Received by email:Saturday, January 15, 2011
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been called bigoted and anti-Semitic by David Hersch, vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, in an attempt to remove Tutu from his position as patron of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre.
In recent years Tutu has been on the receiving end of a number of defamatory attacks. The eminent human rights advocate has become a target because of his uncompromising position on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. However these attacks ignore his principled commitment to the safety and dignity of all people in Israel and Palestine.
Sign the petition in defense of Tutuhere
and read Open Shuhada Street's press statement below.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The petition is a pledge of support for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who has recently been the target of slanderous attacks by those who reject his principled and fair-minded stance on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
In the first 48 hours, over 1000 people added their names to petition. The current count is over 1,600. Some of the prominent signatories include Arthur Chaskalson, Lord Joel Joffe, Omar Barghoutti, Adam Hochschild, Andrew Feinstein, Annie Lennox and Zackie Achmat. Open Shuhada Street endorses and fully supports the petition started by concerned South Africans in defence of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
The petition was initiated by members of Open Shuhada Street in their personal capacities. It opposed a call from David Hersch, vice-chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, demanding that Archbishop Emeritus Tutu be removed or resign from his position as patron of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. In a circulated letter Hersch called the Archbishop Emeritus anti-Semitic and bigoted. These sentiments were echoed by well-known Israel-booster Professor Alan Dershowitz, who called Tutu a “bigot” and an “anti-semite”.
In recent years the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has been on the receiving end of a number of defamatory attacks. The eminent human rights advocate has become a target because of his uncompromising position on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. However these attacks ignore his principled commitment to the safety and dignity of all people in Israel and Palestine. He has personally met with Palestinian leaders to express solidarity with their suffering under Israeli occupation, and to strongly urge them to refrain from violent attacks on Israeli targets and civilians.
Last October, the Archbishop Emeritus asked the Cape Town Opera not to travel to Israel. His argument was based on his firm belief in human rights and equality. He wrote, “Only the thickest-skinned South Africans would be comfortable performing before an audience that excluded residents living, for example, in an occupied West Bank village 30 minutes from Tel Aviv, who would not be allowed to travel to Tel Aviv, while including his Jewish neighbours from an illegal settlement on occupied Palestinian territory.”
In retaliation against the Cape Town Opera statement, Rhoda Kadalie called the Archbishop Emeritus a “bigot” and the Israeli Ambassador accused him of “bias” and of “deliberate populist incitement” (Cape Times, 28 Oct 2010). By slandering the name of the heroic champion for human rights, Kadalie, Hersch and the Israeli Ambassador have joined the ranks of the Archbishop Emeritus’ past critics: Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Chinese occupiers of Tibet and Ugandans denying the rights of gays and lesbians.
Lungisa Mndende, the Khayelitsha Coordinator of Open Shuhada Street and a signatory of the petition, led a delegation of members on a visit of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre last December. In support of the petition he remarked, “Visiting the Holocaust Centre was very painful, but it was an important reminder of past injustice. Whether it is the struggle against Nazi genocide or against Apartheid, it is important for us to remember the history of oppression. For his advocacy of non-violence and human rights Archbishop Tutu is an ideal patron for the Holocaust Centre because he reminds us that we have the strength and the duty to struggle against racism and violations of human rights at home and in every country around the world.”
The full text of the petition is appended below. The petition can be accessed electronically at www.thepetitionsite.com/1/defend-tutu/------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ PETITION IN DEFENCE OF ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS DESMOND TUTU
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has publicly criticised Israeli policy towards Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank. He has also criticised Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians. These criticisms are well-known.
Recently, his criticisms of Israeli policy have elicited bitter personal attacks. Amidst calls for him to be removed as Patron of the Cape Town and Johannesburg Holocaust Centres of the South African Holocaust Foundation, Tutu has been attacked and labelled an anti-Semite and a bigot
Disagreements should be debated openly, but these personal attacks are totally unacceptable.
During the Second World War, which killed 60 million people, Nazi Germany killed socialists, gay men and lesbians, Roma people, and resistance fighters, but its most systematic destruction was of the Jewish people. Six million Jews were transferred to ghettos and concentration camps before being murdered.
This grotesque crime against humanity must never be forgotten. Its legacy and lessons belong to and must be guarded by all of humanity. Racism including anti-Semitism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and inhumanity must be resisted wherever they occur. As stated in the Mission Statement of the South African Holocaust Foundation, we must build “a more caring and just society in which human rights and diversity are respected and valued.”
This is precisely the cause to which Tutu has dedicated his life. He represents the finest tradition of resistance to all forms of oppression. He has taught us that understanding the Holocaust begins with appreciating that the only way for each of us to be safe is for all of us to be safe. He embodies the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document born of the horrors of the Second World War, the rights contained in which pertain equally to Israelis and Palestinians.
To use the Holocaust in an attempt to delegitimise Tutu is to undermine its legacy and insult the memory of its victims. To call him an anti-Semite, because he has attacked the policies of the Israeli government, is outrageous, renders the term meaningless, and enfeebles the necessary efforts to defeat real anti-Semites and racists.
The City University of New York has rejected a honorary degree for playwright Tony Kushner after a member of its board of trustees, Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, objected to Kushner's criticism of Israel. The Jewish Week reports on the board of trustees meeting this week where the decision was made:
But Wiesenfeld, a board member of several Jewish organizations and an activist in conservative circles, spoke out against plans to honor Kushner, who, like others receiving honorary degrees, may have spoken at the graduation ceremony.
Wiesenfeld cited what he believed were some of Kushner's anti-Israel statements, all of which he said he found on the website of Norman Finkelstein, another figure known for his vehemently anti-Israel views.
When people identify themselves with "these types of viewpoints," Wiesenfeld told his fellow trustees, "it's up to all of us to look at fairness and consider these things," especially when Israel sits in such a hostile neighborhood. "There's a lot of disingenuousness and non-intellectual activity directed against the State of Israel on campuses across the country," he said, adding that CUNY has had its share of such activity, although it's far better than most universities.
Following Wiesenfeld's comments, a majority of CUNY board members voted to remove Kushner's name from the list of this year's honorees, and then voted unanimously to table, or put off, the honor to the playwright, according to CUNY spokesman Michael Arena. The move, though, effectively kills the honor, because the next scheduled board meeting is at the end of June, after John Jay's June 3 commencement ceremony.
Wiesenfeld evidently also worked with Brooklyn Assemblyman (and settler supporter) Dov Hikind to try to get Brooklyn College adjunct professor Kristopher Peterson-Overton fired over critical views of Israel. That effort failed.Kushner's response to the CUNY board of trustees is below and deserves to be read in full:
At the May 2 public meeting of the CUNY Board of Trustees, which was broadcast on CUNY television and radio, Trustee Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld delivered a grotesque caricature of my political beliefs regarding the state of Israel, concocted out of three carefully cropped, contextless quotes taken from interviews I’ve given, the mention of my name on the blog of someone with whom I have no connection whatsoever, and the fact that I serve on the advisory board of a political organization with which Mr.Weisenfeld strongly disagrees. As far as I’m able to conclude from the podcast of this meeting, Mr. Weisenfeld spoke for about four minutes, the first half of which was devoted to a recounting of the politics of former President of Ireland and UN Human Rights High Commissioner Mary Robinson that was as false as his description of mine.
Ms. Robinson, however, was not on public trial; I was, apparently, and at the conclusion of Mr. Weisenfeld’s vicious attack on me, eight members voted to approve all the honorary degree candidates, including me, and four voted to oppose the slate if my name remained on it. Lacking the requisite nine votes to approve the entire slate, the Board, in what sounds on the podcast like a scramble to dispense with the whole business, tabled my nomination, approved the other candidates, and adjourned.
