On Sunday evening, dozens of Seattle residents gathered outside Town Hall where Mayor Ed Murray received an award for his Israel advocacy from Stand With Us, a group that does public relations for a conservative agenda supporting the Occupation of Palestine. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and Voices for Palestine gathered outside, holding signs such as “No More Fake Progressive Mayors” and “Stop the IDF.” Inside, four Jewish Queer people disrupted Mayor Murray’s acceptance speech, drawing attention to Mayor Murray’s deep connection with a conservative agenda in Israel and his support for militarism and systemic racism both in Seattle and in Israel.
Under Murray’s administration, Seattle Police Department have traveled to Israel to be trained by the Israeli Defense Forces. In 2015, Mayor Murray ignored public protest and went on a delegation to an LGBT conference in Tel Aviv. The Seattle Times reported that the Seattle Police Department sent two police officers to accompany Mayor Murray in order to learn tactics from the Israeli Defense Force and other Israeli Security. Mayor Murray and Stand with Us use what critics call “pinkwashing”, a public relations strategy of portraying Israel as a liberal democracy signified by its acceptance of LGBT to shroud the human rights abuses and apartheid regime in Israel. Most recently, the City of Seattle LGBTQ commission hosted a transgender Israeli military officer who is touring the United States in connection with Stand With Us.
Four protesters stood up during Murray’s award to disrupt the proceedings, chanting, “Listen to Hunger Strikers from Washington to Palestine. End incarceration and apartheid now!” One disrupter, Eliana Horn, says: “Murray’s acceptance of this award reveals him for who he truly is: under his watch, Seattle police has exchanged the worst practices of oppression with the Israeli military, he has deliberately subverted criticism of Israel by encouraging pink-washing and he has refused to back down from the youth jail.”
Disrupter Mollie Wolf says: “Fighting for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel is not anti-semitic. 1,700 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike, the siege of Gaza continues, an apartheid regime has carried on for over sixty years. We are fighting for an end to the occupation, the right of return for Palestinian refugees and equal rights for all Palestinians.”
Protesters outside the event sought to make connections between the Murray administration granting the permits for King County’s controversial new youth jail, the current hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners, and the training of Seattle Police by the Israeli military. Their protest aimed to expose Murray as a “fake progressive” who is actually at the forefront of policing, criminalization and militarism.