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Guest Blogger

Palestine: Lillian Faderman Responds to Alex Blaze

Filed By Guest Blogger | October 16, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay rights, Israel, LGBT rights, Lillian Faderman, Palestine

Editors' Note: Lillian Faderman has published eight books on LGBT history and literature. She is the recipient of six Lambda Literary Awards and several LGBT lifetime achievement awards. Lillian is responding to Alex Blaze's post, "Palestinian Gays Are Palestinian Too," critiquing an article Lillian wrote for the Advocate magazine.

In his editorial that is a response to the article Roz Rothstein and I wrote for the Advocate, Alex Blaze suggests that the immediate granting of statehood to Palestine would enhance economic development and israel-pride-flag-gay.jpgthus give the Palestinian gay rights movement "a chance to breathe" - as though national wealth and gay rights were automatically connected. If that were so, Alex, how does one explain the fact that in oil-drenched countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran homosexuals are put to death?

He further suggests that, according to a young Israeli who recently visited him, gay rights in Israel are not far advanced. However, from what we've been able to learn, LGBT people have as many rights and more than even American LGBT people, and they've had them for a long time.

Israel passed a law in 1992 that protects any citizen (Jewish, Christian, or Muslim) from employment discrimination for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Our Israeli brothers and sisters have been able to serve openly in the military since 1993, and since 1997 a same-sex partner is recognized by the Israeli Defense Department as a member of the soldier's family. Lesbian and gay couples have full inheritance rights under Israeli law. In 1994, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples. In 2004, the Court ruled that LGBT couples could qualify for common-law marriage status. In 2005, legislation was passed in Israel recognizing all same-sex marriages that are performed abroad.

In many parts of the Middle East (though obviously not in Israel) if a family wishes to rid itself of the embarrassment of a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender member by "honor killing" there is no legal consequences, including in the area governed by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as in Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. As even the Amnesty International LGBT website shows, there's no Middle Eastern country other than Israel in which lesbian or gay couples can receive spousal benefits, none other than Israel in which lesbians and gays can serve openly in the military, none other than Israel that protects lesbians and gays from discrimination or hate crimes. Although only in Iran and Saudi Arabia are LGBT people put to death, they don't fare very well in most other Middle Eastern countries. In Syria they're thrown in prison for three years. In Egypt, they're prosecuted under lewd conduct laws; they're illegal in Lebanon and Libya, too.

Palestinian LGBT people have no reason to be hopeful if Palestine is granted statehood.

During June and July of 2011, the well-respected polling group Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner Research polled over 1000 Palestinians (656 on the West Bank; 353 in Gaza) on diverse questions, which included attitudes towards homosexuality. They were asked, for example, to agree or disagree with the statement, "Homosexuality is a way of life that should be discouraged by society." Approximately 80% agreed. Then they were asked to agree or disagree with the statement, "Homosexuality should be punished by law." Another overwhelming 80% agreed with that too. How will the granting of statehood change the fate of LGBT Palestinians whose straight fellow-Palestinians not only despise them but want to see them punished?

Alex suggested that Roz and I should come up with a solution to the Palestinian problem. The solution is that Palestine must recognize Israel's right to exist; that it expunge from its charter the commitment to eradicate Israel (see Hamas charter); that it cease to see statehood as merely "phase one" in the total takeover of the land that is Israel (see the Palestinian rhetoric that may be viewed even through googling); that it cease demanding the "right of return" to Israel though most Palestinian families have not lived in Israel for three generations; that Palestinians who are less than 63 years old cease calling themselves "refugees." (Am I a refugee from Latvia because my mother was born there and left under unhappy circumstances?).

The Jewish state is a postage stamp - made up of 8000 square miles, compared to the 5 million square miles occupied by Muslim states in the Middle East. A huge question is why haven't the other Muslim countries, who share a language, religion and ethnicity with the self-described refugees welcome them in and given them citizenship - just as Israel has welcomed in the almost one million Middle Eastern Jews who were hounded out of Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc.?

A solution to the problem of LGBT Palestinians, Alex? Palestine should become a state after recognizing Israel's right to exist and ceasing to talk about the "right of return." Then LGBT Palestinians who are harassed by their fellow Palestinians that believe that homosexuality should be "discouraged by society" and "punished by law" could be given refuge in Israel, as they had been in the past, before Israel had to worry they would do something like mount bus 18 and blow up dozens of innocent women, old people, and children.


