Brave ‘NYT’ describes Israel’s efforts to ‘pinkwash’ occupation

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Queers for Palestine protest the Jewish National Fund (Photo and more here

Groundbreaking Op-Ed in today’s Times from CUNY professor Sarah Schulman on Brand Israel and the pinkwashing of the Israeli occupation. Everyone is talking about this today. Wow. A piece aimed at the Brand Israel campaign, a piece aimed at the hateful occupation. The mainstreaming of a term that only Palestinian solidarity activists have used for the last few years. The neocons have got their knickers in a twist today. Go New York Times! Put our website out of business!

From the article “Israel and ‘Pinkwashing’“:

In 2005, with help from American marketing executives, the Israeli government began a marketing campaign, “Brand Israel,” aimed at men ages 18 to 34. The campaign, as reported by The Jewish Daily Forward, sought to depict Israel as “relevant and modern.” The government later expanded the marketing plan by harnessing the gay community to reposition its global image.

Last year, the Israeli news site Ynet reported that the Tel Aviv tourism board had begun a campaign of around $90 million to brand the city as “an international gay vacation destination.” The promotion, which received support from the Tourism Ministry and Israel’s overseas consulates, includes depictions of young same-sex couples and financing for pro-Israeli movie screenings at lesbian and gay film festivals in the United States. (The government isn’t alone; an Israeli pornography producer even shot a film, “Men of Israel,” on the site of a former Palestinian village.)

This message is being articulated at the highest levels. In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the Middle East was “a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted.”

The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics “pinkwashing”: a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that “gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool,” even though “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.”

Pinkwashing not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community, but it also ignores the existence of Palestinian gay-rights organizations. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West Bank since the 1950s, when anti-sodomy laws imposed under British colonial influence were removed from the Jordanian penal code, which Palestinians follow. More important is the emerging Palestinian gay movement with three major organizations: Aswat, Al Qaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. These groups are clear that the oppression of Palestinians crosses the boundary of sexuality; as Haneen Maikay, the director of Al Qaws, has said, “When you go through a checkpoint it does not matter what the sexuality of the soldier is.”

What makes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies so susceptible to pinkwashing — and its corollary, the tendency among some white gay people to privilege their racial and religious identity, a phenomenon the theorist Jasbir K. Puar has called “homonationalism” — is the emotional legacy of homophobia.

About Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz

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18 Responses

  1. seafoid
    November 23, 2011, 3:18 pm

    There was a great video a while back about Toronto GLBT activists against the occupation .
    Israeli pinkwashing is a fraud.
    Eli Yishai is a cabinet minister . Women are currently being targeted. The gay community will be next.

    • patm
      November 23, 2011, 6:42 pm

      There was a great video a while back about Toronto GLBT activists against the occupation.

      Here’s the video, seafoid.

      • patm
        November 23, 2011, 8:39 pm

        Here’s another video by the Greek performance arts group Land Annexation Society targetting the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

      • seafoid
        November 25, 2011, 4:01 am

        Thanks Patm

        I love that video.

  2. American
    November 23, 2011, 3:41 pm

    Here another one that indicates PC on Israel and the zios is dying.

    Holocaustology 101

    • seafoid
      November 23, 2011, 5:13 pm

      From the link

      And Israel will not be given another 63 years. If it continues down this path, aided by its false “friends” in the U.S. who insist on fighting Hitler-redux to the last Israeli (and the last American), Israel is doomed. But if it abandons its self-defeating Holocaustology, it will be able to live in peace with its neighbors and join the world.

      there is what Finklestein said

      I think Israel, as a number of commentators pointed out, is becoming an insane state. And we have to be honest about that. While the rest of the world wants peace, Europe wants peace, the US wants peace, but this state wants war, war and war. In the first week of the massacres, there were reports in the Israeli press that Israel did not want to put all its ground forces in Gaza because it was preparing attacks on Iran. Then there were reports it was planning attacks on Lebanon. It is a lunatic state.

      And what was in today’s Ha’aretz

      “Glenn Beck, the main guest of honor and the clear-cut local hero, held the crowd in enraptured silence for over an hour as he travelled seamlessly between then and now, between the Weimar Republic and present-day America, between the Nazi regime and the Caliphate that “will destroy Israel and the Western way of life”, between World War II and World War III, between the Dutch boy whose warnings of impending doom were ignored even as his grandfather was pushed on the train heading East and those today, like Beck himself, who understands that “the time is now”, that there are only 18 months left to change the world and that “when the window closes – you’re gone,” as he told his Jewish listeners.

      And while the ZOA may have been relegated to the sidelines of the Jewish mainstream in the heady days of the Oslo Accords almost twenty years ago – and found itself nearly ostracized following the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin – the organization is now representative of the world view of ever-increasing numbers of conservative and right-wing Jews and gentiles in America and is arguably much more in step with the prevailing winds inside Israel’s corridors of power than most of the traditionally prominent American Jewish organizations. ZOA president Morton Klein and the other speakers on Tuesday night could have been speaking for the majority of Israel’s ruling coalition when they told their audience that the whole world is against us, it’s good versus evil with no middle ground, the 1930’s are back with a vengeance and compromise and nuance are weaknesses that we cannot afford. “

      • Keith
        November 23, 2011, 9:48 pm

        SEAFOID- “Europe wants peace, the US wants peace”

        You can’t be serious.

