The last couple of years have seen progressive LGBT people taking on issues other than equality, as well as bringing the debate into the community. Israel and the Palestinian cause has been a flashpoint. With Equality Forum in Philadelphia poised to honor Israel this May, several progressive blogs have denounced the organization and suggested the honor be withdrawn. Their argument is easy to appreciate: Israel's oppression of the Palestinians and Palestinian state. Those progressives might have a point, but that point is misleading and downright anti-equality.
Full disclosure: I'm Jewish, but also have been a member of "Peace Now," an organization that has often been at odds with the Israeli government. I've traveled throughout the Middle East, and was one of the first LGBT reporters to do a series on LGBT people living in Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. For those national readers, those here in Philadelphia will tell you I have no appreciation of Equality Forum's executive director. Several years ago, he mass-emailed an obscene, graphic depiction of me that crossed the line of decency. We will never have a relationship. In conclusion, I'm not a diehard who blindly supports Israel or Equality Forum. With that stated, I think I'm in a good place to examine this issue fairly.
Here's the fine print. Progressives are right. Israel keeps the Palestinians under total control, using roadblocks, settlements and blockades. All true. But at the same time, the Palestinians refuse to recognize the state of Israel and house organizations in the "Palestinian state" that have an agenda to wipe Israel off the map. I believe it's fair to say that Israel has the right to protect itself against people who are at war with it. But for the LGBT community, that should not be the issue. Here's what it should be.