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Ilhan Omar, human rights orgs voice support for Palestinian LBTQ group under attack from Palestinian Authority

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US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, along with several Palestinian human rights groups, jumped to the defense of queer Palestinians in the wake of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) ban on an LGBTQ group in the occupied West Bank.

Al-Qaws for Gender and Sexual Diversity in Palestinian Society made headlines last week when the PA police spokesperson, Louay Irzeiqat, issued a statement declaring that the police would be prohibiting any of al-Qaws’ activities in the West Bank.

Claiming that al-Qaws’ activities “go against traditional Palestinian values”, Irzeiqat called the group’s members “foreign agents”working to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.”

Irzeqat called on the Palesitnian citizenry to report any “suspicious activity” from the group and its members.

“LGBTQ rights are human rights,” Omar wrote in a tweet Monday night, “and we should condemn any effort to infringe upon them.”

The Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), made up of a dozen local human rights groups, also voiced its support for al-Qaws and called on the PA to reverse its decision, which the PHROC said violated both Palestinian civil and international human rights laws.

The move by the PA police came after al-Qaws held a two-day “Queer Camp,” which it described as a “discussion-based” event in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, widely considered to be one of the most conservative cities in the Palestinian territory.

Al-Qaws received an onslaught of hate-filled messages and threats on their social media after advertising for the event, which the group said “threatened violence and prosecution, promoted lies about al-Qaws and our activities as well as myths about LGBTQ people in general.”

The group said in a statement that despite maintaining a strong social media presence, in both English and Arabic, for years, they had “never received threats to this extent before.”

“This backlash paves the way for unethical media practices to thrive by adopting and fueling violent discourse that is gaining traction and legitimacy in social media,” the statement said.

The group went on to call on both the Palestinian police and civilians to “focus on combatting the occupation and other forms of violence that tear apart the sensitive fabric of our society and values, instead of prosecuting activists who work tirelessly to end all forms of violence.”

Throughout its statement, al-Qaws repeatedly emphasizes its work as an “anti-colonial organization,” dedicated to fighting “patriarchal, capitalist and colonial oppression.”

A few days later, in a followup statement entitled “5 Ways to Support Palestinian Queers,” al-Qaws urged that those covering the events refrain from “pinkwashing” the issue at hand, saying “our struggle as queer Palestinians is against Israeli colonialism as much as it is against homophobia and oatriarchy in Palestine.”

The new statements came in direct response to extensive Israeli and right-wing US media coverage of the PA’s ban on al-Qaws that framed the situation using racist tropes of the oppressive Arab society versus the enlightened Israeli one.

“Perpetuating tiresome tropes of presenting Palestinians as inherently oppressive and Israel as a liberal state that protects LGBTQ rights is counter-productive and factually baseless,” the group said.

Omar linked to the group’s statement in her tweets as a response to demands from the right-wing media for herself and Tlaib to respond to the PA’s ban.

She reiterated that her view that support of Palestinian LBTQ rights should go hand in hand with fighting against the occupation, saying:

“Pretending that this act somehow balances or mitigates Israel violating the dignity and rights of Palestinians—or undermines cases for defending Palestinian rights—is deplorable.”

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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15 Responses

  1. pgtl10 on August 22, 2019, 8:08 pm

    “The move by the PA police came after al-Qaws held a two-day “Queer Camp,” which it described as a “discussion-based” event in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, widely considered to be one of the most conservative cities in the Palestinian territory.”

    Nablus is also considered the Palestinian San Francisco because of its gay community.

  2. Yani on August 23, 2019, 5:08 am

    GRRRRR All the effort that has gone into countering pinkwashing down the drain because of this act of stupidity. The Zionists will be having a fricken field day with this info.

    OH I AM RIGHT PISSED OFF YOU CAN BE SURE OF IT!!!

  3. Misterioso on August 23, 2019, 10:37 am

    Kudos to courageous U.S. Congresswoman, Ilan Omar!!

  4. FightTribalism on August 23, 2019, 3:11 pm

    Palestinian Authority is a subcontractor of the Israeli occupation. As an occupying force, Israel is responsible for civil administration of the occupied people. By having PA, they absolve themselves of any responsibilities of occupation while still maintaining the ability to arrest, kill and resettle anyone.

    Not only that, but Israel taxes Palestinians to fund PA, so Palestinians are funding and running their own occupation while Israel still controls the paychecks.

  5. Emet on August 23, 2019, 4:28 pm

    Palestinian gays and lesbians have for many years found shelter with the help of Jews. The policies of the Palestinians against gays and lesbians has been well known and documented for many, many years. And only now the squad members have something to say? Hypocrites, pathetic and opportunists.

    • eljay on August 23, 2019, 9:27 pm

      || Emet: … Hypocrites, pathetic and opportunists. ||

      That is an excellent, three-word description of Zionists.

      • Emet on August 25, 2019, 2:46 am

        The handbook says that if you are not able to refer to the facts or if the facts do not serve your agenda, then engage in personal attacks. What about the gays eljay? Time for you to leave the cesspool of Palestinian falsehoods.

