Queer times in Palestine and Israel – Pinkwashing among the bigots
TO New York, where the righteous are picking their prejudices. At a meeting called “Creating Solidarities: A Conversation with Members of the First U.S. LGBTQ Delegate to Palestine”, the enlightened are talking about their trip to the Palestinian territories.
Jasbir Puar, a professor of women’s and gender studies at Rutgers, was on the trip. She tells the panel that “the occupation of Palestine is one of the most contentious issues in queer organizing today”.
How so? Well, we can’t be certain. What we do know is that during their stay, the group were told to hide their homosexuality. But lest you think that is odd, Puar explains, “it doesn’t take away from the fact that there is an occupation. We can’t judge a country by its attitudes towards homosexuals.”
This is Puar who tells Guardian readers that the EDL is an “extremist rightwing” hate group that propagates anti-Muslim racism. Anti-Semitism is rife in the Middle East. “One day kill all Jews,” comes a chant from the “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood. The Arab press features Nazi-inspired cartoons of the evil Jew (more here).
So. Puar despises racism. But she notes that you can be gay and a bigot, but only as an extension of their victimhood:
Far from being disadvantaged members of such rightwing movements, racial minorities and gay and lesbian people are offered a way of reclaiming an otherwise withheld national belonging – to be British is to be anti-Muslim – while maintaining their exceptional minority status.
She adds in another article:
While Israel may blatantly disregard global outrage about its wartime activities, it nonetheless has deep stakes in projecting its image as a liberal society of tolerance, in particular homosexual tolerance. These two tendencies should not be seen as contradictory, rather constitutive of the very mechanisms by which a liberal democracy sanctions its own totalitarian regimes.
As one audience member pointed out protections for minorities, including gays, is a requirement to join the European Union. When an audience member further pressed Jasbir as to why Israel was being picked on as pinkwashing when other countries do the same, Puar (left) replied, “My critique of Israel stems out of my critique with the United States. The United States is a settler state too. Absolutely!”
Israelis – openly gay ones, too – who believe in the Bible, Exodus and Promised Lands may wonder. That for them. But it’s all bit odd, isn’t it. In Israel, sexual discrimination is outlawed, gays can work in the military and gay adoptions are legit.
Israel is far from perfect. There are Isreali bigots and homophobics. But why does Puar make it all about the US and Israel?
Andrew Ratto asks:
Panelists also made much about their fears of being in Israel proper: Puar said her friends told her she’d never be allowed in—she even made a fake Facebook account to obscure her identity—but the professor sailed through Israeli security because “I looked so ineffectual and miserable.” She told the audience how it “was such a relief to get to Ramallah” where sadly she had no cell phone reception because the Israelis wouldn’t allow it.
Park’s biggest worry was passing through Israeli checkpoints and having her belongings confiscated, but she breezed right through security as well.
So the problem for these activists is that there was no problem?
Well, so long as you hide your sexuality in the Palestinian Territories, no…