An academic conference planned for next year in New York will use Israel’s largely positive record on gay rights to denounce its treatment of Palestinians.The official description of the conference is a must-read for its pretentious tone and sheer vacuity.
City University of New York last week announced Homonationalism and Pinkwashing, a gathering that will provide “an opportunity to examine Queer Resistance and Complicity globally” — but with a special emphasis on Israel. Hosted by CUNY’s Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, the conference will take Israel to task for “pinkwashing,” a term that accuses the country of promoting its progressive treatment of sexual minorities as a way of diverting attention from its conflict with the Palestinians. “Faced with intensifying criticism and the threat of economic boycott,” the conference website states, “the Israeli government expanded their marketing plan by harnessing Homonationalism to reposition its global image.”
Based on the list of proposed topics, conference organizers don’t plan to examine the persecution of gays in the Muslim world, except as it pertains to generating Islamophobia and to “justify military assault” in Iraq and Iran.
Coordinating the gathering is Sarah Schulman, a humanities professor at CUNY’s College of Staten Island. Schulman raised the profile of the “pinkwashing” accusation last fall in a controversial New York Times op-ed, in which she argued that Israel’s “gay soldiers and the relative openness of Tel Aviv” shouldn’t be used to distract attention from “the Palestinians’ insistence on a land to call home.”
Scheduled speakers include Berkeley professor Judith Butler, a veteran of Israeli Apartheid Week, and Haneen Maikey, the director of Palestinian LGBT group alQaws.
AlQaws, which appears to hold its recurring “Palestinian queer party“ in Israel, is headquartered in Jerusalem Open House, a gay center in the Jewish-majority part of the city.
The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies is pleased to announce a conference “Homonationalism and Pinkwashing” to be held April 10-11, 2013 at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all configurations around the world have always experienced dramatic differences in representation and power. Today, after generations of sacrifice and organization, some LGBT people have won full legal rights with different degrees of implementation. Once hard to imagine, protection from discrimination, full relationship recognition, and inclusion in representation are now daily possibilities for some. In the United States, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have been invited into an equality defined, not by rights, but by the ability to participate openly in immoral wars. The co-opting of some LGBT people by anti-immigrant and in particular anti-Muslim political forces is widespread and growing. Rutgers Professor Jasbir Puar has coined the term “Homonationalism” to define collusion between LGBT people and identification with the nation state, re-enforcement of racial and national boundary, and systems of supremacy ideology no longer interrupted by homophobia. Homonationalism has spread far from its roots in European xenophobia and US militarism to become an increasingly potent tool in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Faced with intensifying criticism and the threat of economic boycott, the Israeli government expanded their marketing plan by harnessing Homonationalism to reposition its global image. The campaign intended "to improve Israel's image through the gay community in Israel," The Jerusalem Post quoted one government supporter of the campaign. This deliberate and highly funded program is what anti-occupation activists have named "Pinkwashing."The campaign not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel's gay rights movement, but it also ignores the existence of Palestinian gay-rights organizations. These groups rightly note that the oppression of Palestinians crosses the boundary of sexuality; as Haneen Maikay, a keynote speaker at our conference and the director of Al Qaws:For Gender and Sexual Diversity in Palestinian Society, said in a recent lecture tour in the United States, "When you go through a checkpoint it does not matter what the sexuality of the soldier is."
Homonationalism and Pinkwashing mark a crucial turning point for Queer Scholars and Activists. This conference provides an opportunity to examine Queer Resistance and Complicity globally, in all of their complexities, with a political maturity that acknowledges the responsibility of access, the activism of necessity, the potential and impossible communities, identifications, solidarities, unities and consequential calls for action. Acknowledging these conditions make it imperative for Activists and Scholars to convene and bring together the theoretical and the applied, repositioning our resources to focus on a rejuvenated Queer future, movement, movements, efforts, actions, organizing and focus towards a vision of freedom that finally includes us all.
Do you get that? Do you see how a nation that doesn't discriminate against gays is to be held accountable by gays because some of its soldiers are gay? Do you understand how the entire concept of national boundaries is inherently immoral? Finally, do you understand that when Activists and Scholars capitalize certain Words, they show how vitally Critical their pretentious and self-contradictory Ideas are?
But wait - it gets better!
Possible topics we would love to include but are not limited to:
-Expanding our understandings of Queer Resistance and Complicity
-Hindus, Islamaphobia and Queer Emergence [apparently some Queer Adacemics cannot Spell]
-Arab Jews (Mizrachis) and Occupation/Pinkwashing/Diaspora
-Iran, Iraq and the Use of anti-LGBT Persecution to Justify Military Assault
-Transfeminism and the Global LGBT
-Race, Sexuality and the US Military
-Queer and The Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions Movement
-Christian Evangelicals: Differing strategies for Uganda and Israel
-The rise of LGBT wings of European Right Wing Movements
-HRC, GLAAD, and the Gay Corporate Auxilliaries [Again!]
-AIDS, NGO’s and Partnering With Global Pharma
-Homonationalism, Hollywood and Popular Culture
-Pinkwashing and Israeli Queer Cinema
"Pinkwashing" and "homonationalism" as such catchy terms. We need to create a new term to describe people who want to use their sexual orientation as a means to bash states that support them and to support states that bash them.