Campaign Case Study: US Social Forum (WIN)
Stand with Us proposed a workshop that was accepted at the 2010 US Social Forum entitled “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East.” The described purpose of the workshop was “to expose the underground LBGTQI Liberation movements that currently exist across the Middle East.” The description claimed its goal was to get participants to support queer rights in the Middle East and “connect them with outlets through which they can offer their support.”
When word got out about the proposed workshop, folks started to protest. A group composed of queer Arab organizations (Helem, Al Qaws, ASWAT, and Palestinian Queers for BDS) sent out a press release, announcing that they were “appalled by the US Social Forum’s decision to allow Stand with Us to utilize the event as a platform to pinkwash Israel’s crimes in the region.” They went on to argue “while Stand With Us is quick to point out the oppression of queer Palestinians under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, it conveniently forgets that those same queers are not immune to the bombs, blockades, apartheid, and destruction wrought upon them daily by the Israeli government.” On June 23rd, the leadership of the US Social Forum voted to cancel the workshop.
It is clear from SWU’s response that the workshop would have portrayed Arab countries as homophobic and backwards: its focus would have been “the persecution, honor killings, torture, and execution of gays in most Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Palestinian communities.” SWU claimed that Palestinian activists were afraid of the facts coming to light, which “would have pointed an accusing finger at the Middle Eastern governments that are among the worst perpetrators of crimes against gays. They happen to be the very same governments and people who want to destroy Israel.” And there lies their agenda…Surprise! Anti-gay= Anti-Israel.
- “Arab Queers Say NO to Pinkwashing at the USSF by Helem, Al-Qaws, ASWAT, and Palestinian Queers for BDS” MR Zine June 16, 2010
- “US Social Forum cancels exploitative Zionist workshop” (Electronic Intifada June 23, 2010)
- “US Social Forum 2010: The Stench of Hypocrisy” (Stand With Us July 2, 2010)
- Amnesty International on Israel/Palestine