Don’t Stand With Zionism!

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Below is a statement from Arab queer organizations. You can help by writing a letter to the US Social Forum or emailing them.

We, the undersigned queer Arab organizations, are appalled by the US Social Forum’s decision to allow Stand with Us to utilize the event as a platform to pinkwash Israel’s crimes in the region. Stand with Us is cynically manipulating the struggle of queer people in the Middle East through its workshop entitled “LGBTQI Liberation in the Middle East.”

Stand with Us is a self-declared Zionist propaganda organization which describes itself as “an international education organization that ensures that Israel’s side of the story is told in communities, campuses, libraries, the media and churches through brochures, speakers, conferences, missions to Israel, and thousands of pages of Internet resources”
(http://bit.ly/b9eAc4).

Stand with Us has no connection with the LGBT movement in the Middle East apart from ties to Zionist Israeli LGBT organizations, yet it claims to speak for and about our movements. It has no credibility in our region, and as organizations working in and from the Middle East, we condemn its attempt to use us, our struggles, our lives, and our experiences as a platform for pro-Israeli propaganda.

Since Israel’s brutal wars on Gaza and Lebanon in 2006 and particularly after the recent unprovoked attack on the flotilla of activists going to Gaza, the Israeli government has found itself increasingly marginalized by international condemnations and weakened through the growing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. To remedy this, it has launched a massive PR campaign using organizations such as Stand with Us to convince the world that Israel is not a brutal settler-colony state, but rather a free democracy where human rights in general, and LGBT rights in particular, are respected and upheld. Stand With Us deceptively uses the language of LGBT and women’s rights to obscure the fact that institutionalized discrimination is enshrined within the state of Israel.

Our struggle is deeply intertwined with the struggle of all oppressed people, and we cannot accept that we are being used as a tool to discredit the Palestinian cause. Stand with Us would have everyone believe that the Palestinian cause is an unworthy one because of the homophobia that exists within Palestinian society, as if homophobia does not exist elsewhere, and as if struggles for justice are predicated on some sort of inherent “goodness” of the oppressed, rather than on the principles of freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, everywhere. Stand with Us would have us all compartmentalize our beliefs, lives, and identities so that solidarity with the queer struggle would preclude solidarity with others.

While Stand With Us is quick to point out the oppression of queer Palestinians under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, it conveniently forgets that those same queers are not immune to the bombs, blockades, apartheid and destruction wrought upon them daily by the Israeli government, and that Israel’s multi-tiered oppression hardly makes a distinction between straight and gay Palestinians.

We refuse to be instrumentalized by anyone, be it our own oppressive governments or the Zionist lobby hijacking our struggle to legitimize the state of Israel and its policies, thus providing even more fodder for our own governments to use against us. If you want to learn about our movements and struggles, engage with us, rather than with those who will use us as pawns in Israel’s campaign to pinkwash its crimes.

The inclusion of Stand With Us at the USSF is an egregious oversight on the part of the forum. We ask the forum to justify this inclusion given that it violates its own principles of anti-racism, uniting oppressed communities, prioritizing marginalized voices, and opposing US foreign policy. The USSF should be held accountable to its own standards. We look forward to hearing its plans to address the situation.

Helem, Lebanese Protection for LGBT
Al-Qaws, For Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society
ASWAT, Palestinian Gay Women
Palestinian Queers for BDS, pqbds.wordpress.com

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22 Responses to “Don’t Stand With Zionism!”

  1. actron cp9190

    Nov 04. 2010

    finally found this really help me in my research. thanks for sharing

    Reply to this comment
  2. pharmacy tech

    Jun 22. 2010

    nice post. thanks.

    Reply to this comment
  3. shax

    Jun 20. 2010

    no space: There is a growing movement of anti-zionist jews who will have a strong and visible presence at the USSF. I encourage you to speak to them and see what they have to say about Palestine, as jews.

    Israel’s existence, like that of the US, came about through genocide, displacement, and land theft. That is a historical injustice that needs to be righted. You may want to read Ali Abunimah’s book “One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, that perhaps might answer some of your questions.

    I don’t care if Jews have a state or not. What I do care about is that the creation of that state happened at the expense of another population.

    The myth that Arab countries surrounding Israel want to destroy it is also a load of garbage. The only two Arab governments that have not normalized relations with Israel are Lebanon and Syria. The rest of them are collaborationist governments that do Israel’s bidding (Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.).

    The Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment campaign is not about “boycotting everything Israeli”. It is much more tactical and targeted than you suggest. Again, I urge you to read about it before making such blanket statements: http://www.bdsmovement.net.

    It is also not true that no one wanted the jews around. Anti-semitism was a European phenomenon. Arab Jews have lived in the region for ages without suffering the discrimination that they did at the hands of the Europeans. it wasn’t until 1948, when the zionist movement massacred the inhabitants of Palestine and forcibly created the state of Israel did Arab governments begin their expulsion of jews from their homes. And even then, not all Arab jews moved to Israel. The Lebanese jews were never expelled in the same way, and their pattern of migration was very different: they chose to go mainly to Europe rather than to Israel.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Richard Estes

    Jun 19. 2010

    the notion that Israel had to be created to give Jews a place to live is pure nonsense

    for example, Jews live throughout the Americas without any significant difficulty greater than anyone else, millions of them, as well as the UK and France

    in all these areas, Arabs and Muslims face more discrimination and abuse than Jews, with the possible exception of Central and South America