Not a word was spoken in my defense.I wasn’t told in advance that my willingness to accept an honorary doctorate from John Jay would require my presence at a meeting to defend myself. As far as I know, no one who might have spoken on my behalf was notified in advance. I’m not a difficult person to find, nor am I lacking in articulate colleagues and friends who would have responded. For all his posturing as a street-tough scrapper for causes he believes in, Mr.Weisenfeld, like most bullies, prefers an unfair fight.But far more dismaying than Mr. Weisenfeld’s diatribe is the silence of the other eleven board members.
Did any of you feel that your responsibilities as trustees of an august institution of higher learning included even briefly discussing the appropriateness of Mr. Weisenfeld’s using a public board meeting as a platform for deriding the political opinions of someone with whom he disagrees? Did none of you feel any responsibility towards me, whose name was before you, and hence available as a target for Mr.Weisenfeld’s slander, entirely because I’d been nominated for an honor by the faculty and administration of one of your colleges?
I can’t adequately describe my dismay at the fact that none of you felt stirred enough by ordinary fairness to demand of one of your members that, if he was going to mount a vicious attack, he ought to adhere to standards higher than those of internet gossip.
Mr. Weisenfeld declared to you that, rather than turn to “pro-Israel” websites, he’d gleaned his insights into my politics from the website of Norman Finkelstein. I find it appalling that he failed to consider a third option:familiarizing himself with any of the work I’ve done, my plays, screenplays, essays and speeches, for which, I assume, the faculty and administration of John Jay nominated me for an honor.It would have taken very little effort to learn that my politics regarding the state of Israel do not resemble Mr. Weisenfeld’s account.
I don’t intend to mount a full defense of myself or my opinions in this letter, an effort on my part which an honorary degree ought not to require. But I can’t allow myself to be publicly defamed without responding:-
My questions and reservations regarding the founding of the state of Israel are connected to my conviction, drawn from my reading of American history, that democratic government must be free of ethnic or religious affiliation, and that the solution to the problems of oppressed minorities are to be found in pluralist democracy and in legal instruments like the 14th Amendment; these solutions are,like all solutions, imperfect, but they seem to me more rational, and have had a far better record of success in terms of minorities being protected from majoritarian tyranny, than have national or tribal solutions.
I am very proud of being Jewish,and discussing this issue publicly has been hard; but I believe in the absolute good of public debate, and I feel that silence on the part of Jews who have questions is injurious to the life of the Jewish people. My opinion about the wisdom of the creation of a Jewish state has never been expressed in any form without a strong statement of support for Israel’s right to exist, and my ardent wish that it continue to do so, something Mr. Weisenfeld conveniently left out of his remarks.-
I believe that the historical record shows, incontrovertibly, that the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes as part of the creation of the state of Israel was ethnic cleansing, a conclusion I reached mainly by reading the work of Benny Morris, an acclaimed and conservative Israeli historian whose political opinions are much more in accord with Mr. Weisenfeld’s than with mine; Mr.Morris differs from Mr. Weisenfeld in bringing to his examination of history a scholar’s rigor, integrity, seriousness of purpose and commitment to telling the truth.-
I won’t enter into arguments about Israeli policy towards the Palestinian people since 1948, about the security fence or the conduct of the IDF, except to say that my feelings and opinions – my outrage, my grief, my terror, my moments of despair - regarding the ongoing horror in the middle east, the brunt of which has been born by the Palestinian people, but which has also cost Israelis dearly and which endangers their existence, are shared by many Jews, in Israel, in the US and around the world.
My despair is kept in check by my ongoing belief in andcommitment to a negotiated conclusion to the Palestinian-Israeli crisis.- I have never supported a boycott of the state of Israel. I don’t believe it will accomplish anything positive in terms of resolving the crisis. I believe that the call for a boycott is predicated on an equation of this crisis with other situations,contemporary and historical, that is fundamentally false, the consequence of a failure of political understanding of a full and compassionate engagement with Jewish history and Jewish existence.-
I am on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, and have remained there even though I disagree with the organization about a number of issues, including the boycott. I remain affiliated because the women and men of JVP are courageous, committed people who work very hard serving the interests of peace and justice and the Jewish people, and I’m honored by my association with them.I have a capacity Mr. Weisenfeld lacks, namely the ability to tolerate and even value disagreement.
Furthermore, resigning from the advisory board of JVP, or any organization, to escape the noisy censure of likes of Mr. Weisenfeld is repellent to me.- Mr. Weisenfeld attempts to cast me as a marginal extremist, a familiar tactic on this particular issue. It’s a matter of public record that this is not the case.
I’m co-editor of a volume of essays on the crisis in the middle east, which includes among its 58 contributing authors many rabbis, two US Poet Laureates and two recipients of the Jerusalem Prize. I’ve had a long and happy affiliation with such organizations as the 92nd Street Y, The Jewish Museum and the Upper West Side JCC.
My work has been recognized by such groups as The National Foundation for Jewish Culture, The Shofar Center, The Central Synagogue and Brandeis University (one of fifteen honorary degrees I’ve received). I state this not to present credentials, but because I refuse to allow Mr. Weisenfeld or any other self-appointed spokesman/guardian to diminish the depth or meaningfulness of my connection to the Jewish community.I accepted the kind offer of a degree from John Jay College not because I need another award, but because I was impressed with the students and teachers there – as I have always been impressed with CUNY teachers and students - and I wanted to participate in celebrating their accomplishment.
I did not expect to be publicly defamed as a result, and I believe I am owed an apology for the careless way in which my name and reputation were handled at your meeting.I decided long ago that my job as a playwright is to try to speak and write honestly about what I believe to be true. I am interested in history and politics, and long ago I realized that people uninterested in a meaningful exchange of opinion and ideas would selectively appropriate my words to suit their purposes. It’s been my experience that truth eventually triumphs over soundbites, spin and defamation, and that reason,honest inquiry, and courage, which are more appealing and more persuasive than demagoguery, will carry the day.Sincerely,
presented at the Temperatures Rising! Australian civil society & Palestinian freedom: analyses, resistances, solidarities, activismsUniversity of Technology, Sydney 14-15 May 2011
While refusing to back down on its aggression and on its apartheid policies against the Palestinian people both within its expanding borders and in the rest of the Occupied Territories, it has had to aggressively sell Brand Israel.
Part of this campaign has been its claim to being the only democratic state in the Middle East. And part of this campaign has been to sell itself as the only gay and lesbian friendly state in the Middle East. A bit like Daffyd from Little Britain, who claims he is the only gay in the village.
This is what we refer to as Pinkwashing – Israel promoting its image world wide as a progressive country which has recognised gay rights; using the existence of a gay community in Israel as a selling point, to thereby attract support for itself among gay men and lesbians around the world, particularly in the West.
To prove its progressive credentials as the only safe haven for gay men and lesbians in the Middle East it points to its legislative record:- Homosexuality in Israel was decriminalised in 1988.
To a degree these gains cannot be denied. At this point it might interest you to know – it certain caught my attention - that homosexuality in Palestine was decriminalised in 1956 under the Jordanian mandate
The Brand Israel campaign seeks, in an explicitly racist manner, to contrast itself with the supposedly barbaric, uncivilised Palestinian Arabs and Arabs in general, all of whom are supposedly inherently and uniformly hostile to gay men , lesbians and transgendered people.
Israel could not try to get away with its pinkwashing if it did not have the support of the mainstream Israeli gay and lesbian communities and organisations. These have struck a Faustian deal with the Zionist State: they have given their allegiance to the Zionist State in return for the State’s progressive policies.
