I am a queer Muslim woman. I have experienced discrimination, hatred, and violence, simply for being who I am. I would never wish that upon anyone.
But apparently, some queer Muslims and Arabs haven’t got the message that discrimination is wrong.
The Queer Arabs of Halifax (QAH) is planning a motion Wednesday to ban Israeli pride displays and symbols from Halifax Pride, with emphasis on the Size Doesn’t Matter campaign by the Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
Size Doesn’t Matter (SDM) showcases queer Israeli achievements and provides information about tourism. According to QAH, this is unforgivable “pinkwashing.”
I have written about pinkwashing before:
“What is pinkwashing? Essentially, it’s the idea that Israel’s only identity is defined by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s the idea that speaking about gay rights in Israel, the struggles and the successes, is simply a distraction from the conflict. It’s the idea that Israel markets the achievements of the Israeli gay rights movement in order to make Israel attractive to the West. The accusation of “pinkwashing” is a common tactic used by the anti-Israel movement to silence gay Israelis, negate their struggles, spit on their successes, and turn LGBT people against the only state in the Middle East where they would not be treated as criminals. An anti-pinkwashing protest shut down an American-Israeli panel/Shabbat service at the National LGBT Task Force’s Creating Change Conference in Chicago this past January.”
SDM has no connection to the Israeli government and gets no funding from Israel. The mission of SDM is to connect millennial Jews to Jewish peoplehood in Israel and promote an inclusive global Jewish community.
But those who want to ban SDM and Israeli symbols don’t care about these facts. The accusation of “pinkwashing” is part of an ongoing campaign to slander Israelis.
There is an orchestrated attack on the Israeli community by Arabs and Muslims worldwide, painting Israelis and sometimes Jews in general as subhuman, murderous monsters hell-bent on oppressing Palestinians.
Why? Supposedly in solidarity with “Palestine,” against the “occupation” of Palestinian land and the “apartheid” against Arabs in Israel (despite the fact that the millions of Israeli Arabs have the same exact rights as non-Arab Israelis, which is counter to the very definition of apartheid). In reality, this “solidarity” is just tired anti-Semitism.
Don’t believe me? I’ll play your little game.
I propose we ban Turkish pride displays from Halifax Pride, on account of Turkey’s ongoing occupation of Northern Cyprus.
What’s that? You didn’t even know there was a Turkish occupation? Well, of course. We Muslims don’t care about the plight of the Christians of Cyprus, because the Turks are Muslims, not Jews.
I propose we ban Pakistani pride displays from Halifax Pride, on account of the terrible apartheid oppressing Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, where Ahmadis can’t read the Quran or say the Shahada without being thrown in jail.
What’s that? You don’t even believe Ahmadis are Muslims? Does that make their oppression any less awful or wrong?
I propose we ban any and all displays of Arab and Muslim pride in Halifax Pride, including Palestinian symbols, on account of the oppression, violence, discrimination, and outright murder targeting LGBT people in many Muslim and Arab countries and territories, not to mention the abysmal general human rights records of many Arab and Muslim countries.
What’s that? You can’t hold an entire group accountable for the actions of their governments? Bingo.
To ban queer Israelis (and Jews – because for many Jews, Israel is a part of their identity that cannot be separated) from displaying their pride and from promoting their successes is discrimination based on nationality and religion. It is below us as queer Muslims and as human beings to demand equal treatment and then turn around and tell people it’s wrong to be proud of who they are and of their successes.
Newsflash: Israelis are people, too. Israelis deserve the same rights as we do and that includes speaking positively about their homeland, showcasing their achievements to the world and waving their flags.
We cannot demand equality with asterisks. We cannot claim to fight against discrimination while calling for discrimination against others. If you really want to “create a festival that is inclusive to everyone,” as you claim in your resolution, that includes Israelis and Jews.
Believe whatever you want. By all means, go ahead and wave your Palestinian flags in the Pride March. Promote your cause, because even though many disagree with your stance on Israel, you have the right to try and “sway public sentiment,” in the words of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project.
But don’t you dare try and take that right away from queer Jews and Israelis. Don’t you dare force them to hide their pride.