There’s pride in resistance, not apartheid

After the disruption of Israeli pinkwashing at Pride 2014, GayNZ asked activists involved to submit an article. This contribution comes from Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (Aotearoa), an online network including members of Fightback.

We are Arabs, Jews, Māori, Pākehā, Asians. We are queer. We value the work that LGBTI activists before us have done to improve the lives of queers in Aotearoa and the world over. We value Pride for creating a queer-positive space where our community can come together and celebrate who we are.

But we are not proud that queer struggles are hijacked by the state of Israel in order to ‘pinkwash’ its colonial violence towards Palestinians. We were not proud to see the Embassy of Israel included in Auckland Pride. This is why we had to take a stand, to protect queer spaces from being complicit in Israeli apartheid.

Pride_Israeli_Protest_2_-_John_Darroch.jpg

For many, our protest came as a surprise. The Israeli embassy, however, had anticipated the presence of protesters. In a press release just days before the event, the embassy was clear that their participation in Pride was motivated, not by a desire to support LGBTI rights, but as a PR exercise in response to Wellington protests against an Israeli Embassy-sponsored dance show.

The cynical use of queer rights as a publicity strategy to create a positive, humane image for Israel is not new, nor is it exclusive to New Zealand. In 2011 the Jewish lesbian writer Sarah Schulman published an op-ed in the New York Times criticising Israel’s ‘strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life’. Other prominent queer Jews have echoed Schulman’s criticism of pinkwashing, including Judith Butler and Aeyal Gross.

The pinkwashing narrative presents a familiar racist trope: Arab societies are conservative, gender normative and homophobic. Israel is the only Middle-Eastern country where gays have equal rights. Queer Palestinians escaping persecution in their own communities relocate to Israel for asylum.

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A 2008 report on gay Palestinian asylum seekers in Israel, published by Tel Aviv University’s Public Interest Law Program, presents a very different picture. The report found that gay Palestinians who escape to Israel live in the country illegally—since Palestinians are barred from applying for refugee status in Israel. This means that they are in constant danger of being deported back to communities where they will be subject to homophobic violence. Israeli security services have been known to exploit this vulnerability, and blackmail Palestinian gays into becoming informants.

Even for Jewish-Israelis, the country is not a queer-loving utopia. Two months ago a trans woman was viciously attacked on the streets of Tel Aviv. A gang of 11 men assaulted her with pepper spray and tasers. Israeli police were quick to dismiss the attack as a ‘prank’ and denied that it was motivated by transmisogyny. Her attackers, it turns out, were off-duty officers in Israel’s Border Police.

It’s not surprising that the same young men who spends weekdays shooting and tear-gassing Palestinians also spend their weekends assaulting trans women. This is the intersection of militarism and homophobia in which Palestinian and Israeli queers exist.

Palestinian queer organisations like al-Qaws, Aswat and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions have called on the global queer community to support their struggle against both Israeli apartheid and queerphobia. That call has been answered around the world, by groups like Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in Canada, No Pride in Israeli Apartheid in the UK, and Black Laundry in Israel.

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It’s out of a desire to support Palestinian queers, and in the tradition of intersectional queer politics, that we decided to take a public stand against the Israeli Embassy’s float at Auckland Pride. We know that some of our fellow queers think that Pride is not the appropriate time or place to make a political statement about Middle East politics. The argument that we shouldn’t mix pride parades with global politics sounds an awful lot like the 1980s argument that anti-apartheid protesters shouldn’t mix rugby with politics. We were not the ones who chose to use Pride as a platform for discussing Israel. The Israeli Embassy are the ones who decided to hijack a gay pride event and exploit to uphold a progressive image of a state that subjects its Indigenous inhabitants to apartheid.

Our queer politics are rooted in the principle of ‘no one left behind’. We do not accept the advancement of gay men at the expense of lesbians, or of cis queers at the expense of trans people. We also cannot accept the advancement of any queers at the expense of Palestinians.

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We recognise the link between colonisation of Palestine, and colonisation of Oceania and Aotearoa. Tagata Pasifika and tangata whenua gender and sexual diversity were violently displaced through the colonisation of this region. We celebrate the first ever Pasefika LGBT Youth float at Pride 2014. The hijacking of Pride to promote apartheid detracts from this celebration of diversity and solidarity.