Amongst its activities to sell Israel – and Tel Aviv in particular - as gay and lesbian friendly, the state institutions and the LGBT communities in Israel have been very active indeed. Here are some examples of their activities:
Last February, at the International Tourist Trade Show in Berlin, Israel launched its campaign to promote gay tourism to the city of Tel Aviv. The Israeli exhibition at this Show was entitled Tel Aviv Gay Vibe – Free; Fun; Fabulous. This exhibition was a joint project of Israel’s LGBT Association (Aguda) and Tel Aviv’s Tourism Association. Amongst those who spoke out against this pinkwashing campaign was the group Palestinian Queers for BDS.
The Israeli state helps fund international gay and lesbian film festivals overseas. Last year a month-long festival entitled “Out In Israel” was launched in the Bay Area, California in the USA. This celebration of LGBT Israeli culture included a film series, literary readings, musical performances, dance, and panel discussions on LGBT culture in Israel from a Zionist perspective. The Palestinian queer organisations Al-Qaws and Aswat issued a statement of protest, pointing out that Israel’s oppression of Palestinians did not distinguish between straight and gay Palestinians.
Also in 2010 the US Social Forum (the USSF) allowed the Zionist anti-Arab propaganda organisation Stand With Us to participate. Israeli Queers for Palestine spoke out against Stand With Us. Their statement, headed Say NO to Pinkwashing at the USSF!, read:
“To remedy [the growing success of BDS and its increasing marginalisation] [Israel] has launched a massive PR campaign using organisations 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 institutionalised discrimination is enshrined within the state of Israel.”
A number of Arab queer organisations also spoke out against Pinkwashing at the USSF, They included Al-Qaws and Aswat from Palestine/Israel, Helem from Lebanon, Palestinian Queers fro BDS, and the Moroccan group Kifkif.
Late in 2010 MTV’s LGBT Network, Logo, published the results of two internet polls in which it nominated, among other cities, the city of Tel Aviv for gay ‘sexiest city’ and ‘year breakthrough.’ The Tel Aviv-based group Israelis Queers for Palestine issued a statement denouncing the nomination.
In 2009 the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association held a conference in Tel Aviv. As with the Berlin show a year later, this conference was organized in cooperation with the Israeli LGBT organisation Aguda. Protests against this conference were called for from all over the world; Sydney gay and lesbian activists were among those who sent their protests.
In 2006 World Pride was held in Jerusalem. Anti-Zionist gay men and lesbians world-wide were furious, pointing out the irony that the slogan for World Pride was “Love Without Borders” while the Separation Wall that Israel is building on Palestinian land, and given that no Palestinian who does not have Israeli citizenship would have been allowed into the country to attend World Pride.
Gay and lesbian activists from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide added their protest in a letter to the Sydney Star Observer.
This June the Tel Aviv Municipality intends to have a stand at Europe’s gay pride parade and festival in Berlin. Proof of the efficacy of the anti-Israeli Apartheid campaign there will be no Israeli symbols or markers, not even the Israeli flag. Instead the emphasis will be on Tel Aviv as a global city – pluralistic and liberal.
Selling Israel is one side of the Pinkwashing coin. The other is to use gay and lesbian rights to attack critics of Israeli Apartheid. Again this is taking place in a number of countries around the world.
Selling Israel is one side of the Pinkwashing coin. The other is to use gay and lesbian rights to attack the critics of Apartheid Israel.
One of the most recent examples of this took place in Sydney. On the weekend of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, in the lead up to the NSW state elections, posters were stuck to poles on Oxford Street. On of these asked: “Do the NSW Greens oppose gay rights? By boycotting Israel, the NSW Greens are boycotting the only country in the middle east where homosexuality is not a capital offence, or even a crime. Choose Freedom. Don’t Vote Green on March 26.”
Also in March of this year gay and lesbian anti-Israeli Apartheid activists were targeted in New York. A “Party to End Apartheid”, organized by a group called Siege Busters, was scheduled to be held in New York’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans Community Center. It was to be part of a nation-wide series of events under the banner of Israel Awareness Week and was meant to be a fundraiser to raise money for another flotilla to Gaza.
Michael Lucas, a leading American producer of gay porn movies, a rabid anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racist and a strong supporter of Israel, called on donors to the centre to boycott if the centre did not cancel the party.
In response the LGBT Center stated cancelled the event and banned the group from ever using the centre. This decision was strongly criticised by a number of organisations, including the Palestinian queer organisations Al Qaws and Aswat, the queer academic Judith Butler, the Siegebusters Working Group, the organisation Existence is Resistance, and Sherry Wolf on behalf of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network.
A final example, this time in Toronto, Canada. Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, formed to work in solidarity with gay men, lesbians and trannies in Palestine as well as with the Palestinian resistance movements around the world, planned to participate in Toronto’s 2010 Pride Parade. Reacting to Zionist pressure, the City of Toronto staff warned Pride Toronto to ban the group or face the loss of its city funding. Thanks to a vigorous protests from the gay and lesbian community Pride Toronto refused ban the group.
At this point it is important to expose the truth behind the claim that Israel is a safe haven for gay men, lesbians and trannies.
To start with it is apt to point out that progressive legislation in and of itself does not mean that hatred of gay men and lesbians has been done away with. Nothing illustrated this better than the murder of two people and the injuring of many more when someone entered a youth group meting at a LGBT community centre in Tel Aviv.
More telling was the fact that the ceremony held to protest and commemorate the murders, Palestinian speakers were deliberately excluded, while Benjamin Netanyahu – hardly a champion of gay rights, spoke at the event. Israeli flags abounded. Needless to say, no one from the Zionist side made any link between this attack and the militarisation of Israel due to its ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people and the expanding occupation of Palestine.
As protesters against the 2006 World Pride in Jerusalem pointed out, Israeli oppression of Palestinians does not distinguish between Palestinian gays and straights. Palestinians who do not hold citizenship in Israel are not allowed into Israel. A tiny handful are, indeed, taken in, but only if they are willing to be paraded as victims of Palestinian society.
For those who are citizens of Israel the situation is not that much better. Racism abounds, not least within the Israeli gay and lesbian communities. The few Palestinian gay men who live in Tel Aviv and who wish to enter a gay club will try to make themselves look less Arab, will speak Hebrew, and still they are often refused entry.
If, on the other hand, one is gay or Palestinian in the West Bank one is submitted to the same oppression as all other Palestinians: checkpoints, harassments, home demolishments, pot shots from Israel settlers and so on.
And if one is in Gaza, one is subjected to the siege, to bombings and raids.
No, Israeli oppression does not distinguish between straight and gay Palestinians.
Zionism, through oppression and occupation, plays a direct role in encouraging homophobia among Palestinians. Here is what Samira Saraya – a Palestinian lesbian activist and founding member of Aswat – has to say:
‘Like every society, the Palestinian society is dynamic. The reality of occupation, oppression, financial hardships, etc., have a lot to do with the movement of the Palestinian society “backward” toward conservative, religious, and paranoid ways of being. This of course is not helpful for us LGBTQ. A society that experiences war on a daily basis and that fights for its survival cannot move ahead. It is by definition a “sick society” that needs to have freedom and autonomy from which it can begin to heal.’
Rima, a Palestinian feminist activist working with Aswat, adds:
‘My people have suffered and are still suffering from traumas of land expropriation, house demolishing, occupation, discrimination and threats of citizenship dismissal. For these reasons and others, the Palestinian society is very zealous about its traditions and culture. The majority of society rejects behaviours and changes that “threaten” its heterosexuality and patriarchy since it is perceived as a threat to the continuity of the uniqueness of our culture. They romanticise the past and sometime I feel they want to freeze everything that was in the past and reject any change.’
There is yet another factor that causes among Palestinians generally a suspicion of Palestinian homosexuals. There are many instances where Israeli police have blackmailed Palestinian homosexuals by threatening to out them to their families and their communities. The result of course, is that it is commonplace for Palestinian homosexuals to be suspected of being spies by their people.
