There is a very interesting post up on Jews Sans Frontieres which notes that the long-time gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, has signed a letter publicly supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel and criticising Israel for ‘pinkwashing’ or trying to portray itself as a progressive state on the back of its policies towards LGBT people.
This development is particularly interesting because, as Jews Sans Frontieres note, prominent Zionist journalists including Nick Cohen and rabidly pro-Israel websites such as Harry’s Place have long sought to draw Tatchell into their circle. McCarthy’s Place have been strangely silent about Tatchell’s BDS endorsement.
I have met Peter Tatchell a couple of times while we were both on the same speaking platforms. And although I disagree with him on how to deal with the likes of Shaykh Qaradawi, there is no doubting that he is an extremely brave and principled campaigner. I have been told by a number of people that he also has an extremely modest lifestyle and has lived in the same one bedroom flat for decades now.
Anyway, bravo to Peter for taking this stand on behalf of the Palestinians. The Israel worshipers are not going to be pleased at all by his latest actions. Here is the letter in full:
February brings events marking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month, and London will host this summer’s WorldPride Festival, four decades on from the Gay Liberation Front’s first Gay Pride events. Simultaneous and overlapping with the civil rights, anti-apartheid and Women’s Liberation movements, GLF also drew inspiration from the national liberation struggles of people freeing themselves from colonialism. The LGBT rights we now celebrate originate in the groundbreaking work of that era.
How ironic it would be if, in an attempt to gain a veneer of respectability by promoting itself as a liberal, tolerant haven for gay people and a prime gay holiday destination, an oppressive regime which routinely violates human rights, practises institutional racism and dispossesses an indigenous population tried to co-opt that progress.
As long-term advocates of LGBT and women’s rights, some of whom created the first Gay Pride events, we wish to express our concern at the cynical hijacking of those rights by Israel’s ‘pinkwashing’ PR campaign. The specious freedoms enjoyed by some Israeli gay people and visitors to Tel Aviv’s nightclubs bear no more relation to real equality than did the privileges accorded white people during South African apartheid. Pinkwashing tries to divert attention from the untold suffering caused by Israel’s subjection of the Palestinians to siege, bombardment, military occupation, ethnic cleansing, land theft, settler violence, killings (180 in 2011 alone), imprisonment, forced exile, the crushing of economic, educational and social infrastructure and denial of legitimate aspirations to self-determination.
We write in solidarity with Palestinian LGBT and civil society organisations who initiated the burgeoning global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to bring pressure to bear upon Israel until it complies with international law, and endorse their insistence on the universality of human rights. We invite all who share our abhorrence of Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians to observe the boycott of Israeli tourism and goods, and hope that LGBT people encountering pinkwashing will take pride in remembering the roots of our campaigning history and support the Palestinian quest for justice.
Frankie Green, Mary McIntosh, Peter Tatchell, Stuart Feather, Miriam Margolyes O.B.E., Pratibha Parmar, Linda Bellos O.B.E., Rumana Hashem, Jane Lane, Sarah Colborne, Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Professor Oishik Sircar