English language, but nowhere in the above statement do I find the words "We want the destruction of Israel" or "We want to push all Israeli citizens into the sea." Nope, can't find one reference anywhere.]

The group has marched in Toronto's annual Pride Parade as well as being critical of Israel's gay PR campaign.

Its presence in Toronto's Pride Parade has gotten people both upset and nervous about the politics of the word: Apartheid.

This has led to the threat from Conservative members of Toronto council seeking to either ban the group or cut off Pride Toronto's funding  -- lobbied BY numerous pro-Israeli groups if it allows the group to continue to march in the Pride Parade.

My kingdom for a horse? The loss of pride funding over a word?

All this fury from Toronto city council even though earlier this week, a report by city manager Joe Pennachetti which concluded the term "'Israeli Apartheid" does not violate Toronto's anti-discrimination policy and the inclusion of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in the parade should have no bearing on whether the festival itself receives funding -- the report was commissioned because of controversy regarding the inclusion of the group last year's parade.

According to a press release from the group released this morning, QuAIA stated its reasons for pulling out of this year's Pride parade, preferring instead to independently host a series of events. Please check their website for an upcoming schedule: http://queersagainstapartheid.org

The group did not want its group's inclusion in the Pride Parade to be the red herring excuse for Toronto Mayor Rod Ford's to cut Pride funding.

QuAIA's new plans will pose a challenge for Mayor Rob Ford, who announced that he would cut more than $100,000 in city tourism funding for Pride Toronto if QuAIA continued to march.

"Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up," says Elle Flanders of QuAIA. "By holding our Pride events outside of the parade, we are forcing him to make a choice: fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed."

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