    Reply to this comment
  5. hitch mount bike rack

    Jun 18. 2010

    Your article seems interesting, i have noted it my digg and stumble account.The point you are making is easy to understand and effective.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Mir

    Jun 18. 2010

    No space, I have nothing against Jews. Everyone has the full right to practice his own religion, and every people have the right to have his own country. But allow me to comment about your last sentence: “The whole point of the Zionist political movement was to allow Jews to live somewhere, since no one wanted them around.” Well the “no one” you are talking about is the European. Jews, along with several other people, had faced hatred and persecution during the World War II. After the war, due to the strong pressure of the Jews and the big feeling of guilt, the European decided to grant them a country. Now, the common sense would say that this country should be in Europe, where the persecutions had taken place, but no. Politicians decided to solve one problem by creating a bigger one. They stole the land of a people to give it to another one. And since then, this same people who once were victim, became the executioner. Israel has the right to exist. That’s sure. But why does it have to steal a land, and the most important thing, why to persecute its people?

    Reply to this comment
  7. no space?

    Jun 18. 2010

    I am wondering if a Jew with radical politics who thinks Israel should be able to exist has a space at this forum. Are Jews only allowed if they prove to everyone that they do not support the existence of Israel? Shouldn’t Jews, like every group of people, be able to self-govern? If you are against Israel’s existence, then how do you justify supporting other movements for autonomy? If you are against the Israeli government’s policies, fine. Though the refusal to even listen to the Israeli side of the story limits your ability to comprehend the situation fully, since on both sides there are people just trying to live their lives. Clearly there is a problematic political situation in the middle east. I am unclear how a blanket boycott of anything Israeli will help. Even supposing that Israel as a sovereign political entity collapsed, I am not sure what would happen to the Jewish people that live there now. Probably they would be attacked by other groups in the area who do not like them and who do not want them to live amongst them. I agree with delux that the large and populous Arab states surrounding the Jewish state simply do not want the Jews living there. Not sure where they should go. The whole point of the Zionist political movement was to allow Jews to live somewhere, since no one wanted them around. I do not see a space at this forum for someone like myself who sees being Jewish as a source of pride, rather than a problem.

    Reply to this comment
  8. David

    Jun 17. 2010

    Native English Speaker: Lots of English-speaking queers (in Canada, e.g. ) use the term for themselves by choice, and don’t consider it offensive: check out for example http://queersagainstapartheid.org/ — who wrote a letter to the USSF opposing the presence of SWU at the forum. When I called, they said they were meeting to figure how to deal with the situation, which seemed like a mistake (they allow self-organizing workshops, and this one slipped in unnoticed…).

    Reply to this comment
  9. azzam azzam

    Jun 17. 2010

    I hardly think Israel is the problem for queers in the middle east. Get a grip, and take your eternal quest for conflict elsewhere! Also, queer is totally acceptable, from the perspective of a native english speaker.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Anas Gilgamesh

    Jun 17. 2010

    Good Done!

    Reply to this comment
  11. delux

    Jun 16. 2010

    I see your point but frankly, the State of Israel does not need your legitimization any more than you need theirs.

    Israel has problems and has made mistakes and was born in blood just like every country in the world including all of the Arab ones.

    But, in short, the crime of Israel is the same “crime” you have supposedly committed; simply existing where it is “not supposed to.”

    Reply to this comment
  12. Rachel Rabble

    Jun 16. 2010

    Hey there, I fully support this statement and I would like to put pressure on the USSF organizers to remove this workshop. Which e-mail address should I contact? I could not tell from the link at the top of the page.

    Reply to this comment
  13. team

    Jun 16. 2010

    Could you elaborate further Native English Speaker?

    Reply to this comment
  14. Goodluck

    Jun 16. 2010

    Good luck trying to get anything out of USSF. They are a US focused group with no understanding of global issues

    Reply to this comment
  15. Native English Speaker

    Jun 16. 2010

    Why do Arabs continue to use the word queer. It’s offense. I know you all think you speak good English, but you really don’t.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Eric -NotMyTribe

    Jun 15. 2010

    STAND WITH US was also behind the Israeli counter-protest yachts which sailed out to try to harass the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

    Reply to this comment
  17. wissam

    Jun 15. 2010

    I have posted this article on Facebook as part of the israel cultural boycott campaign.

    Reply to this comment
  18. GouineMum

    Jun 15. 2010

    Great!

    Reply to this comment
  19. Elizabeth

    Jun 15. 2010

    I agree that this pinkwashing is reprehensible, but honestly what prove is there that Israel has been “weakened through the growing success of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign”? Israel’s trade volume only increases, there’s steady economic growth, and the standard of living is improving. You can see the growing GDP per capita here, for example: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2006/01/data/dbcoutm.cfm?SD=2003&ED=2007&R1=1&R2=1&CS=3&SS=2&OS=C&DD=0&OUT=1&C=436&S=PPPWGT-PPPPC&CMP=0&x=66&y=15

    Reply to this comment
  20. Aphrodite

    Jun 15. 2010

    بخصوص وفريق العمل وكل من لديه صلة بها
    نؤيد كل كلمة وردت في هذا الخطاب ونوقعه بدمائنا وعقولنا

    لمن يدعون تحريرنا
    الحرية لا تعطى بل تنتزع
    ولا حرية لنا بدون فلسطين الحرة
    ولن ننظر ممن اغتصب أرضنا وقتل أطفالنا وسرق مواردنا أن يحرر شواذنا

    كلنا شاذون من أجل الحرية
    وأولها حرية شعبنا في فلسطين وكل مكان

    Reply to this comment

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