QuAIA is at it again. The virulently anti-Israel gay group is set to march in this year’s Toronto Pride parade and once again it’s pitting gays who oppose Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank against gays who view Israel as a gay-friendly country.
Queers Against Israeli ‘Apartheid’ is wrong on several fronts. Here’s why:
- It's Not Apartheid. Except for right-wing Jewish fundamentalist nutjobs, no one disputes that the West Bank – otherwise known as Palestine – is under Israeli military occupation. It has been since 1967, when Israel beat back attacking Arab armies and won the West Bank from Jordan, which had itself occupied the land (with exactly no protest from anyone for 19 years). So a military occupation exists in the West Bank and no occupation is pretty but that does not make Israel an “Apartheid state.” Certainly not when Arabs who live in Israel proper – the non-occupied part (which Hamas would dispute) – have full and equal rights, vote, are elected to parliament and even sit on the Israeli Supreme Court.
- It's Not Pinkwashing. QuAIA claims that Israel is pinkwashing, in other words, faking and marketing its gay-friendliness to detract from its military occupation of the West Bank. You know the same way Canada pretends to be gay-friendly to pinkwash its Alberta Oil Sands policies. No country’s policies are all good or all bad, but to claim Benjamin Netanyahu is sitting in his office planning Gay Pride parades to get people off his case on Israel’s Palestine policy is loopy.
- It's Not the Right Venue. While I vehemently reject the term ‘Apartheid’ to describe Israel’s occupation, I do support Israel and Israeli settlers withdrawing from the West Bank and, in principle, I support any group that wants to protest that occupation – in an appropriate venue. In other words, Pride exists primarily to celebrate gay rights and support the struggle for those rights all around the world, not to provide a vehicle for protest against an issue completely unrelated to gay rights. What's more, there’s something disturbing when a group like QuAIA uses the platform of gay struggle to attack the only country in the Middle East where gay people can live their lives without fear of being arrested, tortured or killed.