Toshio Meronek

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism Protest at LGBT Film Fest

Filed By Toshio Meronek | June 19, 2011 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Politics
Tags: Frameline Film Festival, Israel, Michael Lucas, military, Palestine

QUITprotest.jpgQueers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT) gathered outside San Francisco's Castro Theater yesterday to protest the world's biggest LGBT film fest's acceptance of funds from the Israeli Consulate. The protest targeting Frameline Film Festival was counter-protested nearby by a smaller group of San Francisco's most ardent Israel fans.

The action came a few weeks after America's self-styled gay Zionist number-one, Michael Lucas (a columnist for The Advocate and founder of Lucas Entertainment), helped to orchestrate an "indefinite moratorium" at New York City's LGBT Community Services Center on any groups that "organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Israel's government likes to emphasize that it's relatively liberal on gay issues compared to other countries in the Middle East. Last year, its Ministry of Tourism launched an advertising campaign called Tel Aviv Gay Vibe to promote that city as a "dashing piece of gay heaven" where "at every waking moment...[there is] only one goal - having fun."

It also allows gays to serve openly in its military, to which President Obama hopes to send $3 billion in aid this year. That's the same military that a little over a year ago raided that humanitarian aid flotilla headed for Gaza and killed many of the unarmed activists on board. The Israeli government still hasn't apologized for the tragedy (its press office even sent journalists a bizarre "We Are the World" spoof making fun of the situation).

QUIT argues that Frameline, as a show of support for international human rights, wouldn't likely have accepted money from the government of South Africa during Apartheid. It could have taken the same line here. Maybe next year?

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Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 19, 2011 3:26 PM

QUIT is correct. Events sponsored by a regime that routinely uses apartheid and ethnic cleansing have zero validity.

I hope QUIT coordinates their work with Oakland ILWU dockworkers who held a one day strike, refusing to unload products from the zionist colony in Palestine. Similar actions by unions have been held in the EU and the Republic of South Africa, where people are aware of the effects of apartheid and the mass murder of civilians by colonialists.

Here's a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpKObPFtcBA

"In 1933, after the invasion of China by the Japanese and the Rape of Nanking, in which Japanese systematically raped 80,000 women, dockworkers on the West Coast refused to unload Japanese ships. Likewise when the stories of the holocaust began to become public knowledge in the 1930s, dockworkers would refuse to unload German ships in protest." http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/6286/dockworkers_around_the_world_create_a_worker_blockade_of_israeli_ships/

Unions are the heavy infantry of social change.

Tina (IL) | June 19, 2011 3:51 PM

this is the type of garbage that Bil is now reducing the site to? Gee, let's trash Israel...wait...that is the country that is the most open to LGBT issues in the region...and let us have the "writer" trash Israel. Bil, can't you exercise some judgement over the trash your "contributors" put out here...like maybe don't let them use this for purposes of trashing governments, but perhaps...let's try this on...talk about LGBT issues!!!!

Is there a difference between trashing and criticizing in this case? Either way, critical feedback on a variety of human rights issues to any government has always been a part of this site. And you should know that Bil and the editorial board has always welcomed a wide variety of perspectives here, only removing or not allowing posts in the most egregious cases. This is pretty clearly not one of them.

I've become used to the fact that anything posted regarding Israel or Palestine is going to draw a bunch of irate commenters incredibly upset about something or another. Thanks for stepping up to the bat this time, Tobi.

Tina (IL) | June 20, 2011 9:45 AM

"stepping up to the plate?" I respond with facts to an article written that throws in information without any facts, and I'm the "BAD" person here. No, you need some factual reporting. Maybe take journalism 101?

cis LGBn friendly maybe, but with the exception of Dana International, I don't see anything that protects trans Israelis against discrimination on wikipedia's "LGBT rights in Israel" page.

Irony of ironies though, Iran's stance on transsexuality would do well in the Clarke institute circa 1980:

1. Be transitioning to a straight sexual orientation.

2. Get surgery.

3. We decide who transitions.

Honestly people, if you don't know what the acronym means, don't use it.

