‘Pinkwashing?’ – Forget About Israel
by Vanessa Bressler
How does one translate “pinkwashing?” After I read a New York Times Op-Ed on November 22nd 2011, I understand it as something between using advances in gay rights as a smokescreen, a marketing tool and taking the gay community for a ride, and that it is one of Israel’s latest sins. Because granting rights to homosexuals is part of “a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Because Israel is marketing itself as a place for gays and lesbians to vacation and because LGBT people ‘mistakenly judge how advanced a country is by how it responds to homosexuality.'”
What was the reaction to the piece from Israel defenders? defense with a little offense. Defense? Israel is a country where LGBT people have rights (among them: common-law marriage, right to adopt, recognition of foreign same-sex marriages) and are protected against discrimination. For good measure, let’s add that this applies to all LGBT people, regardless of religion. Offense? You can’t be gay anywhere else in the Middle East; Israel is the only democracy in the region; blah, blah, blah.
Forget about Israel! Who cares? Read the Op-Ed again. I did – but I replaced Israel with “What-ever-land“ and references to LGBT people with “women.“ The piece did not only scare me – it also peeved and insulted me and made me feel more like a minority than I usually do (which is not at all). The Op-Ed informed me that I am a thief, an oppressor and a tool – all in one package.
Shame on me for having rights when other women don’t: for having rights when other minorities don’t. Should it not be, “Shame on the places that brutally rob women of their rights?” No, I ought to be ashamed that I vote, work and am not sold or mutilated. I should apologize to all you mothers out there who fight for your daughters’ rights to an education, all you women who stand up and risk it all, including your lives. But I also feel compelled to warn you that should you ever prevail, you will be an “oppressor.” You’re a thief for having rights others don’t have and an oppressor because not all have those rights. You’ll be persecuting not only other women but other minorities, as well.
Seriously, none of those rights are the results of societal response to change, facing old demons, or the usual evolving. No, positive developments are part of some Machiavellian plot, a smoke screen, and I, the weak minority, am too clueless to see through it – or may be willing to participate because of my victim mentality. Whichever way you look at it, I am being used. I have no identity but that of my minority. And as such I should side with other minorities – I should have no thoughts of my own, no likes or dislikes. So let’s add a “nothing” to the list – I am a thief, an oppressor, a tool, and a nothing.
Now, while this Op-Ed was a result of a compulsion to bash Israel, the response it seems to have engendered is an equally pathological need to defend Israel. Can’t we just say that it was irrational, (even crazy) to any sane person, and a slap in the face to anyone who has ever fought for human rights?