Alex Blaze

Palestinian Gays Are Palestinian Too

Filed By Alex Blaze | October 12, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Gaza, homophobic behavior, israel, left, Middle East, palestine, right, The Advocate, West Bank

Continuing to promote its weird anti-Palestine stance, The Advocate has a largely fact-free op-ed by Lillian Faderman and Roz Rothstein up Israeli-apartheid.jpgabout how a Palestinian statehood shouldn't happen because a Palestinian state would be homophobic.

More homophobic than the current Palestinian land? Would development of those territories into an autonomous nation-state mean that homophobia would worsen there? The authors never deign to address those points and advance, instead, an argument that reads like biological determinism.

It's like they have a flow chart:

Step 1: Palestinian statehood
Step 2: ????
Step 3: More homophobia

I'm guessing they want us to fill in that ???? with "Palestinians have homophobia in their blood and letting them do what they want will only spell disaster for gay people."

Israel sure as heck isn't doing anything about homophobia in the Palestinian territories right now. Wouldn't getting them out of the way at least take away one impediment to work on ending homophobia? Or: since Israel is dead-set against economic development in Gaza, and gay rights are better protected in wealthier nations, wouldn't taking away one of the biggest obstacles to development at least give a gay rights movement a chance to breathe? Or: isn't an occupation of a people that we know includes lots of queers inherently keep freedom out of reach of some gay people?

Continuing the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, which has done nothing to end homophobia, doesn't seem like the best strategy to end homophobia. Doing the same thing over and over and hoping for different results, etc.

Unless, of course, Faderman and Rothstein don't give a fig about homophobia in Palestinian territories and are just using that argument to get their column into the LGBT paper of record. If they do, in fact, care about homophobia in Palestinian territories, they should have presented some kind of solution in their Advocate column, but that would involve work and working for free on something like human rights requires someone to care, and so here we are.

Anyway, this all reminds me of a guest Alberto and I had at the apartment a couple months ago, a young, gay Israeli who was looking for ways to live in Europe. He told us he was fed up with living in a theocracy that's pretty much run, as he sees it, by a rabidly homophobic right wing. I asked him about how Israel is always portrayed in the media as being so gay-friendly, and he said that there were definitely some people in some parts who were cool, but for the most part he had to stay closeted and politicians refuse to expand gay rights too quickly for fear of pissing off religious fundamentalists.

If anything, he sounded like my gay friends from the US Midwest or South. His interpretation of the politics made it seem like trusting the Israeli right to occupy territories and make them less homophobic is a pretty silly idea.

Of course, one has to remember that the people who are more likely to be gay-friendly in Israel are also the people who are more likely to disagree with Israel's hard-line against the Palestinian people. Faderman and Rothstein's formulation and the ideas lain out by Michael Lucas every few weeks in The Advocate ask gays to agree with Israel's right wing because they're more gay-friendly than the Muslim right.

Huh? Shouldn't we be siding with the Israeli left if we're going to be siding with anyone based on their gay-friendliness?

Anyway, back to the current Advocate op-ed, published in a magazine that apparently has no editors otherwise they wouldn't let something this dumb slip through:

No society, no matter how oppressed, is entitled to ask for statehood when it denies statehood to its neighbor. No society has a right to ask for legitimacy as a nation while disparaging its neighbor's history and rights as falsehoods.

I respectfully disagree. I believe Israel has a right to statehood.

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I'd like to hear from some lgbtq Palestinians. Do they support a Palestinian state or feel that Palestine doesn't deserve to be a state because of homophobia?

This article from the Advocate reminds me of the attitude that some people had after Prop 8 was passed, blaming its passage on the African American community. It turned out that that was not the case, and that African Americans voted more or less the same as whites, and that the real divide was religion.

I wonder if the belief that the West Bank and Gaza are more homophobic than Israel is also such a myth. Once again, we need to hear from some lgbtq Palestinians to really understand what it is like there and what is needed to promote tolerance and acceptance.

Actually, many gay Palestinians seek asylum in Israel to escape homophobic persecution by Palestinians. The bigotry of Palestinians is so extreme that they drive their own children to flee to Israel. The Israeli respect for human rights is so strong that they protect the children of their enemies.

"Actually, many gay Palestinians seek asylum in Israel to escape homophobic persecution by Palestinians." True, some do, but they have to be really desperate to jump from the frying pan into the fire.

"The bigotry of Palestinians is so extreme that they drive their own children to flee to Israel." This is a lie. The bigotry of islamist, cousins to judaists and christer fundamentalists, causes the persecution of LGBT folks where ever these cultists infest a society.

Conditions are much worse for GLBT people in US occupied Iraq where US armed and trained anti-GLBT militias and police routinely murder torture and murder our brothers and sisters. They're much worse in Iran where the regime of the mad ayatollahs has taken the lives of thousands of LGBT people. And they're in danger of getting much worse in Uganda where Obama BBF and christer bigot Rick Warren and this friends sponsored legislation to enable the mass murder of GLBT people.