Tina (IL) | June 19, 2011 4:32 PM

No, but there is a case for making sure that what you are criticizing is about LGBT issues. Whether the flotilla (not needed, since easily items could have come through the Arab states that SURROUND Israel. This is an attempt, in my view, non LGBT issues into what is allegedly supposed to be an LGBT site...or perhaps I'm mistaken? Perhaps this is a "let's trash Israel site? Or perhaps a promotion of one of the contributors promotion of a for-profit organization that has been linked to brainwashing? No wonder this site doesn't have a success rate...it has lost focus that it should be an LGBT site. Tobi, enlighten me, please, on why that shouldn't be the case?

I could go on about how all LGBTQ folks have intersecting experiences and many other issues fit into our lives and it doesn't make sense to discourage contributors from writing about the things they are interested in. But I don't need to because the fact of the matter is that a very large LGBT organization is being protested by LGBT activists -- that's an LGBT story no matter what the reason for the protest is.

If you don't think that middle eastern politics is an LGBT issue, then take that up with those protesters. And if you have criticisms of their group or can cite how they are linked to brainwashing, I'm sure I'm not the only one here who would be interested in hearing it. Criticism of QUIT would be welcome here, as is criticism of most things, however, it is intellectually lazy to argue that a blogger shouldn't have reported on an issue to begin with. If you're so disinterested, why are you spending time commenting? If you are interested in and knowledgeable about the topic, why aren't you contributing your knowledge?

Tina (IL) | June 19, 2011 9:54 PM

gee, you can call someone names without actually doing so. I did make some points, however you evidently feel free to ignore them. I'm an ass, you are a wonderful person. Does that make you feel better? Good. You are so smart. Does that make you feel better? If you want to ask why a large section of the trans community doesn't interact with the rest of our "friends," I'd ask that you look in the mirror...you are one of the reasons why. As you suggest, I'm not going to waste my time, because you are obviously such a superior intellect...which is why you didn't bother to respond to any of my comments...merely reiterating the same information.

Huh? Wow, that didn't come across how I intended. That'll teach me to spend less than five minutes on a comment. Look, I'm not invested in looking smart or making you feel bad. I guess the tone didn't come across, but I was trying to say that I feel you have a lot of valuable things to contribute to the issues around Israel and Palestine. But I wish you would focus your criticism on QUIT rather than on the blog that reports on them.

Because yes, I am frustrated with how you decided to focus your remarks on sarcastically attacking this site and claiming that this site is a failure due to the diversity of perspectives here -- which is the one aspect I value most about it even when I don't agree with another contributor. And I'm sorry that I lost my patience, but it's unfortunately common for people to tell bloggers what we should or shouldn't write about and I'm tired of that conversation. And it's hard to patiently make sure I'm saying things extra nice when you're attacking something I care about, and now as you are making this personally about me and blaming the problems of the trans community on how you've found me in one of my comparatively rare grumpy and curt moods.

And you might want to know that the reason I didn't respond to your other points is because I don't feel any need to argue against them - I don't want to try and prove Israel is evil, it doesn't feel useful and I don't believe it is. The only points that you were making that I disagreed with were a) that an LGBTQ site should only report on issues that are entirely and exclusively LGBTQ and b) that an LGBT organization being protested by queer activists is not an LGBT issue.

I have to disagree. Journalists are responsible for what they decide to report. Rachel Maddow's gaping trans blind spot (Amanda Simpson for thirty seconds in January of last year being the exception that proves the rule) is something I will tell her about, and invite others to scrutinize, even though she's not a member of congress voting on DADT or ENDA.

(For that discussion go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcdDgPnT8u0 )

Valerie,

You're right, journalists do have to be responsive to criticisms of what gets left out in coverage and what they do with their platform, and to the degree bloggers frame themselves as journalists and build a decent platform, there is room for that criticism.

Still, I think that's a different issue than saying that we shouldn't even talk about subjects unless they are only and exclusively LGBT issues. I mean, is QUIT's protest any less of an LGBT issue than the recent glitterers reported on here? Or the ATT merger? Or Anthony Weiner?

