Wednesday, December 8th | 4 Tevet 5782

November 4, 2021 11:44 am

The Real ‘Pinkwashing’ Is Done by Palestinians

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue


People take part in an annual gay pride parade in Tel Aviv, Israel June 25, 2021. REUTERS/Corinna Kern

British arts and culture magazine Dazed has run a gushing piece about an upcoming movie festival, “Queer Cinema for Palestine” (QCP), which will reportedly celebrate “global queer realities and standing in solidarity with Palestinians.”

The November screenings have been timed to coincide with the Tel Aviv International LGBTQ+ Film Festival, known as TLVFest,.

Organizers of the QCP have accused the Israeli festival of “pinkwashing.”

As HonestReporting highlighted last week, attempts to encourage a boycott of the Israeli event prompted the release of a letter signed by more than 200 Hollywood celebrities denouncing the BDS-led campaign.

“Pinkwashing” is a frequent charge that accuses the Jewish state of exploiting its progressive stance on LGBTQ+ rights to divert attention from what Dazed describes as the “violent occupation of Palestine.”

The Dazed article states:

Hosting both online and in-person events across five continents, the [Queer Cinema for Palestine, or QPC,] film festival will also provide a platform for filmmakers who previously pulled their films from the TLVFest lineup, in opposition to its partnership with Israeli institutions and acceptance of state funding. One special programme, in particular, will honour eight Brazilian filmmakers who withdrew their short films in 2020.

Except for rather unhelpfully telling readers that the QCP event will be held “across five continents,” the article is strikingly scant on details about the specific locations.

However, a visit to the festival website informs us that QCP will host viewings in at least 13 cities, including Seoul, Bilbao, Tunis, Beirut, Belfast, Prishtina, Paris, Montreal, Turin, Sofia, and London, Ontario.

And what do all these places have in common?

Not one of them is located in “Palestine.”

Dazed has, unsurprisingly, neglected to mention why these events are unlikely to be held in territories that the Palestinians claim as part of a future state.

Here are the facts that Dazed would prefer to ignore.

According to global LGBTQ+ rights organization Human Dignity Trust:

Section 152(2) of the British Mandate Criminal Code Ordinance 1936, which is still in force in Gaza, criminalises carnal knowledge “against the order of nature” with a penalty of up to ten years imprisonment.

While homosexual relationships are not criminalized in Palestinian Authority (PA)-administered areas in the West Bank, Human Dignity Trust notes that there have been numerous allegations of gay people being harassed, abused, and detained by PA security officers.

For example, activists in the West Bank from Palestinian LGBTQ+ rights group Al-Qaws in 2019 were threatened with arrest by PA police officers, who warned them against holding any local activities on the grounds that they are against the “values of Palestinian society.”

Notably, Al-Qaws accuses Israel of advertising itself as a gay-friendly vacation spot to “hide the reality that tourist partygoers are dancing atop the ruins of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages.” This, despite the organization maintaining two offices in the Jewish state — one in Haifa and another in the eastern part of Jerusalem.

These places are, incidentally, safely out of reach of the Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, a scan of news stories pertaining to the issue of LGBTQ+ rights in Palestinian-claimed territories also paints a very perilous picture for those who live “against the order of nature” there.

Israeli publication Haaretz, for example, ran an English-language piece in 2019 titled, “Pride and Prejudice: The Hellish Life of Gaza’s LGBTQ Community,” that includes the following passages:

At risk of harassment, torture or worse from Hamas or members of their own families, queer Gazans often hide away in fear. … But everyone is afraid of everyone. Some have been punished, some have been killed. Others killed themselves. …

Life can be even more challenging for lesbians in the Gaza Strip. In Gaza’s conservative society, women are often not allowed to leave their homes unaccompanied, impairing their ability to form same-sex relationships.

Unfortunately, in its glowing advertisement of QCP, Dazed failed to reference any of these brutal, but undeniably salient, facts about the treatment of Palestinian homosexuals.

The Dazed article continues:

According to an announcement posted by Queer Cinema for Palestine, the festival came together in May 2021, amid worldwide protests against the Israeli government’s bombardment of Gaza and ongoing oppression of Palestinians.

The piece’s author does not bother to mention that the supposed “bombardment” of Gaza consisted of defensive strikes in response to indiscriminate rocket fire aimed at Israeli civilians or that the “oppression of Palestinians” is at the hands of their own political leaders.

Moreover, Dazed appears to have a more general problem with Israel, which it calls, “the colonialist state” (see here, here, and here).

It should also be pointed out that the accusation of “pinkwashing” evokes historical antisemitic libels.

The charge that Israel’s progressive LGBTQ+ stance is part of an overall effort to distract from its policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians ties into the canard that whatever Jews do is bad and/or part of some nefarious ulterior motive.

Furthermore, the criticism serves as a tool whereby publications such as Dazed can carefully skirt around the thorny issue of gay rights in Palestinian territories and in neighboring Arab nations, and avoid addressing the stark reality: namely, that no such rights exist in these places and, more often than not, sexual minorities face cruel punishments or even death.

Human Dignity Trust
A map by Human Dignity Trust shows Israel is an LGBTQ-friendly nation surrounded by countries that criminalize same-sex relationships

Furthermore, a search of the Dazed website reveals that its journalists have found the time to cover all kinds of stories relating to dating apps, including items such as Tinder’s new feature prioritises LGBTQ+ safety” and “Australians use Grindr to help swing same-sex marriage vote.”

Given these headlines, you would think the publication would make space for the disturbing news that a hacker group linked to Iran has released the personal details of up to a million users of the Israeli gay dating site Atraf, including some profiles of those who had revealed their HIV status.

Not so.

Similarly, the fact that gays are publicly hanged in Iran, is also clearly not as newsworthy for Dazed as “Queer Cinema for Palestine.”

Let us be clear: The real “pinkwashing” is being done by Dazed, which in its effusive celebration of an initiative by pro-Palestinian advocates, who likely support boycotting the Middle East’s most liberal country, has completely ignored the diabolical conditions suffered by gay people living “against the order of nature” under Palestinian rule.

The author is a writer-researcher for HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism — where a version of this article first appeared.

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