The LGBTQ Left Has an Anti-Semitism Problem
Many social movements fall apart because of infighting and petty bickering. The liberal American LGBTQ community is certainly not free from silly quarrels, and many insiders have long predicted that, post-marriage-equality, the community would splinter into squabbling factions. But a half-year out from Obergefell, a legitimately troubling problem has begun to tear at the seams of the LGBTQ movement. That problem is anti-Semitism.
After much outcry, especially among LGBTQ Jews, the Task Force reinstated the event. In response, a group of about 200 protesters marched through the conference on Friday and crashed the reception, holding signs that read “Cancel Pinkwashing” and “Zionism Sucks.” The speakers from Jerusalem Open House, who had just taken the stage, were quickly hustled out. Their presentation was canceled. The protesters won.
It is entirely reasonable to criticize Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The country’s brutal occupation of the West Bank is a human rights catastrophe, and the continued legal discrimination toward Palestinian citizens of Israel makes a mockery of equal justice. Israel’s periodic ruination of Gaza, which carries with it a shockingly high civilian death toll, is appalling. These issues are fair game at any conference that purports to support international social justice.
But A Wider Bridge and the Jerusalem Open House community center do not support the subjugation of Palestinians. In fact, neither group is especially engaged in the Israel-Palestine debate. Both focus on bringing equal rights to LGBTQ people in Israel and fostering connections between LGBTQ communities in Israel and America so they can share strategies.
The mere existence of a connection to Israel, however, was apparently too much for the 200 protesters at Creating Change. They angrily accused A Wider Bridge of participating in “pinkwashing.” According to pinkwashing theorists, Israel’s effort to grant civil rights to LGBTQ people is really just an insidious attempt to cause a distraction from its human rights violations elsewhere. Israel may protect LGBTQ people from job discrimination and allow them to serve openly in the army, jointly adopt children, and recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere—but, this theory goes, these triumphs are just a ruse. In reality, Israel is tossing scraps to the LGBTQ community, then loudly talking up its tolerance to drown out the sound of Palestinian suffering.
The concept of pinkwashing is extraordinarily insulting. It presumes that the Israeli government has no interest in promoting LGBTQ rights except to help mask its oppression of other groups. This presumption
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