I suppose I'm also thinking of all the times activists are called to focus solely on single identity politics and how that impacts folks like me who face multiple forms of oppression. I've been in feminist groups that don't want to deal with racism because it's not a women's issue, racial justice groups that want to ignore one of their members raping women in the group because it's not a race issue, LGB folks wanting to ignore anything trans related because it's not an LGB issue, and so on. As a trans woman of color I can't separate those experiences, so that kind of attitude suddenly makes me unsafe and unwelcome in any group that refuses to look at more than one identity issue. Perhaps its a sore spot, but I can't hear the insistence not to talk about Israel/Palestine because it's apparently not an LGBT issue without thinking of all those I care about who are LGBTQ and heavily embroiled in the issue, or living in the region, and can't turn off that part of their lives.

I totally support anyone who wants to criticize what is being said on this site, but insisting that the topic shouldn't even be discussed is something I can't support.

I agree with you as well. I was just taking issue with the deflection, that criticism has to all be directed to the originator of an idea one finds odious.

As far as intersectionality goes, an interesting aside: Having read "Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero," I was struck with how similar the struggle for informed consent and otherwise unrestricted abortion was in 1980 to where we are now, right down to the occasional left-wing politician who stood in the way of human rights. And there seems to me, a similarity between the attempts to politically isolate Palestine and the attempts to politically isolate TLBG people in the 70's and early 80's from larger social movements. A one state solution can't happen because, "we'd be overwhelmed." by a large bloc of non-Jewish voters, or because the Israeli's can't have Arabs in their safe spaces.

And it goes on and on... reading history helps.

Tobi, I agree with you that it's wrong to tell bloggers what they should and shouldn't write about. But I see the diversity of perspectives you refer to reflected only in the reader comments and not in the guest blog posts themselves. I read Bilerico every day, and, to my knowledge..and please correct me if I'm wrong...I've never seen a blog post, guest or otherwise, that reflects Israel in a positive or even in a neutral light. I could say the same about any site that considers itself progressive, GLBT or otherwise. If I go to Salon, for example, I can savor the daily Israel-beating meted out by Glenn Greenwald. Excoriation of Israel seems to be de rigueur for bloggers considering themselves progressives. It's extremely frustrating. I do respond to these posts, and my responses are always printed. I can't complain about that. But, just for once, I'd like to find myself not on the defensive when responding to a post on this subject. I consider myself to be a progressive GLBT person. I have my own criticisms of Israeli policy in various areas, but I am sympathetic to Israel overall. On this and many other of my favorite sites, this appears to be a contradiction in terms.

Referring specifically to the post above, I see a series of hoary knee-jerk Israel and Zionist bashing assumptions that are little more than sound-bites, without any attempt at evaluation. In the first paragraph, we see the counter-demonstrators identified as a "group of San Francisco's most ardent Israel fans." Without conducting an extensive survey...and I don't mean that sarcastically..., Mr. Meronek could not possibly know that. What is clear is that they were opposed to QUIT's agenda, which would have been a more accurate and less dismissive way to describe them. In the second paragraph, Mr. Meronek trashes the New York GLBT Center's decision vis-a-vis groups involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict. He does so not through careful analysis of the issues involved, but by dragging in the always hateable Michael Lucas and the liberal use of quotation marks. The fourth paragraph simply assumes Israel's guilt in the Marmara affair, and the last assumes the link between Israel and Apartheid in a thoroughly snarky way, again with no analysis at all.

Overall, I find Mr. Meronek's piece to be snarky, shallow and lazy. The supposed link of Israel to Aparthied is expressed uncritically and with relish. I find it both offensive and tiresome. I want to make it extremely clear that I don't object to the blog's presence here or to Mr. Maronek's right to express these opinions. I would just like to see something at variance once in a while.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 20, 2011 12:47 PM

Desmond Tutu knows a thing or two about racist apartheid and it's horrors. :'The Nobel peace laureate said he was "very deeply distressed" by a visit to the Holy Land, adding that "it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa... Archbishop Tutu said he saw "the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about".

"One of the more disturbing developments in the Middle East is a growing consensus among Israelis that it would acceptable to expel—in the words of advocates “transfer”—its Arab citizens to either a yet as unformed Palestinian state or the neighboring countries of Jordan and Egypt."CounterPunch - Conn Hallinan

That and the rampages of mass murder, from Deir Yassin to the latest outrages in Gaza and the West Bank are the definition of ethnic cleansing.