Coming out is not necessarily possible or desirable. Palestinian queer activists are very clear that they will not slavishly imitate the Western model of activism. Their approach is that Palestinian queers are out through the public existence and the public presence of their organisations, which currently are Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society and Aswat – Palestinian Gay Women.
The checkpoints controlling the movement of Palestinians also inhibit the movement of Palestinian gay and lesbian activists from moving inside their own country. The checkpoints thereby impede the growth of the Palestinian gay and lesbian movement. It is not for nothing that Jason Ritchie, an anthropologist who worked closely with Al-Qaws and its director and co-founder Haneen Maikey, states that in the case of Palestinian gay men and lesbians one should talk refer not to the closet but to the checkpoint, which is the real and symbolic check on the development of their sexual identity, political activity and freedom.
Palestinian gay men and lesbians refuse to play the role of victim assigned to them by the Zionist gay and lesbian communities. They have been fighting back. In doing so they are asserting themselves as both gay or lesbian or queer or transgendered, and as Palestinians. They will not be forced to make a choice. Here is a quote from the oraganisation Palestinian Queers for BDS:
“As Palestinian queers, our struggle is not only against social injustice and our rights as a queer minority in Palestinian society, but rather, our main struggle is one against Israel’s colonization, occupation and apartheid; a system that has oppressed us for the past 63 years. Violations of human rights and international law, suppression of basic rights and civil liberty, and discrimination are deeply rooted in Israel’s policies towards Palestinians, straight and gay alike.”
That is, the struggle for sexual and gender diversity is inseparable from the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
By demanding and struggling for their rights as gay men and lesbians while at the same time asserting their opposition to Israeli occupation and apartheid they assert their right to existence within Palestinian society and at the same time they claim their place within the Palestinian struggle for national liberation.
In this they are following in the footsteps of that other great struggle against apartheid – the struggle against Apartheid South Africa. Resistance fighters who were also gay, such as Simon Nkoli, won the respect of their heterosexual co-fighters, and from there moved to a recognition within the ANC and eventually in the country’s very constitution.
The strong presence of gay and lesbian activists in the international solidarity movement was another factor. We should also remember that that international boycott campaign included a boycott of gay contacts as well as sporting, tourist, trade, religious, scientific and academic contacts.
And that is where we come into the picture. The international movement of solidarity with Palestine - and that includes gay, lesbian and queer solidarity - must remain uncompromising in its opposition to Apartheid Israel. At the same time we must give our full solidarity to our Palestinian gay, lesbian and transgender brothers and sisters in their struggles within Palestinian society as may be requested by them. It is through this double act of solidarity that we can help Palestinians realise both national and gay/lesbian liberation.
Alex Kane has kindly given me permission to reproduce items from his blog, and this one is absolutely a "must read - must listen to " posting.
You will not be disappointed!
The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is committed to supporting Israel's thuggish right-wing government--no matter how much land is confiscated from Palestinians, no matter how many homes are bulldozed, and no matter how many Palestinians are killed. And, it appears, AIPAC's support of violence also applies to the U.S.
Rae Abileah, a Jewish-American activist with CODEPINK and Jewish Voice for Peace and who is of Israeli descent, interrupted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress yesterday. She shouted: "No more occupation! Stop Israel war crimes! Equal rights for Palestinians! Occupation is indefensible!" She was tackled by members of AIPAC, and was subsequently hospitalized and then arrested.
From the CODEPINK press release:
Police arrested CODEPINK peace activist Rae Abileah at the George Washington University Hospital in Washington DC. Abileah was taken to the hospital after having been assaulted and tackled to the ground by AIPAC members of the audience in the House Gallery during Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
Abileah interrupted Netanyahu with a banner that said “Occupying Land Is Indefensible” and shouting, “No more occupation, stop Israel war crimes, equal rights for Palestinians, occupation is indefensible.” She rose up to speak out just after the Prime Minister talked about the youth around the world rising up for more democracy.
As this 28-year-old Jewish American woman spoke out for the human rights of Palestinians, other members of the audience—wearing badges from the conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee—brutally attacked her. The police then dragged her out of the Gallery and took her to the George Washington University Hospital, where she was being treating for neck and shoulder injuries.
“I am in great pain, but this is nothing compared to the pain and suffering that Palestinians go through on a regular basis,” said Abileah from her hospital bed. “I have been to Gaza and the West Bank, I have seen Palestinians homes bombed and bulldozed, I have talked to mothers whose children have been killed during the invasion of Gaza, I have seen the Jewish-only roads leading to ever-expanding settlements in the West Bank. This kind of colonial occupation cannot continue. As a Jew and a U.S. citizen, I feel obligated to rise up and speak out against stop these crimes being committed in my name and with my tax dollars.”
Abileah explained that she stands in solidarity with the Palestinian and Israeli activists who are routinely jailed and beaten for speaking out for democracy.
Watch Abileah's interview with Democracy Now! this morning:
The following article appeared in The Age on 6 July 2011. The Age, of course, supports Senator Boswell and attacks the Greens, because Fairfax journalists have been well represented in the groups who go on junkets to Israel paid for, or supported by The AIJAC in Australia. Participants have included Gillard, Rudd and members of both major political parties in federal parliament. They all profess undying love for Israel - what arms deals do Israel and Australia do with each other?
GREENS Leader Bob Brown has failed to ''put his money where his mouth is'' by voting against a Senate motion condemning a boycott of Israel, a policy supported by new senator Lee Rhiannon, according to the Nationals' Ron Boswell.
Senator Rhiannon, one of four new Greens in the Senate, backed a Sydney local council and New South Wales Greens position for a boycott of Israel.
Senator Brown called the policy ''a mistake'', saying it cost votes at March's NSW state election. ''It's not our policy and won't be,'' Senator Brown said in April.
A motion by Senator Boswell that ''condemns the boycott of Israel instigated by Marrickville Council'' passed the Senate with the support of Labor and the Coalition. The Greens voted against it.
''Senator Brown had the opportunity to put his money where his mouth was and instead he chose to vote with his extremist colleague Lee Rhiannon, a known supporter of the boycott,'' Senator Boswell said. ''Brown has failed to pull her into line. By failing to support this motion Senator Brown has failed at the first hurdle.''
The motion also recognised Israel as a legitimate and democratic state and ''a good friend of Australia''.
Senator Brown was unavailable for comment last night.RICHARD WILLINGHAM
This report was received via Mondoweiss - from Palestine News Network
It should be noted that the complaint filed in South Africa was by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies and NOT the South African Zionist Federation!
Johannesburg - PNN - Earlier this week in a bold statement against Israel, South Africa’s media watchdog the 'Advertising Standards Agency’ (ASA), dismissed complaints relating to an advert of 5fm radio that called for a boycott of Israel while comparing Israel to Apartheid South Africa.
The advert aired in South Africa in February this year, starred Dave Randall, lead guitarist of the band Faithless, where he stated: ‘Twenty years ago I would not have played in apartheid South Africa; today I refuse to play in Israel. Be on the right side of history. Don’t entertain apartheid. Join the international boycott of Israel.’
As a result an official complaint was filed to ASA by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), expressing that the adverts claim that Israel was an Apartheid State was ‘untrue, not supported by any evidence… and contains a lie which amounts to false propaganda.’
This week the ASA completely dismissed every complaint made by SAJBD against the advert.
Reggae DJ ‘The Admiral’ and active member of South Africa Artists Against Apartheid – the advert was originally created in support of the organisation – said that: ‘The ASA decision is significant due to our own history of Apartheid. The decision sends a clear message to the Zionist lobby that the time has come for an end to the baseless accusations of “discrimination” and “hate speech” whenever criticism of Israel is voiced. Calling Israel an Apartheid state is legitimate because Israel practices Apartheid. The boycott of such an oppressive regime should be supported as it was in our own Anti-Apartheid freedom struggle.’
