Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Israel/Palestine: Pride Against Injustice

After Pride Toronto banned the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid from taking part last month, comes news that Madrid Pride have told an official delegation from Tel Aviv they are not welcome because authorities in the city have not condemned the raid on the Free Gaza Flotilla.
But whereas Pride Toronto said they didn't want politics to rain on their parade, Madrid Pride made their decision as they still see Pride as a political event.
Antonio Poveda, of Spain's Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transexuals and Bisexuals, told El Mundo newspaper; "After what has happened, and as human rights campaigners, it seemed barbaric to us to have them taking part. We don't just defend our own little patch."
A report on Guardian Unlimited today does not mention that the delegation was official and organised in conjunction with the Israeli Tourist Board, who were to have a Tel Aviv themed party, and a bus bearing the slogan "TLV Love Embassy".
This makes it seems like a hysterical over reaction by pro-Palestinians against innocent and politically neutral "Tel Aviv residents".
It wasn't.
In an article in The Jewish Chronicle on Monday, Shai Deutsch, the Israel Gay and Lesbian Association's Tourism chief is quoted as saying; “There is no doubt that our presence there, together with the European campaign will contribute to a significant increase in gay tourism in Tel Aviv this coming winter.”
It's part of a broader campaign - both economic and political - to try and improve the image abroad of the Israeli thug-state.
This process has been dubbed "pinkwash".
El Mundo and The Guardian also quote Eytan Schwartz, a spokesperson for Tel Aviv.
In the interests of balance Schwartz got 165 words on GU to Poveda's 26.
Schwartz said; "We invited the organisers of the gay pride event in Madrid to join a march this Friday in Tel Aviv, the only place in the Middle East where you can be gay in public."
In August 2009, a gunman killed two people at the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association Centre. The killer has not been found.
In 2005, an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed three participants in the Jerusalem gay pride parade. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that "several bombs [have been] set off to protest Jerusalem Gay Pride parades in previous years."

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