NYAGRA on the Times of Israel Gala
statement at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel
15 February 2015
I’m a member of New York City Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (NYC QAIA), but I’m hear today speaking as chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy. NYAGRA is a transgender advocacy organization best known for leading the campaign for the transgender rights law enacted by the New York City Council in 2002. But unlike most transgender advocacy organizations, NYAGRA is taking a stand against Israeli occupation and apartheid — the first one in New York to do so. We do so because we understand that Israeli occupation and apartheid are in fact an issue for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, both because there are LGBT Palestinians who face systematic and pervasive discrimination within Israel as well as LGBT Palestinians living under a brutal as well as illegal occupation in the West Bank and Gaza and who have faced what Ilan Pappe (the leading Israeli historian) has called ‘incremental genocide’ in the Gaza Strip. We also take a stand on this issue because of the pernicious influence of the ‘pinkwashing‘ of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. ‘Pinkwashing’ is the attempt to use Israel’s supposedly superior record on LGBT issues to attempt to justify the illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip since 1967. In fact, Israel is far less of a gay paradise than the picture painted by Zionist apologists for its apartheid regime.
I participated in the first U.S. LGBTQ delegation to Palestine in January 2012 and I saw for myself the abysmal conditions to which Palestinians are subjected there. We met with many Palestinians — both LGBT and non-LGBT — throughout the West Bank, from Nablus in the north to Hebron in the south and Ramallah in between. Staying two nights with a Palestinian family in Dheishe in Bethelem, one of the largest refugee camps in the West Bank, I had the opportunity to speak at length with Palestinians about conditions in the occupied territories. We also met with members of alQaws and Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (PQBDS) in Ramallah and Aswat (the organization for queer Palestinian women) in Haifa, and if members of the US LGBT community really want to help queer Palestinians, they should be working with LGBT Palestinian groups rather than helping to pinkwash the occupation. There is no justification whatsoever for the continued occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem or the apartheid regime under which the Israeli government is pursuing the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population of the occupied territories, much less for the incremental genocide in Gaza. And so we in NYAGRA condemn the Times of Israel’s shameful celebration of apartheid Israel. Thank you.
Pauline Park is chair of the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA). She was a member of the first U.S. LGBTQ delegation to Palestine in January 2012.