Thursday, June 17, 2010
Let's compare the event description with the avowed purpose of Stand with Us:
We, the undersigned queer Arab organizations, are appalled by the US Social Forum’s decision to allow Stand with Us to utilize the event as a platform to pinkwash Israel’s crimes in the region. Stand with Us is cynically manipulating the struggle of queer people in the Middle East through its workshop entitled LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East.
Stand with Us is a self-declared Zionist propaganda organization which describes itself as an international education organization that ensures that Israel’s side of the story is told in communities, campuses, libraries, the media and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and thousands of pages of Internet resources.
Stand with Us has no connection with the LGBT movement in the Middle East apart from ties to Zionist Israeli LGBT organizations, yet it claims to speak for and about our movements. It has no credibility in our region, and as organizations working in and from the Middle East, we condemn its attempt to use us, our struggles, our lives, and our experiences as a platform for pro-Israeli propaganda.
Since Israel’s brutal wars on Gaza and Lebanon in 2006 and particularly after the recent unprovoked attack on the flotilla of activists going to Gaza, the Israeli government has found itself increasingly marginalized by international condemnations and weakened through the growing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. To remedy this, it has launched a massive PR campaign using organizations such as Stand with Us to convince the world that Israel is not a brutal settler-colony state, but rather a free democracy where human rights in general, and LGBT rights in particular, are respected and upheld. Stand With Us deceptively uses the language of LGBT and women’s rights to obscure the fact that institutionalized discrimination is enshrined within the state of Israel.
Our struggle is deeply intertwined with the struggle of all oppressed people, and we cannot accept that we are being used as a tool to discredit the Palestinian cause. Stand with Us would have everyone believe that the Palestinian cause is an unworthy one because of the homophobia that exists within Palestinian society, as if homophobia does not exist elsewhere, and as if struggles for justice are predicated on some sort of inherent goodness of the oppressed, rather than on the principles of freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, everywhere. Stand with Us would have us all compartmentalize our beliefs, lives, and identities so that solidarity with the queer struggle would preclude solidarity with others.
While Stand With Us is quick to point out the oppression of queer Palestinians under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, it conveniently forgets that those same queers are not immune to the bombs, blockades, apartheid and destruction wrought upon them daily by the Israeli government, and that Israel’s multi-tiered oppression hardly makes a distinction between straight and gay Palestinians.
We refuse to be instrumentalized by anyone, be it our own oppressive governments or the Zionist lobby hijacking our struggle to legitimize the state of Israel and its policies, thus providing even more fodder for our own governments to use against us. If you want to learn about our movements and struggles, engage with us, rather than with those who will use us as pawns in Israel’s campaign to pinkwash its crimes.
The inclusion of Stand With Us at the USSF is an egregious oversight on the part of the forum. We ask the forum to justify this inclusion given that it violates its own principles of anti-racism, uniting oppressed communities, prioritizing marginalized voices, and opposing US foreign policy. The USSF should be held accountable to its own standards. We look forward to hearing its plans to address the situation.
Helem, Lebanese Protection for LGBT
Al-Qaws, For Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society
ASWAT, Palestinian Gay Women
Palestinian Queers for BDS, pqbds.wordpress.com
Now, here's how Stand With Us summarizes some of its activities:
Event Date: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 10:00am - 12:00pm
Event Location: WSU Manoogian: 112
The purpose of this workshop is to expose the underground LBGTQI Liberation movements that currently exist across the Middle East. We will seek to explore the cultural context of the status of the LGBTQI community across time and the vast mosaic of cultures that make up the region. After establishing a historical context, we will introduce participants to the stories of young people from across the region striving for acceptance. Some stories are harrowing and gut wrenching, while others are triumphant, but all are inspirational. The end goal is to engage the participants in supporting the cause of LGBTQI Liberation, and to connect them with outlets through which they can offer their support. We plan on having information available on how to connect with the offices of different Middle Eastern LGBTQI non-profits, and will offer material produced by StandWithUs which uses information collected by such organizations as Amnesty International for participants to walk away with so that they can better educate their own communities about the realities of the Middle East
Organizer Name: Brett Cohen
Organizer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
First Sponsoring Organization Name: StandWithUs
Democracy and Governance
To the Left: building a movement for social justice: intersections and alliances across race, class, gender, sexuality, age, ability . . .
Sounds like a perfect fit for the US Social Forum. Fits right with the purpose of the Stand with Us event as consistent with the Forum's objective of building a movement for social justice: intersections and alliances across race, class, gender, sexuality, age, ability . . . , doesn't it? After all, what better way to address the the perils of Arab and Muslim LGBTQI people than through a Zionist organization? Maybe, at the conclusion of the event, the participants can put forward a resolution in support of IDF military intervention in support of oppressed LGBTQI people for approval, especially those in Iran who will be liberated through an air strikes on Iranian nuclear research facilities.
SWU Protests Durban II - April 2009
» Ready For Durban III
Jerusalem Post front page editorial by Michael Dickson, director Israel office who attended Durban II. April 26, 2009
SWU Support Israel - HAMAS War!
» New Wave of Pro-Israel Action Hits The Streets
Jewish Daily Forward. Jan. 8, 2009 by Rebecca Spence
» Israel Activists Blending New, Traditional Tactics in PR Battle
Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Jan. 13, 2009 by Ben Harris and Joshua Spiro
» IDF soldiers give testimonies to counter Gaza war crimes claims
Haaretz, July 16, 2009 by Cnaan Liphshiz on www.soldiersspeakout.com
SWU Responds to Anti-israel Campus Activities
» StandWithUs Stands Against Campus Anti-Zionism
Arutz Sheva by Shauna Naghi November 23, 2007
» Fighting Back
JTnews, February 24, 2010 report on SWU Northwest Regional Campus Israel Advocacy Conference
» Fighting "Apartheid" accusations on campus
SWU fights IAW in The Jewish State, March 5, 2010, by Alexander Traum
And, by the way, did I mention that Stand with Us is playing a prominent role in harassing anti-Zionist academics in the US? Maybe next year, the Forum can invite someone from AIPAC to speak on non-violent methods for resisting US and Zionist imperialism. If not, David Horowitz would be a good alternative, and he loves the limelight. If you want to communicate with the Forum about this situation, go here.