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Thanks Lillian. It's nice to have a break from the liberally-biased BS we are so often subjected to when reading this blog. Anything anti-Christain or anti-Jewish is fair, but if it's construed as being the tiniest bit ani-muslim then you're a bigot or a racist. Your rebuttal was absolutely on the mark.

John - you have to admit...your comment is a bit ironic given that her response was posted here... :)

In any case - I really appreciate this posting. I personally favor a bit more compromise than you suggest for solutions (I think Israel will need to show some effort as well...but obviously not while Hamas in power) - but in general I agree with what you're saying. Especially that allowing Palestine to join the UN is not a solution at this time. I think that day must come, but not under the current regime's politics and policies. I also think you brought up excellent points on the realities of how this will impact the LGBT communities.

Alex - you know I love your writing, generally agree with you on issues and have a lot of respect for you...but I think you may want to borrow an idea from Obama and evolve your thinking on this one. :)

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 17, 2011 6:24 PM

"It's nice to have a break from the liberally-biased BS we are so often subjected to when reading this blog. Anything anti-GLBT christer bigot or anti-zionist and racist is fair, but if it's construed as being the tiniest bit Islamophobic and racist you're a bigot or a racist."

There, I fixed it for you.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 17, 2011 6:19 PM

Opposition to zionist ethnic cleansing, apartheid and mass murder to steal land in occupied Palestine is not anti-Semitic. It's anti-colonialist. Unions around the world oppose zionism, call for boycotts, and refuse to unload ships from the zionist colony in Palestine.

Zionism, on the other hand, is violently racist and has been from the beginning.

"There is a country which happens to be called Palestine, a country without people, and, on the other hand, there exists the Jewish people, and it has no country." Chaim Weizmann

Weizmann pretense that there were no Palestinians in Palestine soon disproved by the Palestinians who made it abundantly clear that they didn't want to be colonized. Weizmann soon changed his tune, describing Palestinians as "the rocks of Judea, as obstacles that had to be cleared..." and thought that could be done easily because "The poor ignorant fellah does not worry about politics… The Arab is primitive and believes what he is told."

Ben-Gurion was more explicit in his racist views: "We do not recognize the right of the [Palestinians] Arabs to rule the country, since Palestine is still undeveloped and awaits its builders." In 1928, he dismissed growing anti-zionist sentiments, saying that "the [Palestinian] Arabs have no right to close the country to us…" Even later he admitted that "There is a fundamental conflict. We and they want the same thing: We both want Palestine…"

Since 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been murdered by zionist thugs and their land stolen. They've been mercilessly herded in concentration camps and areas, subjected to repeated ethnic cleansings and denied minimum social services.

The overriding question here is not the zionist colony's ranking in terms of GLBT rights. We are not fully accepted in any country and won't be until the cults are cut down to size by revolutions.

The central question is the fact that the zionist colony in Palestine has no legitimacy. It's a rogue state based on racism (zionism), apartheid, a modern form of slave labor, ethnic cleansing and state terrorism. It policies mimic those of the Nazis. The good news is that, sooner or later the 'Arab Spring', the growing mass mobilization of workers, women, youth and the LGBT communities in nations like Egypt, Iran and Iraq is targeted on abolishing right wing and islamist governments and the zionist colony in Palestine.

@ Bill Perdue You're comments are so riddled with holes (and lies) that I cannot determine whether you are joking or not. Apartheid? Inaccurate. Violently Racist? Against whom? Colonialist? What was the parent nation? Concentration Camps? Denied Social Services? Absurd.
I was hoping to read some compelling dissenting opinions but your vitriol borders on delusion.
Lillian is not saying Israel is perfect but from a LGBTQ perspective, they sure come close!

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 18, 2011 2:06 AM

I am always struck by the fact that when socialists criticize the ugly racism of the Teabagger Republicans, Obama's rotten position on same sex marriage or the bloody history of the zionist colony in Palestine, that instead of providing facts, they call us 'delusional' and liars.

