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April 22, 2019 11:39 am

An Open Letter on Israeli ‘Pinkwashing’ and True Discrimination Against the Arab Gay Community

avatar by Daniel O'Dowd


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

The signatories of this letter seek to address an open letter sent to Eurovision’s Irish entrant, Sarah McTernan. The letter, signed by individuals such as David Norris and Ailbhe Smith, asks Ms. McTernan not to aid in Israel’s “pinkwashing” tactics.

The Ireland Israel Alliance is saddened by the bullying that Sarah McTernan continues to receive — this time by “human rights campaigners who have long been involved in LGBTQIA activism in Ireland” — since her announcement as Ireland’s Eurovision entrant. This year’s event will be held in Israel in May.

We believe that in publicly targeting Sarah, and in attempting to pressure her into not participating, the signatories have devalued the battle fought by the gay community, and others in Israel, for recognition of their rights, not to mention the progress made so far and the battles which remain to be fought.

Instead of celebrating Tel Aviv’s annual Pride parade — and acknowledging that it and the annual Pride parade held in Jerusalem are the only annual Pride events in the entirety of the Middle East — the signatories felt compelled to enter an alternative reality and condemn the Tel Aviv parade and the Israeli government’s support of it as “pinkwashing.” Instead of celebrating the courage of those who fought against prejudice and violence to ensure an annual Pride event in Jerusalem, the signatories chose to ignore that too.

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It is difficult to believe that the campaign against Eurovision in Israel is all about the rights of Palestinians, and the achievement of peaceful co-existence with Israel, when its co-founder Omar Barghouti is on record stating: “Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”

Not only does the BDS movement exemplify the attempt by the Palestinian leadership to destroy the peace process and associated joint initiatives, but it simultaneously hurts the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of ordinary Palestinians.

This campaign entirely ignores that Eurovision is an international cultural event that celebrates diversity and equality. It also ignores the fact that the song contest is being held this year in Israel because of votes casts by millions of viewers, which resulted in Israeli Netta Barzilai winning last year’s contest.

The letter’s signatories might better occupy their time by focusing on the discrimination, oppression, and brutality suffered by LGBTQIA persons throughout the Middle East. Perhaps they might apply their political activism to achieve the first ever Palestinian Pride parade in Ramallah or Gaza, and to end Palestinian oppression of gay Palestinians. We would be very interested to see how they fare.

Meanwhile, they should stop bullying a young, talented Irish singer, and attempting to make her a target for the type of public shaming and derision that so many gay people wrongly suffered in Ireland in past decades, and that some still suffer today.

Yours Sincerely,

Jackie Goodall, Director, Ireland Israel Alliance

Alan Shatter, former Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence

Keith Faye, Musician and founding member of Irish Folk Metal Band “Cruachan”

Dr. Mark Humphrys, Assistant Professor, Dublin City University

Rory Cowan, Actor and Comedian of “Mrs Brown’s Boys” fame

Dermot Meleady, Historian

Daniel O’Dowd, CAMERA Fellow, President of Maynooth Students for Israel & Editor of the Conservative Dissent

Teresa Trainor, Co-Founder of Alumni for Campus Freedom Ireland

Sahara Nankan, PHD Scholar Human Rights Law, NUIG

Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh, Writer/Blogger on Israel related issues

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