This month around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people will be celebrating their love. Parades, mixers, movie screenings, and more will take place in many countries. In some countries, LGBT people will continue to be heavily persecuted, murdered, and forced to face hateful discrimination. Only one country is singled out by protesters, and that country is Israel. It is protested with cries of “pinkwashing,” as if the Israeli LGBT movement is simply a “distraction” from the Israeli-Arab conflict, as if their struggles and victories mean nothing because their country’s politics are complicated.
And in these protests, Jews are always targeted.
But wait, the protesters cry, we’re only protesting Zionism! Some of us are even Jewish! Well, I’ve got news for you. When Israel is protested, Jews are the scapegoats for the protests. The majority of Jewish people have some sort of ties to Israel, in family, in history, in faith. The majority of Jews are Zionists who support the right to exist for the Jewish State. And Jewish people and organizations face intense hatred during these protests.
LGBT Jewish people are particularly targeted. They are constantly accused of “pinkwashing” if they mention Israel at all, as if caring about the LGBT movement in Israel is a bad thing, a way to cover up injustice. Anti-Israel protesters go to great lengths to attack LGBT Jews, in harmful and discriminatory ways.
Take the Celebrate Israel parade in NYC a few weeks ago. A group of LGBT Orthodox Jewish teens were marching to show pride in their identities and their indigenous homeland, Israel. Protesters from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – which is actually anything but – disguised themselves as part of the group. Part way through the march, the JVP people ripped off their Celebrate Israel Shirts to reveal anti-Israel shirts. They disconnected the group’s sound system, and started screaming, “No pride in apartheid!” They even got physical with the teens marching. Understandably, the teens were scared and very troubled by this. All they wanted to do was show pride for their queer and Jewish identities, and JVP spat in their faces. Targeting children is low, but evidently not too low for a group that celebrates convicted terrorists.
This was not an isolated incident. Last week in Toronto, an LGBT Jewish group was holding a Pride Shabbat dinner. It had nothing to do with Israel. They were attacked by anti-Israel protesters just because they were being cosponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, a nonpartisan organization part of the Jewish Federations of Canada. Merely the mention of Israel in the name of an organization is considered a crime worthy of organized attack by these protesters.
These protests are common. A panel/Shabbat dinner at the 2016 Creating Change LGBT conference, hosted by A Wider Bridge, an organization that aims to connect LGBT Americans and Israelis so they can share their stories with each other and work together to fight for LGBT rights in both countries, was shut down by 200 anti-Israel protesters. The protest blocked people from entering the event and one man even had his kippah knocked off his head. At Goucher College in 2015, the Goucher Hillel tried to bring gay filmmaker Assi Azar to talk about homophobia in a Jewish society, and the event was shut down by protesters. There was a vote in Halifax (that thankfully failed) aiming to ban Jewish and Israeli symbols and flags from Pride. One LGBT event at Brown University was even cancelled simply because it was being held by a Jewish group.
Jews always bear the effects of anti-Israel protests. To claim that they are only anti-Zionist, not antisemitic, is demonstrably false. LGBT Jews and Israelis have every right to show their pride and fight for their rights. It is wrong and hypocritical to demand equal treatment and turn around and discriminate against people for their support of their country, their safehaven, their indigenous homeland. You can disagree with politics all you want, but the moment you start to single out the Jewish State with demonization, double standards, and delegitimization, the moment you choose Jews as the target of your hatred, your actions are antisemitic.
And there is no pride in antisemitism.