The article “A chronology of the cancelled invitations to gay and lesbian Israelis” (March 30) left out important details. As one of the people who was present when the LGBT Commission made their decision to cancel the StandWithUs event and who later spoke at the City Council hearing in favor of their decision, I would like to fill in some gaps in the JTNews story.
At the Commission meeting on March 15, a group of LGBT Jewish and Palestinian activists urged the commissioners to reconsider their decision. Several Jewish Voice for Peace activists, myself included, explained that while we were not against hearing from individual LGBT Israelis, we could not support a tour backed by StandWithUs and the Israeli consulate.
We explained that this event was part of a larger strategy of pinkwashing, the Islamophobic strategy of positioning Israel as an oasis of gay freedom in the Middle East surrounded by uncivilized and homophobic Arabs, especially Palestinians.
Two Palestinian LGBT activists described how pinkwashing affected them and their communities. The commissioners were moved by their stories (at least two of the commissioners cried), and said that they hadn’t understood that holding this event would marginalize and invisiblize LGBT Palestinians.
Later, at the city council hearing, several Jewish and Palestinian activists spoke in favor of the cancellation, and Stefanie Fox, a Jewish Voice for Peace organizer (not Dean Spade as the JTNews states), presented the letter of 3,500 signatures in support of the cancellation.
Why did the JTNews interview only people who were against the cancellation (Rob Jacobs, the regional director of StandWithUs and Zach Carstensen from the Jewish Federation)? A more balanced article would have included interviews with the Jewish activists (part of a national Jewish peace group of 100,000 supporters) and the Palestinian activists who were in favor of the cancellation.