Here are some more facts for Lobell to deny.

apartheid?"South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has accused Israel of practising apartheid in its policies towards the Palestinians. 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". BBC Apr 29, 2002 Honest and decent people don't deny zionist apartheid, they condemn it.

Violently Racist?"The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters (thugs) from the Irgun and Lohamei Herut Israel Zionist paramilitary groups (gangs of mass murderers) attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people. Around 107 villagers were killed during and after the battle for the village, including women and children—some were shot, while others died when hand grenades were thrown into their homes." The attack on Deir Yassin, reminiscent of Nazi attacks on French and Czech towns, was led by future leaders of the zionist colony like Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir and other thugs. Perhaps that, and hundreds of similar events since may not quality as violent to you but they do to honest and decent observers.

They were violent racist attacks because zionism, based on the idea that mainly European colonists can invade, colonize and murder Palestinians and loot their land is racist to its core.

Denied Social Services NPR September 19, 2007 Israel's Security Cabinet has declared the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity" as a first step toward cutting off power and fuel supplies to the coastal strip..."

Concentration Camps? Gaza and much the West Bank are concentration camps, ringed by walls and murderous guards. Honest and decent people despise that as much as we despised the South African apartheid camps.

The zionist colonial administration permits the existence of anti-GLBT sects and cults that regularly incite and commit violence, including the murders at the GLBT center in Jaffa. That may sound close to perfect to but to honest and decent people it reminds us of New York, Kingstown, London and Kampala. In other words, not very good at all.

Bill- If you are going to cut and paste content from the internet, please do your research thoroughly. For starters, Tutu never said Israel is practicing apartheid or is an apartheid system equivalent to South Africa. He referred to (and criticized) a bunch of what he deemed "apartheid-STYLE" policies. That is still merely his opinion.

As for your cut and paste job of an example of "violently racist" examples. The jury is still out on what really happened at Deir Yassin. If this massacre occurred to the degree that you imply, you have no way to know the reasoning behind it (as racist). Was it an act of war, was it blood lust, was it a reprisal, was it even terrorism...did it happen? You cannot assume it was based on race. From what I gather, you believe Muslim Arabs are a race which I find suspect and interesting. As for "hundreds of similar events" to Deir Yassin...really? Name them! As for your comment that "they were violent racist attacks because zionism, based on the idea that mainly European colonists can invade, colonize and murder Palestinians and loot their land is racist to its core" is so devoid of research and merit (and riddled with emotional bias), I will dismiss it.
Quick lesson: European Colonialism was often racist, elitist and abusive...I agree wholeheartedly. Once again, if Israel is a colony, I ask you which European nation are you referring to..is it a Dutch Colony, A French Colony? Help me out here!

Denied Social Services- HMMM? I'm pretty sure the head of the International Red Cross based in Gaza recently resigned publicly stating "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza". Even your example (shoddy research I might add)quotes: "Israel's Security Cabinet has declared the Gaza Strip an 'enemy entity' as a first step toward cutting off power and fuel supplies to the coastal strip..." What does this have to do with Social Services? Please look up the definition before you reply.

Ok I see I'm trying to argue with a blogger "activist." I'm sorry I confused you for a journalist. You are entitled to your opinion and beliefs but don't offer them as facts. Where did you go to school by the way? Your professors would be appalled.

Om Kalthoum | October 18, 2011 2:48 PM

Be thankful for small blessings. When Bill posts on another blog under a different name, he always blames Bill or Hillary Clinton for whatever calamity is being discussed. I find their relative absence from his comments here to be refreshing.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 18, 2011 6:48 PM

I post using my name on every blog but Pam's. When I began posting there I was nearly blind from diabetic retinopathy and diabetic induced cataracts, i.e., blind as a bat. Everybody at Pam's but you seems to be aware of that. By the way are you really the famous Egyptian vocalist featured in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FusV28xVr4

I was first introduced to the work of the real Om Kalthoum by a Syrian boyfriend studying in LA in the early 80s. He was batshit crazy for her songs and I was batshit crazy for him.

You may adore Hillary and Bill Clinton for their pro-war, anti-GLBT, anti union stances but most don't.

