The anti-Israel activists who recently disrupted a presentation by an Israeli LGBT center at the Chicago "Creating Change" conference are attempting to hijack the LGBT movement to further an agenda of hatred.
The LGBT movement aims to help create a world where people can live freely and with dignity, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identification. The "pinkwashing" accusers--claiming that Israel's gay rights record is merely a smokescreen to hide its supposedly evil deeds-- turn this mission on its head by relentlessly vilifying a country that is at the forefront of LGBT rights, especially in the Middle East.
LGBT people thrive in Israel, where employment discrimination based on sexual orientation has long been banned, openly gay and lesbian soldiers have served in the military for decades, and transsexual Dana International represented Israel at Eurovision in 1998 (and won).
At the same time, to be openly gay elsewhere in the Middle East means discrimination, harassment, assault, jail, and death. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that a scant one percent of Palestinian respondents believe that homosexuality is "morally acceptable." The Palestinian Authority has no laws to protect LGBT people. In Gaza, Hamas punishes homosexual behavior with up to ten years in prison. Gay men are lashed in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, tortured in Egypt, buried alive in Afghanistan, hanged in Iran.
Yet some anti-Israel, supposedly pro-LGBT protesters have not a word of criticism to say about the horrific treatment of gay people (or other human rights violations) by Arab and Muslim governments. Why not?
The sad and scary answer is that some are actually not interested in LGBT rights or issues. Their sole aim is to first delegitimize and then destroy the Jewish State. To this end, they cynically work to smear every action by Israel, including its stellar LGBT rights agenda, with sinister motivations.
Seemingly inspired by Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels' statement, "if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it", the "pinkwashing" claimants repeatedly attack Israel as a "racist," "apartheid" nation. But the facts are otherwise. And while history is the past, we cannot ignore it if we are to understand how the "pinkwashing" accusers distort the present.
Yes, Israel was founded by United Nations resolution in 1948 as a refuge state for the Jewish people in their ancient homeland, after 2000 years of homelessness and persecution following the destruction of their country and consequent exile in 70 C.E.
And, yes: Israel's Declaration of Independence states that the country "will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex" and that "it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture."
Arabs who reside in Israel (not those residing in the West Bank, which passed from Jordanian to Israeli control in 1967 following an unsuccessful attempt by Israel's neighbors to destroy the Jewish State) are citizens, have the right to vote, are members of the Israeli Parliament, and even serve on Israel's Supreme Court. For obvious reasons, Arab citizens are not required to serve in the Israeli Army.
So much for Israel being an apartheid or racist state.
All of this is in contrast to the situation in neighboring Arab and Muslim countries, where Jews face legal restrictions, are often forbidden to be citizens, and may not even be permitted to reside: Hundreds of thousands were expelled from these lands, where Jews had lived since ancient times, following the establishment of Israel. To again reference a Nazi phrase, many of these countries have essentially been made "Judenrein", free of Jews, just as the Nazis sought to accomplish in Europe.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority children's "educational" television features poems stating that Jews are "monkeys and pigs," and Palestinian schools teach children that Jews and Israelis possess inherently evil character traits.
And the Chicago protesters condemn Israel.
The "pinkwashing" claimants deny any anti-Semitic motivations. Yet they attack only the Jewish state, while ignoring other countries' actual behaviors that are similar to the alleged crimes of which they accuse Israel.
They do not speak out for the oppressed Christians of the Arab world; on behalf of Tibet; or against the expulsion of 12 million Germans from Eastern European countries after World War II.
Nor do American protesters who tar Israel as a "colonialist" enterprise, mocking and dismissing the ancient roots of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, turn their wrath on themselves for actually being part of a nation of settlers who committed genocide against the Native Americans.
No, they only condemn the Jews.
There's a word for people who target a specific group for a nonstop barrage of invective, calumny, and hatred, and who seek to silence those they assault: bullies.
And bullying has no place in the LGBT community.