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March 6, 2019 7:36 am

Pinkwashing or Brainwashing Eurovision in Israel?

avatar by Pesach Benson

Opinion

Revelers take part in a gay pride parade in Tel Aviv, Israel June 8, 2018. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Anything good that Israel does is claimed to be just an insidious way to distract the world from the “occupation” of Palestine.

Planting trees to make the desert bloom? That’s what critics call greenwashing the occupation. Israeli humanitarian aid to disaster zones abroad is bluewashing. Israeli ties with indigenous North American peoples is redwashing, while ties with African-Americans is blackwashing.

When it comes to Israel, everything is a purely perfidious plot against the Palestinians. Period.

Which brings us to one more example of Palestinian activists wrecking the color wheel. The Independent gave an op-ed soapbox to Haneen Maikey and Hilary Aked to take Israel to task for “pinkwashing” — which is exploiting the Jewish state’s LGBTQ+ rights to distract everyone from “its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.” Aked is a third-rate academic writing a book on the Israeli lobby for a company that publishes anything disgusting about Israel.

In the article, the authors myopically argue:

It could not be clearer that nothing is apolitical where Israel is concerned. That’s why the idea that holding Eurovision in Israel is “just a bit of fun” is so misguided.

Translation: Israel’s acceptance of gays means absolutely nothing as long as the Mideast conflict — which is not a LGBTQ+ issue — remains unresolved.

Palestinians have a reputation for homophobia in the West Bank and in Gaza, but rather than have an honest conversation about it, Maikey and Aked blame Israel.

They go on to argue that Israel’s respect for LGBTQ+ rights is harmful for the Palestinian LGBTQ+ community!

In fact, we can say from personal experience that pinkwashing has deeply harmful impacts, not least on Palestinian queers. The narrative that Israel welcomes LGBT+ self-expression while in the rest of the Middle East queers face relentless persecution, constructs a false opposition.

It is not merely propaganda which makes Zionism more appealing to queer groups, sometimes even eliciting direct support for Israel’s apartheid regime. It is also a form of violence against Palestinian queers, rendering all of the progressive forces inside Palestine invisible, including erasing the queer Palestinian movement’s achievements.

This narrative encourages LGBT+ Palestinians to believe that their families, society and friends will always reject them and there is no hope of challenging homophobia — something which also exists in Israel, despite efforts to hide it.

Above all, Israel’s pinkwashing is a cynical attempt to normalise its entrenched apartheid regime which discriminates against, dispossesses and subordinates all Palestinians, queers and non-queers alike.

Maikey, Aked, and The Independent demonize Israel, but they do a bigger disservice to the Palestinian LGBTQ+ community with all their talk of pinkwashing.

Still, there’s a word for blaming Israel for intolerance that doesn’t appear in their piece: Brainwashing.

Pesach Benson is HonestReporting’s deputy managing editor. A version of this article was originally published at HonestReporting.

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