Palestinian solidarity groups in South Africa and across the globe have strongly supported this ruling. Many claim that this ruling shows there is a clear legal basis that evidence is available to legitimately claim Israel is practising Apartheid or/and polices that could be linked and associated with Apartheid.
On 9 July 2011 the ABC TV channel 2 showed Woody Allen's 1979 film Manhattan. I had fogotten how very funny so much of the dialogue was, but one particularly funny - and pertinent - line is the one quoted below after the earlier item which I found online when looking for more on Woody Allen's writings about his mother and his upbringing in New York.n+1 The Magazine
An article from the magazine called n+1 on 20 March 2005 was a film review on Woody Allen, and the paragraph quoted below is part of that essay. It is supported by one of Woody Allen’s funniest lines from his 1979 film Manhattan and which is so pertinent to 21st century US-Israeli politics.
The line is shown after the quote from the essay.By Christian Lorentzen
Castration anxiety pervades the films of Woody Allen. It starts in the womb. In Deconstructing Harry (1997) he plays the author of a short story about his mother entitled “The Castrating Zionist.” In Allen’s panel of the triptych New York Stories (1989) his mother is magically and terrifyingly installed in the sky above Manhattan, where nothing he does escapes her watchful eye.
Isaac Davis: Years ago I wrote this short story about my Mother called "The Castrating Zionist" – From Woody Allen’s film Manhattan ,1979, in which he plays Isaac Davis.
It was known before Israel became a state in 1948 and it has been known ever since - Israel was NEVER going to permit a Palestinian state next to it.
Everything that the state of Israel has done since 1948, despite its mealy-mouthed statements about a two-state solution, this was never going to happen and now, in 2011, the reality on the ground is that a two-state solution is impossible.
It is amazing that people as diverse in their zionist politics as Colin Rubenstein (The Age 22 August 2011)and Larry Stillman and Harold Zwier(The Age 15 August 2011) still talk as if the creation of a Palestinian state (or not) was a feasible option.
The only possible solution to the Israel-made intractable solution to the Palestine situation is for there to be ultimately one secular state of Israel/Palestine in which the two populations will live as one people as is slowly happening in the racially divided South Africa of the apartheid years and beyond.
Israel has allowed itself to become a theocracy - it was never a true democracy in any sense because the religious groups always have held sway in the Knesset, no matter which side of politics was the major party - the religious parties were always needed in coalition to achieve government.
Now in 2011, despite the huffing and puffing by Abbas and the Palestinians for a Palestinian state, should such an entity come into existence, an independent Palestine would be that in name only, still entirely controlled by Israel. The Palestinian people would still be denied the human rights supposedly guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights soon after that "august" body was established.
Until the United States of America ceases to support unreservedly, the existence of the state of Israel, and to support it with billions of dollars of aid every year, the middle east wars will continue and the peace which so many in the world desire will not occur.
Meanwhile back in Australia the zionists hold sway because the zionist Age supports Israel and never queries the rights of the Palestinian people who are demonised endlessly and never given the same rights of responses in the paper that the zionist are given.
More shame to a once great newspaper that it should travel down the road of lies and prevarication which is so prevalent in the Australian zionist communities.THIS LETTER IN THE AGE ON 24 AUGUST 2011 SAYS IT ALL!! - AND AT LEAST THE LETTER-WRITER GOT IT INTO THE PAPER - EVEN THOUGH IT IS AT THE TAIL END OF THE LETTERS!
zionists who are so afraid to publicly identify themselves - what are they afraid of???
I was led to a blog because I did a search for a letter-writer to The Age who DOES have the courage of his convictions by signing his name at the bottom of his letter. It seems that this particular zionist, whose blog is called THE BLANK PAGES OF THE AGE was making an attack on this particular letter-writer over his anti-zionist letter in The Age which so outraged the anonymous blogger.
How pathetic is this person!!
Also how pathetic that this rabid zionist not only hides behind his anonymity but also lives in Australia and does not call Ashkelon home!!
SUBMISSION TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF VICTORIA’S GAY, LESBIAN,BISEXUAL,TRANSGENDER (GLBT) REFERENCE GROUP TO INVESTIGATE ISSUES SURROUNDING VILIFICATION,DISCRIMINATION AND MENTAL HEALTH CONCERNS FACED BY MEMBERS OF VICTORIA’S JEWISH GLBT COMMUNITYFrom Mannie De Saxe, (Member of Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne)
This submission is divided into specific sections to address particular issues, but the main purpose is to show how homophobic many in the Australian Jewish communities are and to show that discrimination continues unabated while many people and groups in Australia and around the world are busy learning that homosexuality and heterosexuality are as related to each other as left-handed and right-handed are, as well as blue-eyed and brown-eyed.
The word homophobia is recent although its actions are centuries old. The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1990) defines homophobia as a hatred or fear of homosexuals. The most common term of abuse in Australia and used universally for any number of reasons but mostly to abuse homosexuals is the word “poofter”. This is vilification writ large and for those trying to come to terms with their sexuality it is so hurtful that many particularly young people find they cannot cope and commit or try to commit suicide.
This part of the tragedy of gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV (GLTH) members of our communities is one that is not sufficiently recorded because very often the causes of the suicide can not be pinned down to specific reasons.
Religious communities selectively quote sections of a book written by old men some thousands of years ago as having meaning in 2011 and as being their reasons for their hatred of homosexuals. However homosexuals are usually born to heterosexual people, so the words in that old book are totally irrelevant.
1) Kitty Fischer
The following item refers to a person who was Jewish but not lesbian. Her story is told by Konrad Kwiet in an interesting essay published in a book from Melbourne University Press some 10 or so years ago.
Kitty Fischer who died in 2001 was an Auschwitz child Holocaust survivor. Kitty arrived in Auschwitz with her parents and younger sister in 1944. They had been transported from their home in Czechoslovakia and on arrival at Auschwitz the parents were separated from their two daughters who never saw their parents again.
Kitty was in her early teens and her sister a few years younger and she told the story of their survival as being achieved by a man with a pink triangle which Kitty thought was another religion because the Jews wore their yellow stars. This man brought food to the two girls which helped them survive and when a working group was being put together to go to a clothing factory outside Auschwitz he persuaded them to say they were seamstresses and they were selected.
Kitty and her sister survived those last few months before they were liberated but she never found out what happened to the man with the pink triangle. They eventually managed to get to Australia where they lived until their deaths in the latter part of the last century and the beginning of this century.
When Kitty was living in Sydney during her last 15 or so years of life she remembered the man with the pink triangle by becoming involved with the care of gay men who were dying of AIDS. She also became a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial Project, and when it was completed and its dedication took place in Green Park in Sydney’s Darlinghurst in 2001, Kitty was there in her wheelchair. This was the last event in which she was involved and she died of leukemia a few months later.
As someone who had suffered so terribly in her lifetime from discrimination, and hatred, Kitty understood that the GLTH communities were suffering from much the same prejudices and abuse that she had suffered as a young Jew living in German-occupied Europe during the Second World War. She did her best to reduce that discrimination as much as she was able within her limited resources. She will be long remembered.
2) Parents of Jewish Lesbians and Gays UK
The stories below are from the United Kingdom but apply equally to Australia where many young people experienced similar horrors from their “loving” Jewish parents:
A Mother’s story (about 1998)
My daughter left home at 19 to (as I found out later) find herself! Some time later she came home for a weekend and asked if she could speak to me without her father being present. I guessed something was wrong and immediately asked if she was on drugs or was she pregnant? She denied both of these and I then asked her if she was gay.
By this time she was crying her eyes out and could only nod and asked how I had guessed. We fell into each others arms and both of us cried buckets. I told her that nothing had changed and that she was still our daughter and that we loved her very much.
