Alex Blaze

Gay Americans and Canadians on Israel/Palestine

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 02, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Canada, israel, John Greyson, palestine, Tel Aviv

The Israel/Palestine conflict is a fraught issue in the American LGBT community, but I don't think we've discussed it here on Bilerico to any extent.

Here's a video interview xtra (Canada's fag rag) put out with Canadian filmmaker John Greyson, who pulled his documentary Fig Trees from the Tel Aviv International LGBT Film Festival to protest Israel's actions in Palestine. Some of the comments were unfortunate on the video, assuming that whichever side is more pro-gay is the one queers have to support, as if decades-old, bloody conflict is that simple.

Complicating the issue for Americans should be the fact that the far-right has latched on to Israel's side as well to appease the eschatology crowd, a group of people who think that the End Times won't happen until Israel is unified. This situation has made some strange bedfellows in America, with the entire Washington political and media establishments, the Religious Right, the neocons, and many LGBT people on one side, with most of the left on the other and America generally divided. Canadians are generally more inclined to agree with the American left on this issue.

Video's after the jump. What do you all think?

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Thanks for posting, Alex.

Just to add: I was at a radical queer convergence hosted by Bash Back! Chicago this past weekend, and went to a great workshop hosted by QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism). QUIT's letter to filmmakers like Greyson is what has/is prompting them to withdraw. Greyson is also part of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

If anyone's interested, there's an ongoing effort to ask other filmmakers to do the same:

Midtowner | June 2, 2009 2:53 PM

This is an exteremly complicated issue, one that GLBT's need to consider carefully, there is some credence to "whichever side is more pro-gay is the one queers have to support" but it cant be that simple. Israel does have a much more progressive view of us than the Palestinians. Human Rights are extremely important but keep in mind if we got rid of Isreal then went over to celebrate with the Palestinians...wouldnt they kill us for being queer?

This doesnt give Isreal a pass for everything but neither are the Palestinans an innocent and repressed people...

Midtowner~ Thanks for commenting, but I don't think anyone is talking about getting rid of Israel.

Midtowner | June 2, 2009 6:09 PM

You right Alex, and I agree something needs to be done. I also agree it's an extremely complicated issue for GLBT's. On one hand you have an open progressive society which GLBT's for the most part are safe, then another group which GLBT's are not.

It does get very confusing....

I don't think you even know what the debate is about, since no one is talking about getting rid of Israel.

And, yes, the issue is complicated since LGBT people care about things other than which society appears safer to us from 6000 miles away.

Midtowner | June 2, 2009 6:46 PM

Ok Alex, I was agreeing you were right...


Haha, sorry I didn't notice.

beergoggles | June 2, 2009 8:02 PM

Any time you talk about the middle east, there is always the issue that the crazy islamic fundies there consider it their goal to take out israel. That in itself makes it very hard to not sympathize with their struggle. The fact that israel is friendlier towards gays is just the cherry on top. Then again, if it was ok for foreigners to just grab land from native americans to make the US, I don't see how the native palestinians can have any complaints. I should probably indicate that I said that tongue in cheek.

I honestly think the US shouldn't be puttering around in the mideast and it's not our responsibility to be bringing about peace; obviously neither side is sick of killing each other yet and what makes it all so laughable is that theoretically they're the same ethnicity yet consider it so offensive to even be associated as such.

Rev. Will McGarvey | June 2, 2009 7:30 PM

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for connecting these important human rights issues. Having led a peacemaking group to Palestine-Israel last autumn for the Olive Harvest, it is heartening to learn that someone is standing up for the other invisible party in this conflict: Queer Palestinians.

Yes, each of our liberation is tied up with the liberation of those who have been Othered. May both Palestine and Israel know a genuine peace, but let it be a peace that allows the LGBTQ community to come out of their bunkers as well.

I'm usually inclined to be an opinionated bitch. But knowing how much I despise it when Americans presume to form opinions about the state of things in Cuba and Venezuela, when they've never lived there or truly understood the culture, I will abstain from passing judgement.

One thing to note about that video: The Israeli spokesman was disadvantaged by his poor English, unfortunately.He simply made no sense.

I'm rather interested in watching Yun Suh's documentary, though.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 3, 2009 2:55 AM

Here are some facts to throw a little light on the topic.

The zionist state is not a haven for GLBT Palestinians, who face victimization and the occasional 'honor killing' from rightist islamist clerics or their families.

If they do manage to get to Tel Aviv it's without papers or money and most are simply arrested and deported. Many are forced into ultra low paying jobs or become prostitutes or worse. The worse in this case is that the zionist secret police force them to become collaborators by blackmailing them.

The Jewish Daily Forward reports that “Because they are so vulnerable to blackmail, it is assumed by the families and neighbors of gay Palestinian men — sometimes correctly — that they have been blackmailed into becoming informers, either for Israeli intelligence or for opposition Palestinian factions.”

Charity Crouse, a Jewish lesbian anti-occupation activist connects the dots. She says “… the Shabak, or Israeli secret police, will immediately attempt to blackmail any gay Palestinian they encounter into being a collaborator. …the men are sometimes picked up by the Israeli police ostensibly for being in the country illegally, and eventually end up in the custody of Shabak. Shabak threatens to tell their families or the P.A. that they are gay and working as prostitutes in Israel.”

Second, the zionist colonial administration operates a cruel apartheid system to exploit Palestinians. Desmond Tutu, who can be considered an expert on such matters says he was "very deeply distressed" by a visit to the Holy Land, adding that "it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa".

Third, in addition to its colonialist apartheid practices the zionist regime denies basic items like adequate food, medical and educational services. It subjects Palestinians to constant military attacks aimed a causing civilian causalities. The attack in January this year took the lives of 1600 civilians, including over 300 children. Every time shells landed on a school some IDF or zionist source would issue an “oops” statement.

Simcha Leventhal, an IDF vet describes these wanton attacks that here:'s_moral_low/

The net effect of these denials of food and medicine and intermittent killing sprees by the IDF is clearly a case of ethnic cleansing.

The solution is the creation of a democratic, secular Palestinian state in all territory historically (aka, before 1947) defined as Palestine and the withdrawal of all US forces from the region accompanied by a denial of. The zionists will have to accept the same sort of arrangement that ended apartheid in SA complicated by the issue or returning refugees.