We urge Auckland Pride—and all LGBT organisations in Aotearoa—to take a stand in solidarity with queer Palestinians and refuse to help Israel pinkwash its human rights abuses. There is no pride in being complicit with Israeli apartheid.

All pictures by John Darroch

Wellington action: Don’t dance with Israeli apartheid

batsheva israeli apartheid wellington

This year’s NZ Festival includes four performances by the Israeli Batsheva dance company.

Batsheva is an integral part of Israel’s Brand Israel public relations campaign. The dance company receives funding from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has described Batsheva as ‘the best known global ambassador of Israeli culture’.

Batsheva’s performance at NZ Festival is sponsored by the Embassy of Israel in New Zealand. One of the embassy’s roles is to enhance Israel’s public image in New Zealand by sponsoring Israeli cultural events such as this one. This is part of a deliberate strategy of using arts and culture to whitewash over Israel’s human rights abuses and violations of international law.

We will be outside Batsheva’s performance to protest Batsheva’s role in whitewashing Israeli apartheid. This is part of the global campaign of BDS (boycott, divestments, and sanctions) initiated by Palestinian civil society.

Organised by BDS Wellington.

7:30pm, Saturday 22nd February, St James Theatre

[Facebook event]

Wellington rally in solidarity with Gaza

12pm, Saturday 24th November
Cuba Mall bucket fountain

Facebook event

43rd anniversary of the PFLP’s founding

 

Tens of thousands of members and  supporters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine gathered on December 11, 2010, in Gaza City’s Palestine Stadium, marking the forty-third anniversary of the PFLP’s founding in a mass rally.

Palestinians from all sectors – men and women, elderly and children, workers and farmers, attended the rally from all sectors of Gaza City, and traveling in groups from throughout the Gaza Strip, waving red flags that filled the stadium.

[Read more...]

Palestinian Organisations added to the New Zealand ‘Terrorist List’

The Spark December 2010 – January 2011

Mike Walker

On the 12th of October 2010 John Key designated “a further seven international terrorist groups under the Terrorism Suppression Act”.  He claimed it helped “implement our international obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373″. Under this pretence the addition of Palestinian organisations, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the military wing of Hamas (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades), to the New Zealand list of designated terrorists, is especially problematic. To highlight the hypocrisy and contradiction involved in these designations I will examine parts of the Terrorist Designations Working Groups (TDWG) paper; “Statement of case to designate the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as a terrorist entity”.

Terrorist Acts

A terrorist act is defined in the ‘Terrorist Suppression Act (TSA)’, section five, as an act which is carried out “for the purpose of advancing an ideological, political, or religious cause” or to “induce terror in a civilian population.” With outcomes such as “the death of, or serious bodily injury to, one or more persons”, “a serious risk to the health or safety of a population” or the “destruction of, or serious damage to, property of great value or importance, or major economic loss, or major environmental damage”.  The case to designate PIJ features two case studies, used to highlight terrorist acts and support the case for designation. [Read more...]

“PFLP Solidarity Campaign interviews Leila Khaled, Palestine’s leading revolutionary woman”

Date: 30/09/2010

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Solidarity Campaign is happy to announce the release of the first part of an interview with Leila Khaled. PFLP Solidarity Campaign co-ordinator Mike Walker conducted the interview via Skype with Leila at her home in Amman, Jordan on the 6th April this year.

Leila Khaled is often referred to as a terrorist by her enemies, the United States and the State of Israel. But in the Occupied Territories, the Gaza Strip and the countless refugee camps scattered throughout the Arab world she is a revolutionary hero, a freedom fighter and the embodiment of the Palestinian militant struggle against Zionism and Imperialism in the Middle East and for freedom and self-determination.

Leila Khaled and the PFLP shot to international attention when Leila became the first woman to hi-jack a commercial airliner on August 29th 1969. Leila made the pilot divert the plane over Haifa, where she was born but has never been allowed to visit, eventually allowing the plane to land in Damascus, Syria. The passengers were disembarked and the plane was blown up in front of the international media. Golda Meir had stated that June that “There was no such thing as Palestinians”, but Leila Khaled and the PFLP had put the Palestinian struggle firmly onto the world stage, where it could no longer be ignored.

Today Leila is a core member of the PFLP and serves on its Politburo, dealing primarily with the ‘right of return’ for Palestinian refugees. Walker stated that “Leila is a true revolutionary woman that has dedicated her life to the struggle of Palestinians for their right to self-determination, and to return home.” “Leila is an inspiration to us all,” he continued.