After about 20 minutes, during which we just hugged and cried, she said she was so happy as I hadn't pushed her away or disowned her as many of her friends' parents had with their children. She then went out for a cigarette and to calm herself down and I went to tell her Dad! He just cried and asked me two questions:-
"Does that mean I won't be able to cuddle her anymore?" and "Does that mean I will never walk her down the aisle?"
From London Jewish News 19 June 1998
Katrin Levy hears of a group of parents trying to come to terms with the homosexuality of their children:
What would you do if one of your children looked you in the face and told you he/she was gay? Some parents react with anger and throw their children out of the house.Others fight to come to terms with their feelings of embarrassment. "A gay child is the same person they were yesterday," says Myrna Julius, one of organisers behind a support group of Jewish Parents of Gays and Lesbians (JPGL). "The only difference is their sexual preference.
And this from a Melbourne Jew about the same issue:
Henry Herzog says in Galus Australis:November 6, 2009
I really feel for those Jewish homosexuals who were brought up in orthodox homes but once they became aware of their sexuality, they were rejected by the parents and community. That is truly heartbreaking.
3) Jewish, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, HIV
Many Australians who are Jewish and gay, lesbian, transgender, HIV are on public record as a combination of these descriptors and their life stories are as interesting as their careers:
The following article was published in The Age newspaper on 8 January 2003:
The Jewish Museum aims to represent diversity in a new exhibition, writes Suzanne Carbone.
He is a Jewish man without a home and knows isolation and loneliness. The fact that he is gay adds another element, but because he is an artist he can depict such feelings.
The Jewish Museum of Australia intends to share his experiences and will hold, for the first time, an exhibition to coincide with Midsumma - Melbourne's gay and lesbian festival.
The works by gay Jewish artist Sam Schoenbaum, 55, reflect his peripatetic life and pay tribute to gay Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
The St Kilda museum's director, Helen Light, is nervous about how the exhibition will be accepted and does not want to offend Orthodox Jews, but is adamant that the museum has to reflect community diversity.
"Homosexuality is not acceptable within Orthodox Judaism and yet there are a lot of Jews in our community who are gay," Dr Light said. "Our museum is about representing the community, not saying how people should live but how people do live."
The exhibition, Strangers & Sojourners, runs from January 21 to February 9.
The museum has held exhibitions by gay artists, but Schoenbaum's is the first dealing with homosexuality.
Schoenbaum, an internationally renowned abstract and conceptual artist, is based in Melbourne but has no fixed address or phone. He was born in a displaced person's camp in Austria in 1947 and moved to Melbourne in 1951. His art career took off when he was 27 and his works are now in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, the National Gallery of Victoria, and the Jewish Museum of Australia.
Exhibition coordinator Eugene Barilo von Reisberg said both he and Schoenbaum were amazed and jubilant that the Jewish Museum agreed to present an exhibition in conjunction with Midsumma.
"I wanted to have the best gay Jewish artist that there is in Australia and Sam is the one because he is a respected and professional artist," said Mr von Reisberg, manager of the Charles Nodrum Gallery, which is supporting the exhibition.
Schoenbaum's work has imagery of pink triangles, suggesting persecution of gays. The exhibition was not welcomed yesterday by Rabbi Yitzhak Groner of the Yeshivah Centre, who said: "I am totally against it."
But Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn, of the St Kilda Hebrew Congregation, said the museum was an independent organisation and ran exhibitions as it saw fit. "The Torah, the basis of Jewish law and life, clearly speaks against homosexuality," he said. "Therefore, from where we sit, we wouldn't be involving ourself in the exhibition."
In Carlisle Street, St Kilda, yesterday Yoram Raz, 24, from South Caulfield, said: "It's OK for him to be who he is as an artist, but I don't understand what drives people to have gay relationships."
Student Netz Goren, 28, from Israel, said Jewish law was outdated and he supported the exhibition. A woman who described herself as deeply religious said the museum's stance would cause a stir "not just among the Orthodox community but among some of the elderly ladies who work at the museum as volunteers".
Michael Barnett, convenor of Aleph Melbourne, a support group for gay and bisexual Jewish men, believes the wider Jewish community will support the exhibition. "Unless the art is controversial I don't see what the issue is," he said.
I am making this submission because if those of us who believe the JCCV is irrelevant don’t make some publicity about the issues then indeed nothing in the Jewish communities will ever change.
4) Jewish leaders and homophobia
Items like the following story reported on the ABC do not show organizations such as JCCV in a very favourable light and their attempt to create a secret Reference Group to address homophobia and its related ills and which has had no publicity and whose members remain a closely guarded secret do not inspire confidence that anything dramatic will come from people making submissions at this stage.
Alison Caldwell reported this story on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 18:34:00 ABC programme PM on Radio National
MARK COLVIN (Presenter of Radio National’s PM) A rift is developing in Australia’s Jewish community over the treatment of homosexuals.
A major gay and lesbian support group claims Jewish community leaders are ignoring discrimination and hate language aimed at homosexuals. It wants Jewish representative bodies to come up with a clear policy upholding gay rights.
Alison Caldwell reports.ALISON CALDWELL: When two young people were shot dead in Tel Aviv last month at a gay and lesbian youth centre, Melbourne-based Michael Barnett wanted nothing more than for the leaders of the Australian Jewish community to take a stand against violence towards homosexuals. But he says his calls for action fell on deaf ears.
MICHAEL BARNETT: The Israeli leadership, the Prime Minister, the President of Israel, they spoke out against intolerance and hatred and said you know, everyone deserves respect.
Yet in Melbourne where there is the family of one of the two people killed, there wasn't even a single statement from the community leaders.
ALISON CALDWELL: He says the silence from the Jewish leadership was symptomatic of a much deeper problem.
MICHAEL BARNETT: There's a lot of intolerance of gay people in the Jewish people. Calling gay people perverted and disgusting, comparing gay people to people who commit incest or bestiality, there's all this language that gets used from people like some rabbis in the orthodox world who speak out against gay people.
ALISON CALDWELL: Michael Barnett is the coordinator of Aleph Melbourne, a support group for homosexual people in the Jewish community. He believes representative groups are afraid to express their support for homosexuals for fear of offending ultra-orthodox groups in the community.
MICHAEL BARNETT: I want every state and national Jewish peak body in Australia to have a specific, unambiguous policy addressing the persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews in regard to homophobic hate and intolerance, irrespective of whether it originates from outside or inside the Jewish community.
The policies must be enforced with the same zero tolerance afforded to anti-Semitism and holocaust rhetoric and other hate crimes.
ALISON CALDWELL: Much of his anger is levelled at a Jewish blog which recently described homosexuality as "depravity and debasement" and extolled the virtues of reprogramming homosexuals.
In July, a Sydney rabbi wrote to the Australian Jewish News, comparing homosexual intercourse with adultery, bestiality and incest.
JOHN SEARLE: If it's a matter that's guided by religious laws, then those laws will presumably be applied. Now I can't say very much about those because I'm not an expert in those areas.
ALISON CALDWELL: John Searle is the president of the Jewish Community Council in Victoria. It describes itself as the roof body of Victorian Jewry. On its website, it says it shows zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism and racism but it has nothing to say about supporting or protecting gay or lesbian people within the Jewish community.
JOHN SEARLE: If we need to rewrite a policy that was written some time ago, we can certainly look at that and if it needs to be adjusted in any way, we can adjust that.
ALISON CALDWELL: John Searle says he's against vilification of any sort.
JOHN SEARLE: The JCCV has issued statements condemning vilification of all minority groups, including vilification based on grounds of sexual orientation, sexual preference.
ALISON CALDWELL: He says the council has sought advice from numerous sources on how to be more inclusive and will invite gay and lesbian support groups to events in the future.
Michael Barnett says it's not enough.
MICHAEL BARNETT: Lip service, motherhood statements, platitudes, rhetoric, anything but "yes, we're going to do this and take it seriously".
