There were some protesters at the Creating Change conference who think a disgusting display of anti-Semitism, which is defined as (prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as an ethnic, religious, or racial group) is acceptable. It never was and isn't today.
The protest at the Creating Change conference against the reception and presentation organized by A Wider Bridge will forever be a black eye on the Task Force.
The mission of the Task Force is clearly stated on their website; "We're building a future where everyone is free to be themselves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we've made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That's why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you."
While I have spoken out against the unjust actions of the Netanyahu government there is also no excuse for the actions of those who vow the destruction of Israel. If the Task Force becomes a place where there can no longer be more than one point of view presented peacefully and we pit our own community against each other for racial, ethnic or religion reasons, it will go out of business as a viable organization because it will not be able to accomplish its mission.
Gay and Lesbian people may be on all sides of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians. We have been on all sides of every political issue because we are thinking people with widely differing views. But the role of the Task Force has to be to work towards the goal, through the open and peaceful exchange of ideas, here in the United States and around the world, that will result in all members of the LGBTQ community no matter in which country they reside to have the freedom to exist and live their lives to their fullest potential. When that happens it will help all people have freer lives.
The individuals who came from Israel to attend the Creating Change conference were there to discuss what was happening in the LGBT community in Israel. If some wanted to debate their view of that the way to do it was to peacefully attend the reception and discuss the issues in a rational way. Or they could have worked with the Task Force to set up another panel. What the protesters did was shut down all debate and reasonable exchange with some calling for the destruction of Israel which in the context of the meeting made no sense at all.
In my opinion the concept of what some are calling 'pinkwashing' is absurd. I have never excused the excesses of the Israeli governments' actions against some of its Palestinian residents because they happen to be the only nation in the region to give rights to their LGBT citizens. One has nothing to do with the other. In fact those who have their full rights can work harder for those who don't. How does not talking about the rights given to the LGBT community in Israel help those living in states that totally discriminate against the community? That is totally irrational.
I write as a first generation American whose mother escaped the Nazi's in Austria and father escaped them in Germany. They came to America for freedom meeting in New York. My father's parents weren't so lucky and were gassed in Auschwitz. He joined the American army and went back to Europe to fight and was awarded a bronze star. They spent their lives fighting for equality and brought up my sister and myself to do the same. That is why it is so unacceptable to see those who would display anti-Semitism in their fight for other's rights. Let us never forget gays were rounded up and marched with Jews to the gas chambers.
It is only if we continue to have an open dialogue and stand together that we will succeed in ensuring that in America and around the world; Black Lives Matter, women have full equality, recognize that Muslims are not all responsible for jihadist terrorists, LGBT people have their full rights and those who believe Israelis and Palestinians must have a chance to live in peace will be able to accomplish those goals.
This column first appeared in the Washington Blade.