The Gay Rights Movement Has an Anti-Semitism Problem

Last year I started the process of conversion to Reform Judaism.  My reading had led me to a form of spirituality that embraced ethical practices and beliefs that I considered bedrock lifetime values.  Embracing Judaism and wearing a Magen David pendant have heightened my awareness of antisemitism.

I’m a senior citizen, married to my partner of nearly 20 years.  I was a 1960s folkie and hippie, anti-war activist.  A pioneer trans-activist, part of the Second Wave Feminist Movement and the Lesbian Feminist Movement.

I honestly don’t recognize the movements of today.  People who were major figures are forgotten while others we barely recognized back in the day are lionized because they fit a particular political paradigm.

LGBT is being turned in to an arm of Revolutionary Politics when the first 50 or sixty years were mainly about attaining basic civil rights.  Including being able to teach, hold civil service job and serve in the military.  I went to my first marriage equality rally back in 1970.  Troy Perry was establishing MCC in those days.  I met women studying to become the first female Rabbis.

I feel the movement is being taken away from LGBT people and repurposed by the post-modern left wing version of the Tea Party with all their “anti- settler-colonialist” babble which make less and less sense the more you examine it.

I’m on Anat Hoffman’s Israel Religious Action Center’s mailing list and I am aware of Israel’s flaws. Nonetheless Israel is far freer and is a bar better place for women and LGBT people than any of the Islamic states it shares proximity with.

From The Jewish Journal:

By Blake Flayton
Feb 26, 2020

My identity as a Jew and my identity as a gay man are inseparable. Contrary to traditional beliefs regarding religion and sexuality, I believe these two parts of myself enhance each other rather than compromise each other. The LGBTQ Jewish community carries a long history of excellence. We are writers, activists, artists, politicians, academics and teachers. The convergence of identity and the greatness that has been born from this community are special to me. From Rabbi Sandra Lawson to Troye Sivan to Efrat Tilma, queer, Jewish expression seems to be stronger than ever.

Yet, despite this representation, blatant anti-Semitism currently wreaks havoc in the LGBTQ community.

The first time I heard the word “pinkwashing” was when I mentioned to a friend that I was interested in attending the Tel Aviv Pride Parade last summer. My friend supported me but warned me against posting any photos of the parade online, as I would be accused of pinkwashing. I asked her what she meant. “Pinkwashing?” she said. “When Zionists pretend that Israel is the pinnacle of human rights because of how they treat gays? To distract from the way they treat Palestinians?”

This was the first time I heard this term, but it certainly was not the last.

The “anti-pinkwashing” movement is gaining traction in the gay community. My friend was correct in her description: Its mission is to end government-sponsored exploitation of gay constituents so as not to distract from inexcusable corruption or wrongdoing. On paper, the movement seeks to separate nationalism from queer liberation and to honor the voices of queer, oppressed people worldwide. But in reality, the movement tethers the identities of gay Israelis to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and undermines their autonomy simply because they are citizens of the Jewish state. To the devout gay rights activist, any display of Jewish gay pride is now conditional; it must totally and officially distance itself from the Jewish state to be valid.

Consider the controversy surrounding the 2019 D.C. Dyke March. This event was a unique opportunity for the queer women of Washington to display their solidarity with one another, but under one condition: Jewish queer women could not display any “nationalist iconography,” meaning the Star of David, if it resembled an Israeli flag. At a similar event in Chicago, Jewish women carrying rainbow Star of David flags were forced to leave. In New York, Israelis participating in a gay pride parade were surrounded by protesters shouting, “No pride in apartheid!”

Imagine if you were an American marching in a European pride parade and suddenly you were isolated from the crowd and intimidated with chants of “Screw Donald Trump!” simply because of your nationality. That, of course, wouldn’t happen. The queer liberation movement does not hold a queer person responsible for the actions of their government — unless of course, they are Israeli.

To make matters worse, more and more LGBTQ organizations are openly supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolutions. How can this movement, which emphasizes the rights and dignity of all people, support BDS, an initiative that constantly discriminates against both Israeli and Diaspora Jews in academic, artistic and political spaces?

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