This discussion is about whether or not the minor advances of LGBT folks in the zionist colony justifies the mass murder of Palestinians. Submit a guest column on why sitting on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart, or murdering half a million Iraqi children, or signing NAFTA, DADT, DOMA and deregulation are good things and then I'll be happy to focus on the Clintons and eviscerate your delusions about them just as I've repeatedly done at Pam's.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | October 18, 2011 6:16 PM

Apartheid - Tutu is something of an expert on apartheid and when he saw it he was disgusted by it. I understand that it's something you approve of but unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers in the US, England, the RSA, Australia, Sweden and other nations join him in condemning zionist apartheid and racism, sometimes with statements, sometimes by joining anti-racist demonstrations and sometimes by refusing to offload ships from the zionist colony.

Deir Yassin Every stolen Palestinian village and every business or farm stolen by zionists has been stolen by violence by racist, zionist thugs. A look at this map shows the history and the extent of the violence and theft: http://www.thecornerreport.com/media/blogs/links/settlementsmap1.jpg

Your attempt to pretend that the zionist thugs who destroyed Deir Yassin don't closely resemble the SS thugs who destroyed Lidice in Czech territory and Oradour-sur-Glane in France won't stand the light of history. The only difference is that one group was anti-Semetic and the other group Islamophobic. And please, spare us the idiocy of claiming that are not a 'race' and that zionists are not racists. Go to my first comment and you'll see that the founders of zionism and the zionist colony - Weizmann and Ben-Gurion were racist pigs.

Colonialism the zionist colony in Palestine is a zionist colony, not French, not American (as in Iraq) and not Dutch. It's zionist. Really, Lobell, learn to read. RIF.

Denial of Social Services "The Human Rights Council (of the United Nations) today demanded that (the zionist colonial administration) lift immediately the siege it had imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip, restore continued supply of fuel, food and medicine and reopen the border crossings.

In a resolution adopted by a roll-call vote of 30 in favour, one against and 15 abstentions, the sixth Special Session of the Council called for urgent international action to put an immediate end to the grave violations committed by (the zionist colonial administration) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the series of incessant and repeated Israeli military attacks and incursions therein and the siege of the occupied Gaza Strip.

The Council also expressed grave concern at the repeated (zionist colonial) military attacks carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, which resulted in loss of lives and injuries among Palestinian civilians, including women and children." Take it up with the UN and the millions and millions of decent, honest, non-racist people around the world who support a boycott of the zionist colonial administration because of its racist violence against Palestinians.

Race There are no races. Humankind is limited to one, and only one, species.
The concept of race is unscientific and racist. I hope that clears that up for you.

Finally, I hope you don’t' think anyone believes the lies of those who champion zionist apartheid, brutality, ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

Those lies won't slow down the historic shift towards the liberation and reunification of Palestine by even a second. Your efforts are futile and silly. You've already lost.

Anytime someone pulls out the word "Zionist" you know you're in for a whole lotta crap.

One solution that I favor and that has not been explored enough -- because it is opposed by conservatives on both sides -- is the one state solution.

Lillian, you bring up a strong argument about homophobia in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The survey is disturbing. And Israel while not perfect does seem to have a more functioning democracy and a better court system than other countries in the middle east.

The problem is equality. Palestinians -- both those inside Israel who have Israelis citizenship and those in occupation in the West Bank --- are treated as second class citizens. The Palestinians who are Israeli citizens can't join the army and get the social and economic benefits of that. The Palestinians in the West Bank can't vote in Israeli elections. And the Palestinians in Gaza are ruled by Hamas fundamentalists.

Open it up. Let everyone become a citizen of Israel with equal rights. Give everyone the right to vote. Let Abbas run against Netanyahu to be be elected prime minister of Israel. And it's also time for a separation of church and state. Israel can be a state for all its citizens, not just people of the Jewish faith. No more Jewish states, Islamic republics or Christian nations. Equal rights for all, regardless of your race, religion --- and add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list.

Vivian your ideas are wonderful. Unfortunately, go to any islamic republic and see how keen they are on becoming open to other religions.

I'm not even going to try to defend the governments of Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Finger pointing on both sides is a problem. Saudi Arabia and Iranian officials can point to Israeli occupation of the West Bank as the source of all problems in the middle east, which it is not. On the other side, Israeli officials can say "why are you picking on us when other countries in the middle east are far worse?" It's a way of avoiding responsibility for cleaning up your own house.