Pinkwashing? Gay Rights Shows the Difference Between Israel and Palestinians (COMMENTARY MAGAZINE) Jonathan S. Tobin 04/20/12)
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Some people don’t want to talk about gay rights in the Middle East.
The left calls it “pinkwashing” and treats it as irrelevant to any
analysis of the region. But it remains a fascinating window into two
societies. As the Times of Israel reports, gay Palestinian Arabs are
flocking to supposedly repressive Israel. In the West Bank and Gaza,
they face persecution and death. In Israel, they find freedom.
Palestinian gays not only can’t come out at home. If they want to
meet as a group, the only place they can go is Tel Aviv, where as the
Times of Israel notes, a monthly gathering called the Palestinian
Queer Party convenes. That’s because the repressive Muslim culture
that predominates in the territories considers gays to be anathemas
while Israel is a liberal democracy where, despite deep differences
between various elements of society, people can live and do as they
please. Though the “Israel is apartheid” crowd is at pains to stifle
discussion of the gay angle to the Middle East conflict, it actually
tells you all you need to know about the difference between the two
societies and why hopes for peace need to wait until Palestinians
embrace freedom for their own people as well as coexistence with Jews.
The stories in the Times of Israel piece don’t speak to the national
conflict between Arabs and Jews. But they do speak volumes about one
of the main points Israel’s defenders harp on: the fact that it is
the region’s only true democracy. What the Palestinians have created
for themselves in their independent state in all but name in Gaza and
their autonomous government in the West Bank are two more places on
the globe where human rights are not respected and violence rules.
The connection between the violence the ruling Palestinian groups use
on their own people is not unrelated to the violence they attempt to
inflict on the Israelis. The absence of political freedom makes peace
with Israel a difficult proposition under the best of circumstances.
But the influence of radical Islamist ideology, even in the West Bank
that is supposedly more liberal than Hamas-ruled Gaza, makes it even
more unlikely. That’s why the ability of the Islamist clerics and
their supporters to terrorize gays is an indicator of a lack of
desire for peace.
Israel is a free country, something you wouldn’t know if your only
view of the Jewish state was delivered to you by mainstream media
coverage. The anti-Israel crowd can call mentions of gay
rights “pinkwashing.” But all that means is that they don’t wish to
acknowledge the difference between Israeli and Palestinian cultures.
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