      • eljay on August 25, 2019, 9:04 am

        || Emet: … What about the gays eljay? … ||

        What about them, Emet?

        || … Time for you to leave the cesspool of Palestinian falsehoods. ||

        It’s a long-proven fact – not a “cesspool of Palestinian falsehoods” – that Zionists are hypocrites, pathetic and opportunists.

        Time for you to leave the cesspool of your hateful and immoral ideology.

      • Talkback on August 26, 2019, 5:51 am

        Emet: “Time for you to leave the cesspool of Palestinian falsehoods.”

        So far every example of what you call “Palestinian falsehoods” turned out to be a Zionist lie.

        But let me ask you one question, Emet. Why does an orthodox Jew like you care about Palestinian gays? Do you think that they deserve more freedom and protection than Palestinians in general? Why don’t you support the rights to freedom, equality and justice (in other words the BDS’ goals) if you care about Palestinian gays? Are you an example of what you call “Hypocrites, pathetic and opportunists.”?

      • Emet on August 26, 2019, 3:34 pm

        Talkback, the point is that pseudo liberal Jews have been brainwashed into thinking that the Palestinian cause is a cause worth sacrificing for, a cause worthy of world support, when we know it is not. Pseudo liberals love supporting gay rights but for some reason, when it comes to Palestinians abusing gays, the buzzword is shhhhhhhhhhhhh, never mind.
        When it comes to Palestinian terror attacks against Jews, the buzzword is, shhhhhhhhhhh, never mind. When it comes to Palestinians killing Israeli babies, the buzzword is, shhhhhhhhh, never mind.
        And BDS has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with rights to freedon, equality and justice. The intention of BDS is to bring an end to the only Jewish State on this earth, to then make way for another Muslim state. Anyone who knows anything about the Koran and Muslim states will tell you what will happen once the Islamic radicals and/or fundamentalist take over.
        Why don’t you tell us why Palestinian Arabs massacred Jews in Hebron in 1929 when there was no “nakba”? Never mind, shhhhhhhhh.

      • Talkback on August 27, 2019, 4:22 am

        Emet: “Pseudo liberals love supporting gay rights but for some reason, when it comes to Palestinians abusing gays, the buzzword is shhhhhhhhhhhhh, never mind.”

        The other side of the coin is an orthodox Jew like you who doesn’t love supporting Palestinian, gays’ or lesbian’s rights all but for some reasons, when it comes to Palestinian gays, he needs to point out that Jews are not deniers of fundamental Palestinian rights, but helpers of Palestinian gays. So much for “hypocrits, pathetic, and oppurtunists”.

        Emet: “Why don’t you tell us why Palestinian Arabs massacred Jews in Hebron in 1929 when there was no “nakba”?”

        Oh, the Nakba actually started with the mandate when the mass immigration of Jewish foreigners and settlers was enforced upon the native population of Palestine who expelled Arabs farmers from land purchased by Jews. So one of the reason for “Arab” violence against Jews has always been Zionism with its declared goal to take over Palestine and driving out Palestinians. When it comes to the Hebron massacre we also have to point to the hundreds of Jewish nationalists who marched to the Western Wall in Jerusalem shouting slogans such as “The Wall is Ours” while raising the Jewish national flag. Arabs feared that Jews would take over the Temple Mount and rumors had spread that Jews had commited a massacre against Arabs. That’s not an excuse, but an explanation for this violent escalation. Compare this to Zionist massacres for example in Deir Yassin.

        But since you need to point out that Jews would help Palestinian gays why don’t you point out that Arabs helped Jews during the Hebron massacre?

        And why don’t you tell us why and which Jews joined the Jewish legion in WW1?

      • Talkback on August 27, 2019, 5:03 am

        Addendum:

        Emet: “And BDS has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with rights to freedon, equality and justice. The intention of BDS is to bring an end to the only Jewish State on this earth, to then make way for another Muslim state.”

        Oh, BDS has everything to do with freedom, equality and justice and northing to do with creating another “Muslim” state. And if you think that this would be the end of a “Jewish” state than this should be the way to go for moral, democratic and humane reasons. You would aks the same ending for a “Muslim” state in all of Palestine/Eretz Israel, wouldn’t you. Don’t deny that Israel ended the only Palestinian state on this earth.

        So either one argues like a racist (“Jewish” or “Muslim” state) or one applies universal principles. What’s your choice, Emet? Don’t answer if you feel ashamed of your racism.

      • RoHa on August 27, 2019, 9:09 am

        “the Nakba actually started with the mandate”

        And is still going on.

      • eljay on August 27, 2019, 11:39 am

        || RoHa: “the Nakba actually started with the mandate”

        And is still going on. ||

        Shame on the Palestinians for continuing to make Zionists shoot-and-cry and do “necessary evil” unto them.  :-(

    • Elisabeth on August 24, 2019, 5:42 am

      Palestinian gays are routinely blackmailed by the Israeli occupation into collaboration. Ah, all that ‘help’ from friendly Jews.

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