JOHN SEARLE: I reject the allegation or assertion that inviting people to participate in community events is simply lip service.
ALEX FEIN: My blog is called The Sensible Jew.
ALISON CALDWELL: Jewish blogger Alex Fein has written about the issue in recent weeks. She says the vast majority of Jews support homosexuals and describes those who don't as minority extremists. But she says groups like the Jewish Community Council of Victoria need to be more proactive.
ALEX FEIN: It's not enough to say that homophobia is problematic. I think all people of good faith would like to see concrete action.
MARK COLVIN: Alex Fein the author of the blog known as the sensiblejew.wordpress.com, ending Alison Caldwell's report.
5) Lists of Australian and International people who are known to be Jewish and Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, HIVLists below show many people who are well known locally and overseas and whose activities identify them publicly as Jewish as well as gay, lesbian, transgender, or people living with HIV.
PEOPLE WHO LIVE, OR HAVE LIVED IN AUSTRALIA WHO ARE IDENTIFIED AS JEWISH AND GAY, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDER OR PEOPLE WITH HIV (GLTH):Sam Schoenbaum
to mention a token few!
PEOPLE WHO LIVE, OR HAVE LIVED IN COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD WHO ARE IDENTIFIED AS JEWISH AND GAY, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDER OR PEOPLE WITH HIV (GLTH):Marcel Proust
to mention a small number for this submission.6) Australian Jewish academics and homophobia
In his book, “Defying Gravity – A Political Life”, published by Allen and Unwin in 1997, Dennis Altman wrote (pages 186 and 187):
“AIDS has brought me close to the workings of government – but also to the vagaries of power. Between 1990 and 1992 I was a member of the Australian National Council on AIDS (ANCA), then chaired by Peter Karmel, a distinguished economist and emeritus vice-chancellor of two universities, was another in the string of secular Jews, like Peter Wilenski, Hannah Arendt and Henry Mayer, with whom I have felt particular affinities. I remember him describing the reaction of some of his professorial colleagues when he accepted the role of chief spokesman for the government’s AIDS policies, and his surprise and shock at the depth of homophobia they revealed..”7) The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand
Finally I think it would be a good idea if members of the JCCV read the book by Shlomo Sand called “The Invention of the Jewish People”. It would be revealing to discover the origins of those Jews who are affiliated with this group.
This article was published in newmatilda under the tags Israel/palestine:
Equating the BDS movement with Nazism is both offensive and outrageous. So why aren't members of the Jewish community speaking out on this, asks Antony Loewenstein Joseph Stalin changed his name and so did New South Wales Federal Greens MP Lee Rhiannon.
Stalin, writes Alan Howe, executive editor and columnist with Rupert Murdoch’s Herald Sun, was "perhaps the 20th century’s greatest murderer"
. Rhiannon backs the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and, argues Howe, people should know about "the 1930s where violent protests against Jewish traders may end. It was a colourful time of brownshirts, blackshirts and yellow Stars of David".
In this fashion, Rhiannon is likened to a supporter of fascism and remains "against the only democracy in the Middle East and the one country in which the region’s Arabs are guaranteed safety".
Welcome to the level of debate in Australia over the Israel/Palestine conflict. The last months have seen a litany of public figures that should know better accusing anybody associated with the BDS movement of embracing Nazism, anti-Semitism and outright Jew-hatred. It shames the Australian Jewish establishment that no leading voices have challenged this odious and absurd comparison. Instead, they’ve cheered it on, coordinating nationally, with the support of an Israeli government desperate to distract from its own anti-democratic practices.
The Australian Jewish News has editorialised that boycotting Jewish businesses here will remind Jews of similar Nazi tactics in Germany and Austria in the 1930s. How on earth will the paper cover real anti-Semitism when they so casually compare today’s behaviour to Hitler’s Third Reich?
Back in early July, 19 pro-Palestinian activists were arrested and charged for protesting in front of a Max Brenner chocolate shop in Melbourne. Max Brenner was targeted because its parent company Strauss Group supports elements of the IDF accused of war crimes in both the West Bank and Gaza.
This campaign has continued globally for years. For example, a reader of my website in 2009 sent me a copy of a letter they sent to Max Brenner outlining the reasons the company was a legitimate target for boycott.
The Victorian Government recently continued to threaten the activists with further legal punishment, imprisonment and fines.
Max Brenner’s parent company Strauss Group is an openly political business that proudly states on its Hebrew website that "We see a mission and need to continue to provide our soldiers with support, to enhance their quality of life and service conditions, and sweeten their special moments". Some of these soldiers were directly implicated in war crimes allegations during incursions into the West Bank and the invasion of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009.
In late July, The Australian reported the campaign against the BDS movement in Australia with a story called, "Anti-Jew protest condemned". Federal Labor MP Michael Danby, journalist Jana Wendt and union head Paul Howes met for a hot chocolate inside a Max Brenner shop in Melbourne, condemned the "violent" protest against the shop and again talked about Nazi Germany. Former Labor Party president Warren Mundine was quoted by journalist Leo Shanahan as saying BDS was not "not anti-Israel but anti-Jewish".
Howes said the protesters were "mimicking the behaviour of the Nazi thugs" and it was necessary to "nip this in the bud". Howes said most people who voted for the Greens had no idea how "xenophobic" its policies were. Not one journalist asked him whether he truly believed waving placards outside a shop in Melbourne is akin to the Gestapo arresting and murdering millions of Jews in the gas chambers. And no Jewish leaders took him to task for the comparison.
Last weekend’s article by The Australian’s Cameron Stewart allowed this misperception to perpetuate. Like Shanahan, Stewart quoted Wendt as saying that, "As the daughter of refugees whose lives were critically affected by both fascism and communism, I’m grateful for what Australia has to offer".
A week later, the Victorian Government announced that it was investigating "anti-Israel activists" — by asking the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) if the BDS-ers were breaking federal law by "threatening" Israeli stores.
The state’s Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O’Brien raised the spectre of 20th century attacks on Jewish businesses and claimed BDS was a threat to democratic order. Bizarrely, he singled out the Maritime Union Of Australia, Geelong Trades Hall Council, the Green Left Weekly magazine, Australians for Palestine and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. For the record, Australians for Palestine had nothing to do with the BDS protest against Max Brenner, though they do back BDS.
The Australian followed up with a story recently headlined, "Targeted chocolatier ‘a man of peace’". "Max Brenner says he is a man of peace who hates all forms of violence," the article says. Reporter Cameron Stewart doesn’t mention the serious allegations against the IDF soldiers supported by Max Brenner. (And besides, Max Brenner is the name of the business — not of the company owner. Actually, it’s an amalgam of two names.)
One of the activists interviewed by Stewart, Kim Bullimore, spokesperson for Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, told me that little of what she said to the journalist ended up in the article.
The Australian editorialised further on the matter last week by arguing "for any student of 20th-century history there is something deeply offensive about targeting a Jewish-owned business".
And the Jewish establishment said nothing.
BDS is a peaceful, non-violent movement, like that which campaigned against apartheid South Africa. It aims to put pressure on a state that refuses to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.
What Australian politicians will not acknowledge is the real face of modern Israel. Calling for BDS inside Israel is now illegal. As an Arab member of parliament recently told the New York Times, a member of the Knesset wanted to sue him for simply calling for a boycott against the illegal settlement of Ariel. This is in "democratic" Israel.
With Israel announcing yet more illegal colonies in the West Bank, the international community has a clear choice: engage in empty rhetoric about "democratic" Israel or find alternative ways to target a state with one of the most unequal class systems in the developed world.
Australian politicians and all public figures should be strongly challenged on comparing BDS to fascist hoodlums, and rejected.
The following article was published by Socialist Alternative:
Far-right rallies for Israel on Saturday(L), fascism on Sunday(R). *see note at end of article.
