Bekhsoos has been publishing a lot of news around the Queer BDS movement and the different anti-Zionist movements around Pride and other international conferences. So for this issue we found it fit to explain (for lack of a better word) to our readership why we so strongly support BDS and why we stand against Zionism and apartheid alike anywhere and everywhere in the world.
Over the past few weeks, Toronto pride organizers banned “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” (QuAIA) from marching in the Toronto pride parade, Spain cancelled their invitation to Israeli representatives to speak at the parade in fear of anger from pro-Palestinian groups and public embarrassment, and the “US Social Forum” (USSF) invited Israeli organization “Stand with Us” to speak on behalf of the Middle East about struggles facing the LGBTQI community.
While the Spanish action got applauded, major fury accompanied the Toronto Pride and USSF incidents.
This is what you need to know…
1) The land is called Palestine. Lebanon, as well as other Arab countries, do not recognize the state of Israel as anything beyond an occupying entity; 1948 Arabs and holders of Israeli passports are regarded as occupied people and NOT Israeli.
2) Israel is an apartheid state: the Jewish state racially oppresses and dominates Arabs (Jewish Arabs included) and all non-Jewish residents and visitors.
3) Anyone living under the apartheid rule of Israel with an attitude of agreement, indifference, post-Zionism, or anti-occupation toward the state is a collaborator in apartheid. There is no neutrality or ‘lesser evil’ about the situation. After all, being silent about oppression is taking the side of the oppressor.
When we talk about an LGBTQI movement (among other movements) in the Middle East, we exclude the oppressing body, Israel. We do, however, include the queer anti-Israeli organizations based in Israel (Check what Israeli Queers for Palestine said on the matter).
LGBT organizations and individuals in Israel often use the argument that they are oppressed in their own country, that they are tolerant of others, and that they sympathize with Palestinians and Palestinian queers; they come out to the world as peaceful non-political groups. However, by not going against their state and against Israel’s apartheid practices, those groups might as well go on record saying that they support the state of Israel no matter what, that they are Zionists, that they support apartheid, and are actually not that neutral after all.
Organizations such as “Stand with Us,” which supported Israel’s attack of the Freedom Flotilla, can’t speak of the LGBTQI struggle in the Middle East, especially that it supports oppression of Palestinians and Palestinian queers (refer to Don’t Stand With Zionism!).
We can’t talk about Zionism and apartheid without addressing the anti-Semitism argument. One of the major arguments used by Israeli groups (which we also saw in light of the USSF / Stand with Us / Arab Queer debate) is that of anti-Semitism: Arab queers instantly become anti-Semitic when they go against Israeli queers. However, it should be clear to all that we do not stand against these institutions because of their religion. We stand against Zionist and apartheid policies.
We are a people that cannot and will not be apolitical or indifferent to injustice anywhere, let alone on our own land.
Check what these queer anti-Israeli-apartheid movements have done… We are sure you can find many others:
• Bay Area Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid (BACEIA):
• Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!):
• Queers Against Israeli Apartheid:
• Palestinian Queers for BDS:
We leave you with these words from Palestinian Queers for BDS:
“As Palestinian queers, our struggle is not only against social injustice and our rights as a queer minority in the Palestinian society, but rather, our main struggle is one against Israel’s colonization, occupation and apartheid; a system that has oppressed us for the past 63 years. Violations of human rights and international law, suppression of basic rights and civil liberty, and discrimination are deeply rooted in Israel’s policies toward Palestinians, straight and gay alike.”
– Contributed by Shoofs