The last stop of the Arab Revolution that began in Tunis and Cairo will be in Jerusalem and Jaffa. The mostly European zionist colonists in Palestine face a stark choice - adjust like the European colonists in the RSA or get kicked out like the French colonists in Algeria after the victory of the National Liberation Front, or the Jabhat at-Ta?r?r al-Wa?an?. They fled to France. Where will the zionists go?

Thank you, Bill Perdue, for being a voice for others.... especially people who desperately need it!

All your points about the article are very valid criticisms, when it comes to diversity of this site as a whole, however, I have to disagree. First of all, diversity isn't measured by a litmus test on one isolated issue. But you're right, I wasn't thinking about the diversity of perspectives on Israel/Palestine. Still, I wouldn't say that our contributors' perspectives are as one sided as you seem to have encountered.

"please correct me if I'm wrong...I've never seen a blog post, guest or otherwise, that reflects Israel in a positive or even in a neutral light."

It's not a daily issue that comes up here, but simply searching the archives for the word "Israel" comes up with a guest post from The Israel Project communications team boasting about Israel being "At the Forefront of Gay Rights." There's a celebratory post of Dana International as arguably the world's most famous trans person representing Israel at Eurovision. There's an article about an Israeli documentary on trans men. A couple of Israeli pro-gay/lesbian advertisements. And one of the most heavily trafficked posts on the site is about the first all Israeli gay porn movie. And I'm sure if I looked beyond the first ten results there would be several more positive or neutral posts.

Actually, no, the criticisms are not valid.

The bit about the "group of San Francisco's most ardent Israel fans." is clearly sarcasm, yes, and this blog is clearly not meant as a form of unbiased journalism. I think it's pretty clear that Toshio was not there to give us a "I was there and I spoke to all sides" piece.

As for the Center's decision on the LGBT, what is inaccurate about that? Every news outlet, including the ones that support the decision, have indicated that this was in brought on entirely by the "hateable Mr. Lucas," and Toshio gives us the quotes to indicate their position, which seems like exactly the kind of thing Eli is asking for. The fact that the quotes don't support what Eli might want to see is not Toshio's problem. As for the bit about the flotilla - are the facts presented here inaccurate? Were there no people killed? And as for the last line, that's the point of the piece and the issue, but Toshio does not even refer to what is going in Israel as apartheid, he's simply pointing out what QUIT has said.

All that being said: If Eli and others want to see a different kind of politics about Israel, they ought to post eye-witness reports about the counter-demonstrations against QUIT, for instance. There is not, to the best of my knowledge, any editorial decision against such. Let's also keep in mind that this is not a journalistic blog, and that several, several LGBT blogs elsewhere are in fact virulently against QUIT and its ilk. One facebook group has gone so far as to name several such groups as "hate groups." To the best of my knowledge, the preponderance of opinion on QUIT in the LGBT blogosphere is against it, and often in terms that make even my hardened toes curl. Eli, I'm assuming you're familiar with those. I assume you also know that opinions on this matter as experssed there are expressed with a great deal more candour and much less finesse.

People should know what their money supports... I think that is important for ALL of us.

You have Kobe Bryant shouting out the word Faggot...then again with the jets guy and David Tyree speaking out against Gay Marriage...and of course you have Tracey Morgan being downright hateful against gays and there are no ramifications. Even the sight of Weiner's Weiner has brought down a Congressman. Are people that afraid of Gays in this day and age? Well Marc Freden, too, has been given pause with the issue.

As a gay man, even he feels the need to apologize for the blatant use of the word "Faggot" in his new book "REALLY!?!" Now Freden using the "F" word should get a tacit pass...much like black people using the "N" word to describe themselves. His harmless use of the word...(And you must read the book to understand) has lead him to a video mea culpa on YouTube "Marc Freden Must Apologize to the Gay Community".

Furthermore, Freden has pledged that if Kobe Bryant can be fined $50,000 then he too should pay a price. A percentage of every book sold as a result of his apology will go to the Trevor Project - a gay hot line for distressed teens looking for a voice of calm and understanding. It is the least he can do. Who will join Freden in this cause?
http://www.really-marcfreden.com/