Zionists in Brisbane marched side by side with fascists on Saturday. The two groups have seemingly made an alliance over their support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.
Around 60 pro-Palestine activists took to Brisbane’s popular Southbank café district to protests outside the Israeli-owned Max Brenner chocolate store. Max Brenner has proudly proclaimed its sponsorship of the notoriously brutal Golani and Givati brigades of the Israeli Defence Force, which have carried out massacres of Palestinians.
The first sight we were confronted with as we marched towards the Max Brenner store was a hundred-strong contingent of Zionist counter demonstrators with megaphone-wielding members of the Australian Patriotic Defence Movement (APDM), a fascist organisation, on the front line. This alliance of fascists and Israel supporters then proceeded to spew forth a tirade of abuse.
The next day, these self-same APDM fascists assembled for the second racist rally that they have called in as many weeks in Brisbane’s King George Square. The same people who dared to accuse us of being Nazis and “holocaust supporters” the day before were revealed as actual Nazis at a demonstration where they claimed Muslims are ruining our “Australian way of life” and called for the burqa to be banned, spouting racist filth for hours, whilst proudly displaying the Israeli flag.
Contemptibly, the Zionist counter-rally on Saturday was given the full backing of the state, with the police giving them free rein to assemble. Meanwhile, the cops actively prevented our demonstration, for which they had issued a permit, from approaching the store and corralled us in a tiny space around the back of the venue.
The behaviour of the Brisbane police is entirely consistent with the actions of the Australian state which backs Israel to the hilt. The state has tried to silence the pro-Palestine campaign not only through lies, and accusations of anti-Semitism but also repression, as seen in the recent arrests of 19 activists at a demonstration against Max Brenner in Melbourne.
The rally took place at the end of a week of rabid campaigning by the media, the Labor Party and Liberal Nationals politicians in the Queensland senate. They have attempted to paint Palestine supporters as anti-Jewish and to discredit the campaign against Max Brenner by likening it to blockades of Jewish businesses in Nazi Germany.
On Saturday and Sunday, the real fascists were out on the streets and it was clear whose side they’re on – and who is supporting them.
The confidence the Zionists feel to defend an apartheid state is the confidence of those who know the establishment is on their side. Yet the fact that the Zionists have been compelled to organise a large mobilisation to defend Max Brenner and Israel also demonstrates their fear that the BDS campaign is bringing attention to the plight of Palestinians. They know that the thin veil of respectability that Israel and the companies that support it shield themselves in is being pulled away.
We must take heart from this and redouble our efforts in Brisbane to build a strong pro-Palestine campaign.* Image note. The same person on the magaphone on the left (at the anti-Palestine rally alongside Zionists) is also pictured the following day at an Australian Patriotic Defence League rally. He was one of a number of APDL members who attended and spoke at both protests. None among the anti-BDS protesters objected to the presence of these fascists in their ranks.
The following was received by email:
The Victorian Trades Hall Council (the peak union body in Victoria) Executive passed the following positive motion in support of the BDS campaign as well as condemning the police attacks on protesters.
This is a really welcome step forward and we hope that the campaign can continue to garner more support from unions across the country,Yours
The motion is written below.:
That VTHC Executive Council reaffirms its long standing policies relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict namely:Its support for the BDS Campaign and Palestinian statehood.
Council notes that in recent weeks the Israeli Knesset passed the anti-boycott bill making it illegal for Israelis to call for boycotts in response to the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian land, mandated to them by the UN. We note the recent spate of rallies, public meetings and debate organised by Israeli citizens in response to a number of issues including the Knesset's new law, demanding that it be rescinded.
Council notes the potential involvement of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in industrial and political disputes. This would be an aggressive smokescreen aimed at stifling legitimate industrial and political activity by unions and other organisations behind a facade of protecting business interests. Executive Council notes the most recent officials to be threatened with ACCC intervention Kevin Bracken of the MUA and Tim Gooden of Geelong Trades Hall Council, in relation to speeches at a BDS rally. Hence Council directs the Secretary to raise our concerns urgently with the ACTU, and to seek a joint approach to the Federal Government to demand the guarantee that the Trades Practices Act will not be used to interfere in the political discourse.
Council notes with concern an increase, in some police regions and around certain political issues, in harsh and violent responses by sections of Victoria Police, in dealing with what are legitimate industrial and political protests over recent months. Council believes the arrest and prosecution of workers demonstrating at Visy Dandenong, and the arrest and prosecution of protesters at a recent BDS Rally in the CBD, indicate a disproportionate escalation of aggressive action by Victoria Police. Council believes that the be completely inconsistent with the principles of Free Speech and the right to peaceful protest.
Therefore Council directs the Secretary to formally lodge a protest with the State Minister for Police, seek a meeting with Police Industrial to discuss any shortfall in police training around behavior at rallies, and to have informal discussions with the Police Association on whether a new, harsh policy on industrial and political demonstrations has been introduced since the last State elections in Victoria.MOVED: Len Cooper
The following is correspondence between the president of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, John Searle, and myself in regard to the secretive members of the Searle-appointed gay, lesbian, transgender, HIV (GLTH) reference group:
Many members of the gay, lesbian, transgender, HIV (GLTH) communities have lived in closets for much of their adult lives. In addition, many GLTH people have been murdered, assaulted, vilified, discriminated against, been subjected to electro-shock treatment to attempt to change their homosexuality to heterosexuality, subjected to police attacks and imprisonment because of their sexual orientation. Many were also kicked out of their homes by families who were not prepared to have such children as part of their households. Jewish families guilty of this sort of abuse often went into self-imposed mourning at the loss of a child.
GLTH people in these situations are not prepared to be scrutinized by groups of people who are anonymous.
GLTH activists will not be pushed back into the closet by those who wish to remain in the closet themselves.
If members of the JCCV’s self-appointed members of a GLTH Reference Group wish to remain unidentified then they are in no position to scrutinize any documentation concerning the problems Jewish members of GLTH people are confronted by on a daily basis.
People who have nowhere to turn are often led in desperation to suicide and that is not a prospect we are willing to permit to continue.
It is in the interests of JCCV to ensure that a group of people who are involved in a reference group to widen the debate within the Victorian Jewish communities of the issues confronting Jewish gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV people on a daily basis are people who are not hiding their identities anonymously and ashamedly.
It is estimated that there are 40,000 people in Victoria who identify as Jewish. It should not be beyond the capabilities of a so-called Jewish Community Council of Victoria to find GLTH people willing to be members of a reference group.
If the JCCV organisation continues with this secrecy then the whole sham of the reference group set-up will need to be publicly exposed.Mannie De Saxe
On 9/14/2011 5:02 PM, John Searle wrote:Hi Mannie,
Sorry it took a few days to get back to you but things have been rather hectic.
The GLBT members of the reference group have at this stage requested that their identities remain undisclosed.
Accordingly, I am not in a position to advise you of their names. I am sure you appreciate the need to respect their confidentiality.Regards
On 12/09/11 10:47 PM, "red-jos"
Please advise the names of the JCCV Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, HIV (GLTH) Reference Group members.Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 1
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 2
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 3
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 4
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 5
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 6
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 7
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 8
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9a
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 9b
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 10
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 11
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 12
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 13
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 14
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 15
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 16
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 17
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 18
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 20
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 21
Jewish and Israel/Palestine Issues Part 22
Mannie and Kendall Present: LESBIAN AND GAY SOLIDARITY ACTIVISMSRED JOS: HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISM
Mannie's blogs may be accessed by clicking on to the following links:
MannieBlog (from 1 August 2003 to 31 December 2005)
Activist Kicks Backs - Blognow archive re-housed - 2005-2009
RED JOS BLOGSPOT (from January 2009 onwards)
This page was created on 15 January 2011 and updated on 26 OCTOBER 2016