I was surprised and disappointed by your editorial denouncing the Queens Pride House for its sponsorship of a public forum that was critical of the Israeli government’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories, especially since your article reporting on the event was a perfectly straightforward and honest account of what happened (“An attack on Israel, here in Queens,” June 6).
Your labeling and name-calling does not help foster an atmosphere of debate and open discussion. For instance, calling Sarah Schulman “anti-Israel” because she put forth an articulate criticism of Israeli government policies makes me wonder if you would call me un-American since I am critical of several policies our own government pursues every day.
You also make it sound as if pink-washing does not exist. It is true that our LGBT Jewish sisters and brothers in Israel have secured some important civil rights, and it is also true that other nations in that region have terrible records in relation to LGBT people. But none of that negates another very important fact: Every day the rights of all Palestinians, queer and straight, are assaulted by the brutality of the Israeli occupation.
Additionally, one cannot dispute the fact that the Israeli government has been on a public relations campaign to clean up its image internationally, and one component part of that is to promote Israel as a haven for gay people. Their image has been sullied because of their horrendous treatment of the Palestinian people for decades. This is the context in which many of us have been speaking out against pink-washing by the Israeli government.
I also disagree with your assessment that Israel is a functioning democracy. Yes, there are important democratic rights granted to those who are Jewish. But if you are not Jewish, most of those rights disappear ... even if your family has lived there over several centuries. You cannot claim to be a democracy when significant portions of your own population are denied access to all of the rights accorded others, all based on religious identity. That’s not my idea of democracy, whatever nation it takes place in.
As a lesbian, as a person committed to ending military occupations everywhere, and as a citizen of the world who supports the struggles for full social, political and economic rights here in the U.S., in the Middle East, and wherever they are being carried out, I say thank you to the Queens Pride House for hosting this event. I hope they will invite us to other forums like this in the future and not shy away from what might seem to be controversial issues.