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    Posted on Jun 10, 2015

    What NOT To Say During Israel’s Gay Pride Week

    Let's keep it classy (aka not Homophobic or Anti-Semitic).

    With Tel Aviv’s gay pride week in full swing, the media is heating up about the legendary pride parade set for June 12.

    Ronen Zvulun / Reuters / Via

    In Fady Khoury's recent article in +972 magazine, "Why I won't be participating in Tel Aviv's Pride Parade", he claimed that the Tel Aviv Pride Parade is "problematic" because of its "official institutional sponsorship" and its intent to "blackmail gay Palestinians" into becoming sympathetic to the State of Israel.

    Assuming Khoury would otherwise go to a gay rights parade, it's quite ridiculous that the one he chose to boycott is the Tel Aviv parade, considering there certainly are no such events in the Palestinian territories.

    To save you from looking just as ridiculous in conversation or on social media, here are five things NOT to say, so you don't appear anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, or homophobic when talking about Israel's LGBTQ movement.

    1. "I am boycotting Israel's pride parade because of the human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories."

    This polemic is sadly common; it's basically the mantra of people who wish to "Free Palestine" by wiping Israel (aka the only state of the Jewish people) off the map. Hello, anti-Semitism!

    If you want to talk human rights abuses, let's talk about how LGBTQ Palestinians are fearful for their lives in the Palestinian territories because of their sexual orientations. A Palestinian man who is seeking asylum in Canada recently exclaimed that being openly gay in the Palestinian territories means "certain death".


    Ronen Zvulun / Reuters / Via

    2. "Israel is just 'pinkwashing' their support for the LGBTQ community. It's only meant to gain sympathy for Israel."

    First, the accusation of "pink-washing" (the word people use for Israel's pro-gay agenda in the context of Israel's security agenda) is detrimental to the success of the LGBTQ movement in Israel and as a whole, and it is offensive to the Israeli LGBTQ community.

    Second, the parade is not meant to gain sympathy for anything other than the LGBTQ community. If you think that this is a Jewish scheme to brain wash people or mislead them, then chances are you've been reading a little too much from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    Steve Rhodes

    3. "Aren't Jews against gay people?"

    Far from it. In fact, many Rabbis and Jewish leaders were at the head of the LGBTQ rights movement in the 70s.

    Of course, views vary depending on religious observance, but even the former Chief Rabbi of the UK Jonathan Sacks says that "compassion, sympathy, empathy, and understanding are essential elements of Judaism" and are "what homosexual Jews who care about Judaism need from us today".


    4. "You're just trying to make Israel seem like it's a modern democracy and increase tourism."

    Well, yes! With ten political parties and sixteen Arab members in the current Knesset (Israel's legislative branch), there's no question that Israel is a modern democracy. And what tourist wouldn't want to go to Israel, with its beautiful beaches, diverse people, and unparalleled culture? It's no wonder why LGBTQ Palestinians are "tempted" by Israel's parade like Fady Khoury said!


    5. "Celebrating in your underwear doesn't do anything for gay rights"

    Even according to Fady Khoury himself, "Pride parades, some of which look like massive parties, really are political events meant to increase LGBTQ visibility and fight societal and institutional discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation." As such, Israel, and any country for that matter, should be celebrating when any person feels free enough to express and celebrate their sexual identity in public. Celebrating in countries that enshrine in law LGBTQ rights should incentivize other nations to progress in their values and rights, as international approval increases soft power of the praised nation.

    So what else should you refrain from saying?

    When push comes to shove, don't say that "Jews", "Israel", or "gay people" do a certain thing or feel a certain way because there is no such thing as the action or will of such large groups. It is said that for every two Jews, there are three opinions, and that goes with Israelis and the LGBTQ community as well. If you say something that generalizes any of these groups, you are likely just criticizing that group with bad intentions.

    True, Israel is not perfect and this is not to say that it is wrong to constructively criticize Israel's policies on gay rights or otherwise. But if you support gay rights, support it everywhere, not just the places that are convenient for your prejudices or political agenda.

    Eliana Rudee is a Fellow with the Salomon Center. She is a Core18 Fellow and a graduate of Scripps College, where she studied International Relations and Jewish Studies. She published her thesis in Perceptions and Strategic Concerns of Gender in Terrorism. Follow her @ellierudee.

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