    • annie
      November 23, 2011, 5:45 pm

      thanks american. hot link.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    November 23, 2011, 4:59 pm

    RE: “the Tel Aviv tourism board had begun a campaign of around $90 million to brand the city as ‘an international gay vacation destination.’ ~ Schulman

    MY COMMENT: Perhaps they should use a little of that $90 million to apprehend the gunman who attacked the Tel Aviv gay centre in 2009.


    (excerpts) The 2009 Tel Aviv gay centre shooting resulted in the deaths of two people and injuries to at least fifteen others at the Tel Aviv branch of the Israeli GLBT Association…
    As of October 2011, the crime remains unsolved
    …On the evening of August 1 [2009] at around 23:00, an unknown person with firearms entered the “Aguda” building in Tel Aviv, and opened fire on the crowd attending an Israeli Gay Youth (IGY) event, and immediately escaped thereafter. Two people were killed, and fifteen were wounded. The police had launched a search campaign to find the shooter, and in addition immediately closed most of the entertainment places for the gay community that operated during the same time of the shooting event, for fear of additional shooting.
    The gunman entered the building where a weekly event was being held (in the basement), shot in several directions and then fled on foot.[2][5][6] The building was frequented by gay teenagers who engage in social activities and listen to music.[6][11] The centre was small with one terrace; thus preventing anyone from escaping.[6] They instead hid under a bed and tables as shots were fired.[6][11] Israeli television said the crime scene was a “bloodbath”.[7]…
    …The shooter was masked, dressed in black and used a pistol to carry out his attack.[2][5][8][11][12] It is not believed his motive was related to nationalist terror but the exact motive is currently unclear.[2] The city’s gay community stated the killer had a homophobic motive while police have cautioned people that the attack may not have been a hate crime and that the motive remains unknown…

    SOURCE –

    • Tristan
      November 23, 2011, 5:20 pm

      Thanks, Dickerson. That’s what immediately sprang to my mind as well.

  4. eGuard
    November 23, 2011, 5:59 pm

    So, to be clear: a gay person in the occupied West Bank says:
    – “Please keep occupying, you are the most modest dictator I could have”
    – “I wish I could go to Tel Aviv”
    – “I wish I could go back home”
    – “I support the x state solution”
    – “Leave me alone, Ill manage. Go home, where you came from”

  5. lobewyper
    November 23, 2011, 8:41 pm

    Interesting post, Phil and Adam,

    But don’t get too excited about the NYT obviating the need MW any time soon…ain’t goin’ to happen!

  6. RoHa
    November 23, 2011, 11:07 pm

    “Homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West Bank since the 1950s, when anti-sodomy laws imposed under British colonial influence were removed from the Jordanian penal code, which Palestinians follow.”

    Hold on. How come the Jordanians needed the British to impose anti-sodomy laws? And then removed them later? Aren’t we always being told that A-rabs are ferociously anti-homosexual, and were it not for Israel there would be a blood bath of homosexuals throughout the entire world?

  7. justicewillprevail
    November 24, 2011, 8:24 am

    How funny. When it suits Israel, it drops the military machismo image it has cultivated for years, and gets up the drag act, fluttering its eyelashes at students and young people. Ooh look at us, we’re so liberal and modern. The sight of Yahoo and his cronies dragged up in order to make a propaganda point, not that they care a stuff about civil rights as we know, is either a sign of desperation or utter cynicism. Probably both. More Dame Edna than Harvey Milk, methinks. A gift to cartoonists and satirists, though.

  8. dahoit
    November 24, 2011, 11:45 am

    This has been going on for years,this movement to portray the Muslims as backward thugs,from Afghanistan to Iraq and wherever.They have used the children angle,the woman’s angle and now the gay rights angle.
    But as many have pointed out,our own country is full of conservative reactionaries from Mormons to Baptists to whomever,and that Israel has also many religious conservatives.Hypocrisy is killing US.
    And the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of is killing the menfolk(husbands,brothers,uncles and sons)to liberate the women,a most evil and counterproductive act.

    • Mooser
      November 25, 2011, 8:46 pm

      “And the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of is killing the menfolk(husbands,brothers,uncles and sons)to liberate the women,a most evil and counterproductive act.”

      Yes, but isn’t it amazing that the US drones can tell them all apart?

      • Chaos4700
        November 25, 2011, 10:18 pm

        They’re almost as accurate about missing non-combatants as an Israeli white phosphorous mortar!

  9. Donald
    November 26, 2011, 7:15 pm

    If you think about it this is actually the NYT doing its usual thing–printing the weakest possible criticism of Israel. Look at several possible op eds one could imagine the NYT publishing–

    A) The NYT publishes Bishop Tutu or some Israeli arguing that Israel really is guilty of apartheid, exposing Judge Goldstone’s reasoning in his recent column as fatuous. Did the NYT do this? Nah.

    B) The NYT publishes Kenneth Roth from HRW or some other human rights expert pointing out that Israel was guilty of using indiscriminate firepower in urban areas during the Gaza War. Or they could publish one of Jerome Slater’s pieces on that subject. Did they do this? Nah.

    C) Or the NYT could publish a piece which points out that Israel has a relatively progressive record on gay rights and that this shouldn’t be used to defend its policies of oppression against the Palestinians. Which leads them wide open to the sorts of letters they in fact publish a few days later, pointing out that yes, Israel does indeed have a relatively good record on gay rights.

    So the net result–Israel comes out looking a little imperfect, but better than its neighbors on gay rights. And the Palestinian issue is sidelined. So sure, Phil, go right ahead and praise the NYT because “pinkwashing” has now been mainstreamed.

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