Once again, Toronto Pride funding is under fire. Once again, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is the excuse being given. This time, though, QuAIA has voluntarily withdrawn from the event, and Mayor Rob Ford still seems poised to withhold funding, at least until after the event. From QuAIA's website:
"Rob Ford wants to use us as an excuse to cut Pride funding, even though he has always opposed funding the parade, long before we showed up," says Elle Flanders of QuAIA. "By holding our Pride events outside of the parade, we are forcing him to make a choice: fund Pride or have your real homophobic, right-wing agenda exposed."
QuAIA then details several instances of homophobia and transphobia not related to QuAIA's participation in Toronto Pride, dating back to 2005.
On Friday, Ford reiterated his vow for post-event funding if any (assuming another excuse is not found to disqualify the event):
"Last year council agreed that if [Queers Against Israel Apartheid does not participate] they will get their money after the parade. And I don't see why we're going to change that agreement," he said.
Federal funding for Toronto Pride has been hit in the past, too. In 2009, the Harper Conservatives arbitrarily withdrew funding that Toronto Pride had legitimately qualified for, from the Marquee Tourism Events Program portion of Canada's economic stimulus package.
Understanding QuAIA and Christian Zionism in Canada
I can't speak for QuAIA, and am not in direct contact with them, so I don't know if my perspectives match the intent of the directors, other than by their own self-declarations:
There is no pride in apartheid, and QuAIA is dedicated to fighting it wherever it exists. We work in solidarity with anti-colonial struggles and with queers leading their own struggles of resistance.
One does not have to be anti-Israel or anti-Semitic, however, to oppose human rights violations visited on Palistinian peoples in Israeli-occupied territories. There can be a clear distinction between the people/faith/nation and the specific actions of the Israeli government - and that's what many miss in this controversy. Opposing military action is not the same as hating a people. If this is QuAIA's perspective, then it's a distinction that is not being made clearly enough by Canadian media and has allowed this controversy to perpetuate year after year.
It hasn't helped either that there is some lack of clarity whether a swastika was sported at QuAIA's participation in the 2009 Pride March and whether or not that had anything to do with QuAIA.
Observers from outside Canada should also be aware of how a growing Christian Zionism among far-right Evangelicals has served to unite Christian Nationalists. Christian Zionism is premised on the notion that Israel has a role to serve in End-Times prophecy and the anticipated War of Armageddon, and therefore Christian Nationalists feel a kinship for - and defense of - Israel, regardless of its military actions. This coalition is central to the Harper Conservatives' political base. Therefore, it has become politically expedient for the federal Conservatives and Christian Nationalists across the country to conflate QuAIA with hatred.
I wouldn't write off the possibility, though, that there could also be some subterfuge in the mix somewhere. Given Canada's spy agency's long history of espionage and subversion among LGBT and social justice groups, as well as taking active roles on both sides of racist and anti-racist activity, anything is possible.
Toward Pride 2011
At any rate, with QuAIA's voluntary withdrawal from the event, people will be watching to see if Toronto Pride does indeed receive funding, or what other excuse will be given.
And what the new demand(s) next year will be.
Toronto is scheduled to host World Pride in 2014.
h/t: Slap Upside The Head