By emphasizing the thriving gay community in cities such as Tel Aviv in order to portray Israel as an oasis of gay freedom and democracy in the Middle East, Israel advocacy groups use racist language and imagery to suggest that Israel is surrounded by “backwards” homophobic, uncivilized Arabs, including Palestinians. Blaming “fundamentalist Islamic beliefs,” groups such as Stand With Us (SWU), a Right Wing Israeli advocacy organization, highlight the violence that gay Palestinians face from their families and authorities in Palestine. Of course, they never mention the violence all Palestinians, whatever their sexual orientation, face from the Israeli government.
Israel, they proclaim, is a sanctuary for the LGBT community because of its gay pride parades, LGBT themed TV shows (seriously?), and civil rights. Gay Palestinians, according to SWU, find refuge in Israel; however, they conveniently ignore the fact that Palestinians are specifically ineligible for asylum under Israeli law. Claiming that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that supports gay rights, SWU explicitly asks gays around the world to support Israel. Denying Israeli homophobia, SWU and other advocacy groups attempt to recruit gays by pitting the safety of some universal category of GLBTQ folks against Palestinians without acknowledging the work queer Palestinians are already doing as they simultaneously fight against homophobia and Israeli occupation.
- Stand With Us LGBT booklet
- Stand With Us flyer “Why does Israel look like paradise to gay Palestinians”
- Haaretz article “Israel recruits gay community in PR campaign against Iran” by Barak Ravid (4/20/2009)
- “Out of the closet and into the streets of Tel Aviv” (Videos) and “Come to Gay Pride in Israel” (produced by Blue Star PR for the Israeli government)
- Time magazine article “Is Israel Using Gay Rights to Excuse Its Policy on Palestine?” by David Kaufman (May 13, 2011)
- AlterNet article “Right-Wing Israeli Extremists Using Gay Rights to Justify Incursions into Arab Villages” by Marsha Cohen (6/27/2009)
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