NY’s LGBT center cancels pro-Palestinian event after donor/porn-merchant says it’s ‘anti-Semitic’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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This is awful. New York’s LGBT Center was to host a “Party to End Apartheid” on March 5 during Israeli Apartheid Week. The event has been cancelled, under explicit financial pressure from a large donor. (Forward did the story yesterday.)

Here, under the title “Don’t let wealthy bigots shut down free speech” is a petition signed by Sherry Wolf and Judith Butler among others, protesting the cancellation.

We, the undersigned, are LGBT people and allies who condemn the stifling of free speech at New York’s LGBT Center due to pressure from wealthy supporters of Israel’s anti-Palestinian policies.

A slanderous press release followed by a threatening call-in campaign led to the cancellation of an Israeli Apartheid Week event scheduled for March 5, 2011, and the right of peaceful pro-Palestine activists in the Siegebusters group to meet at the Center.

New York’s LGBT Community Center has a 28-year history of accommodating the needs of oppressed and marginalized groups and allowing controversial opinions to be aired. It is a sanctuary for those seeking a democratic organizing space.

The recent press release by Michael Lucas, a wealthy gay porn entrepreneur, threatened a boycott and defunding campaign if the Center didn’t cancel the event, which it tragically agreed to do. If activists allow this decision to stand, the Center will go from being a liberated space of democracy and free speech to yet another occupied, homogenized venue where wealthy and powerful voices can squelch all the rest.

Village Voice gets it:

The LGBT Center released a two-sentence statement: “We have determined that this event is not appropriate to be held at our LGBT Community Center, which is a safe haven for LGBT groups and individuals. Therefore, the meeting at The Center has been cancelled and the host group will no longer meet at The Center.”

But the LGBT Center hosts hundreds of events a year, ranging from A to Z and beyond. Does the Center endorse the viewpoint of every group, forum and discussion that occurs within its walls? Why did the Center find the Israeli Apartheid Week event to be appropriate when it booked the space, but not after Lucas complained?

Here is porn king Michael Lucas’s press release attacking the event and describing the Israel Apartheid Week group as “an anti-Semitic organization.”

He further demands that the LGBT Center’s leaders publicly apologize, and pledge to ban any and all anti-Semitic groups from using their facilities in the future.

“I’m preparing to organize a boycott that would certainly involve some of the Center’s most generous donors,” said Lucas. “It was an inexcusable decision on the Center’s part to associate itself with a hate group like Israeli Apartheid Week, but there’s still time for them to reverse course and begin restoring their reputation.”

Lucas says he has already spoken with a number of other furious LGBT Center supporters who plan to withdraw all future donations should the “Smash Israeli Apartheid” party go forward.

Anti-Israeli groups, like IAW, are using the pretext of support for Palestinians to stoke old anti-Semitic hatreds and perpetuate Jewish stereotypes. They’re also growing increasingly and aggressively pro-Islam.

What does aggressively pro-Islam mean? Oh my god. This is sad, pathetic awful, and reflects the deep divisions within the liberal New York community over Israel. And yes the deep divisions within Jewish life, which is such a determinative factor in liberal culture. Note that on any other issue you would not see the donors coming forward, you wouldn’t see the brave advocates of freedom quailing and flailing and folding. But they do, they do!

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