Leila Khaled finished the interview by stating that she had “a message for the New Zealanders.” She then warned that we should all “beware Zionism. Nazism caused humanity twenty two million casualties and the destruction of Europe. What do you think that Zionism will do, do we need a third world war? We have to stop the expansion of the Zionist ideology and policy.”

The interview is available at http://wpnz-pflp-solidarity.blogspot.com/p/leila-khaled-interview.html

A full transcript or audio is available on request.

PFLP rejects and calls for action against liquidationist return to direct negotiations

The following is a statement from the PFLP on the announcement of new US sponsored negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  It originally appeared at http://www.pflp.ps/english/

Comrade Maher al-Taher, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and leader of its branch outside Palestine, said on August 20, 2010 that the goal of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is to liquidate the Palestinian cause, not to reach a political solution, noting that it is clear from the events and actions of Israel that it is impossible to reach a political solution with an entity that demands total control of all aspects of Palestinian existence. [Read more...]

David Rovics Palestine benefit gig

The Workers Party on Campus in conjunction with the the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Solidarity Campaign presents a Palestine benefit gig, featuring David Rovics and Don Franks.

Its all happening on Friday the 20th of August, Bentley’s Bar, Canterbury University. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with door sales available on the night or pre sales available via Paypal at http://wpnz-pflp-solidarity.blogspot.com/p/david-rovics-don-franks.html

You can check out info about other shows David is doing in New Zealand at http://davidrovicsnz2010.wordpress.com/

David Rovics grew up in a family of classical musicians in Wilton, Connecticut, and became a fan of populist regimes early on. By the early 90s he was a full-time busker in the Boston subways and by the mid-90s he was traveling the world as a professional flat-picking rabble-rouser. These days David lives with his family in Portland, Oregon and tours regularly on four continents, playing for audiences large and small at cafes, pubs, universities, churches, union halls and protest rallies.

He has shared the stage with a veritable of who’s who of the left in two dozen countries, and has had his music featured on Democracy Now!, BBC, Al- Jazeera and other networks. His essays are published regularly on CounterPunch, and the 200+ songs he makes available for free on the web have been downloaded more than a million times.

Most importantly, he’s really good. He will make you laugh, he will make you cry, he will make the revolution irresistible. David provides his songs free of charge from www.davidrovics.com

In Christchurch he will be joined by folk stalwart Don Franks. Addressing issues relevant to people in New Zealand today, Franks builds on the tradition of political folk, adding an air of spontaneity and healthy dose of tounge-in-cheek humor. Listeners will be treated to a selection from Franks’ sizeable repetoire, including hits from his 2009 album ‘Safer Communities Together Blues’. The gig is being held in conjunction with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine SOlidarity Campaign.

David Rovics had the following to say about the PFLP: “The criminalization of the PFLP and other organizations by various governments is sheer hypocrisy. These same governments are signatories to UN conventions that make it clear — the PFLP and the Palestinian people generally are not criminals. They are resisting a criminal occupation — it is the militaristic, apartheid state of Israel which is the criminal here, which needs to be treated as such, not the PFLP.” – David Rovics, singer-songwriter So come along and show your support for the Palestinian struggle against the Zionist state of Israel, and be treated to a night of entertainment by two of the best ‘rabble rousers’ around

Palestine Photo Exibition in Christchurch

Occupation and Resistance

Photos from ‘ActiveStills Photography Collective’ (Israel)

August 15 – 21 Linwood Community Arts Centre, Corner of Stanmore Rd and Worcester St.

Opening Sunday August 15th 5pm-7pm Normal hours 12-4pm weekdays and 12-3pm Sunday.

Free Entry

“End the Siege of Gaza”, but then what?

Mike Walker, PFLP Solidarity Campaign co-coordinator
The Spark July 2010

On the 31st of May commandos from the Israeli Defence Force stormed a boat carrying aid and activists to the besieged Gaza strip, opening fire and killing 9 people on board. In a typical official Israeli response, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon accused the flotilla’s organisers of `having ties to Hamas and al-Qaeda terror organisations’. This has been followed by so-called `universal condemnation’ of the attack by the `International Community’ and calls for an end to the siege. In practical terms this means allowing more goods into the Gaza Strip. What it doesn’t mean is an end to Israeli control of the borders, the airspace, the coastal waters and literally every aspect of Palestinian life. [Read more...]

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