Religious bigots and those who pander to them, not an entire nationality, are responsible. Claiming that all Palestinians are murderous bigots is racist.

"The (zionist colonial administrations)" respect for human rights is so strong that they protect the children of their enemies" is another blatant lie.

From the Jewish Forward, By Kathleen Peratis, February 24, 2006

Gay Palestinian men flee to (the administration of zionist occupied Palestine) because they are not safe in the West Bank and Gaza. They also have no place else to go… Because they are so vulnerable to blackmail, it is assumed by the families and neighbors of gay Palestinian men — sometimes correctly — that they have been blackmailed into becoming informers, either for (zionist) intelligence or for opposition Palestinian factions. So when they meet a violent end, the motivation of the killers is not entirely clear.

When gay Palestinian men run for their lives into (the administration of zionist occupied Palestine), they do not seek — and they cannot get — “asylum” … (The administration of zionist occupied Palestine) has never granted asylum to Palestinians, gay or not, says Anat Ben-Dor of the Refugee Rights Clinic … - even those who can credibly claim they will be killed if they are sent back to the West Bank or Gaza. This is because (the administration of zionist occupied Palestine) interprets international asylum law — the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which (the administration of zionist occupied Palestine) has signed — as inapplicable to Palestinian nationals.

No country in the region outside of Israel has gotten better with wealth when it comes to homophobia. Wealth does not make people gentler or more reasonable.

It's besides the point anyways. We let nations in Africa and Europe exist as sovereign territories regardless of their blatant human rights violations.

Most African nations, China, Eastern Europe all have horrible track records on respecting LGBT people.

What the leading nations need to do is politically and diplomatically marginalize transgressors. Officials of offending countries should feel the scorn of representatives of the countries they seek aid and relations from.

Om Kalthoum | October 13, 2011 3:45 PM

Your prospective readers might appreciate a link to the "fact free" online piece under discussion:

Excuse me, but Israel does not control Gaza, the Palestinian Authority controls Gaza; to the point of requesting statehood at the UN. The PA has made it clear that gays are not welcome. So Palestinian gays go to Israel, which has a vibrant gay life (even if not "marriage" as we don't have here either, last I could tell -- and ergo, is Israel responsible for homophobia in the USA too?) Hamas shoots thousands of rockets a year from Gaza, and elsewhere, into Israel -- how does one expect Israel to support gay rights within Gaza while the missiles are flying? Israel is not only NOT "dead set against economic development in Palestine" but when the Israelis left the few places in Gaza they were still in, several years ago, the Palestinians came in and destroyed anything left behind by the Israelis, who left intact buildings, commercial greenhouses and housing. All destroyed, quickly, by Hamas for having been constructed and gifted by the Jews. Furthermore, from the creation of Israel in 1947, Gaza was a part of Egypt, and so, by this logic, is Israel also responsible for the homophobia of Egypt? This article is one of the most absurd I've seen around here. Stop blaming Jews for the behavior of Palestinians (formerly Egyptians,) who would apparently rather blow up a Tel Aviv pizza shop long before they ever listened to the advice of Jews on gay Palestinians. Hell, the PA won't even talk to Israeli farming experts about irrigation. Egad, folks, are you this obtuse?

This article makes a lot of wild assumptions.

First of all, since 1993 when the Oslo accords were signed, the Palestinians have been governing themselves, while the Israeli army has only protected Israel's borders, the Jewish communities in the West Bank, and entered Palestinian territory for counter-terror operations. All local Palestinian issues are governed either by Fatah in the West Bank, or by Hamas in Gaza. Both the Hamas and the PLO Covenants declare that sharia law is the basis of legislation, and that is why homosexuality is banned. It is a death sentence in Gaza where Israel has no control, but the only reason that gays are not being put to death in the West Bank is because of the Israeli Army presence. So indeed, Israel is doing something about LGBT rights in the Palestinian Territories; it is preventing the Fatah led PA from executing it's LGBT citizens.

Second, the anecdote about your Israeli gay friend sounds suspicious. Israel has more gay rights than the United States, including recognizing marriages performed abroad. As for homophobia in Israeli society, of course it exists, just like it exists in every country on Earth. Do you think there is no homophobia in the US, or the UK, or France or Germany? Of course there is. Expecting there to be none in Israel is holding it to a double standard. The fact remains that in Israel there is no anti-LGBT discrimination codified into law, which cannot be said of other democracies like the US, eg. DOMA.

As far as Lillian's quote at the end about not excepting statehood, in fact the UN requires new members to be "peace loving states". If Palestine is committed to it's neighbors destruction, then it certainly isn't "peace-loving".

Frankly, it all comes down to what the Palestinian leaders are saying themselves. Mahmoud Abbas declared at the UN that Palestine would not accept gays or Jews. If you can explain to me how Israel is responsible for the Palestinian president's bigotry, I'm all ears, but if you take a second to look at the facts the holes in your argument are glaring.