Black Lies about Israeli Pinkwashing
Jennifer Lynn Kelly is another scholar who seemingly knows little about that about which she writes. In her new article that was published in January 2020, she writes about pinkwashing. She titled it: “Israeli gay tourist initiatives and the (in)visibiity of state violence“. Pinkwashing was originally coined to label businesses that advertised their (carcinogenic) products while claiming to support cancer research or patients. And now the term is used to accuse Israel of whitewashing its human rights abuses of ‘Palestinians’ by branding itself as gay-friendly and safe. As Kelly writes:
Gay tourist initiatives in Israel avoid the visibility of the occupation while implicitly justifying it, eclipse certain images of militarism while celebrating others, and legitimate Israeli state violence and settler-colonialism by rewriting them as security and defense. [emphasis added] (page 160)
I suggest that academics who would like their work to be taken seriously once all this Jew-hate-filled-Israel-bashing period will be in the past reconsider their regurgitation of the tired old phrase, ‘Israeli state violence and settler-colonialism’. They would be well served by examining the actual definition of ‘settler colonialism’ and provide evidence of what they mean by Israeli state violence. It has reached the point where they merely have to write the phrase and other scholars of their ilk nod their heads in sad agreement at the horrors the poor Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians suffer under Israel. One day, all the masses of articles they will have produced will be scorned and studies will be conducted on the brainwashing of otherwise well-meaning social justice warriors in academia by the scholarly antisemites who bamboozled them. (Inshallah!)
It was Patrick Wolfe who first applied the term settler-colonialism to Israel. But here is his definition of the term:
… settler colonialism as an ongoing structure of power that systematically erases indigenous peoples from the land (through genocide, assimilation, and other means) and replaces them with settlers from around the world.
In order to apply this term to the Jews of Israel, one would have to find evidence that the Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians are the indigenous population, yet archaeological evidence shows that it is the Jews who are indigenous to the land. Also, they would have to prove that Israel has genocided the Arabs whereas their population both within Israel and in the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been growing consistently and life expectancy is increasing. (For my critique of Wolfe’s paper, click here.)
Kelly’s use of this term shows her bias and that of GLQ: Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, the journal that published her work. That should be sufficient to disqualify her paper as worthy of serious consideration but it is dangerous because it will be cited in future studies. Therefore, I want to point out just some of the innumerous problems in her article.
She contends that Israel deceptively advertises itself as a safe place that protects citizens and tourists from terrorism.
The safety promised to internationals by the Ministry of Tourism hinges also on the construction of Israel as a model counterterrorist state. … This characterization deliberately worked to obscure the violent foundations of the State of Israel, position Palestinians as de facto terrorists, … (page 162)
This ignores the fact that the violent foundations of the State was necessitated by the military invasion of five armies surrounding her on the ground and bombing from the air in the attempt to wipe her out before the ink on the Declaration of Independence was even dry. I wonder, if she was faced with knife bearing or rock throwing Arabs would these still be ‘de facto‘ terrorists in Kelly’s eyes?
For her, all of this becomes pinkwashing when Israel
promulgate[s] a gay-friendly multicultural image alongside a defense of and justification for Israel’s occupation, in fact positioning the latter as a precondition for the former. … [and describes] Palestinians as irreparably homophobic in efforts to shore up Israel’s self representation as a gay paradise. (page 163)
As if she has never seen videotapes of Hamas throwing gays off roofs. As if she has no idea that gays from the PA flee to Tel Aviv to find safety and live normal lives because they are in mortal danger at the hands of family, community and/or the PA authorities.
For support, she draws on
members from [the NGO] alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society [who] remind us, pinkwashing is not merely a tactic of Zionism, but, since Zionism is predicated on racial, gendered, and sexual discourses, is constitutive of Zionism itself. [emphasis added] (page 160)
As if she does not know that the Israeli Proclamation of Independence specifically states Israel “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”
As if she does not know that alQaws cannot operate openly within the PA. In fact, their pub nights take place at Art Club in Tel Aviv. (Oh! The irony!)
Their website says they conduct events in The West Bank Community Center in Ramallah, however, I could find no center with that name in the city. They also operate in Haifa, Jaffa and East Jerusalem, and their Facebook events page lists past events that took place in Shfaram. This is consistent with the ‘Palestinian’ view that the ‘occupation’ includes all of Israel. Does Kelly agree with that?
The central focus of her paper is on Birthright LGBTQ trips to Israel. She draws on the itinerary uploaded onto their website to make points about evil Israel. If she had actually gone on the trip, then that would mean she is Jewish but there is no indication that she has or is. On the other hand, in an earlier paper and in her presentation at a panel discussion entitled “The Psychology of Pinkwashing“, she talks about her participation in a number of so-called solidarity trips to the PA in which she personally experienced what she refers to as the (im)mobiity of the Palestinians in contrast with everyone else. I guess she did not pay attention to the fact that Israeli Jews are not allowed into Bethlehem or the Arab section of Hebron (97% of the city versus the 3% open to Jews) or other PA towns and villages.
In any case, she uses the gay Birthright trip itinerary to make the point that:
… it is clear that, rather than disappearing state violence, pinkwashing in fact centralizes, reframes, and celebrates both the erasure of Palestinian presence in historic Palestine [and] the military violence it is understood to obscure.
… the gay soldiers you dance with in the pride parade … check, arrest, and kill Palestinians on a daily basis.
Oh! The lies! It takes a black heart to tell such lies about a country that is blemished for sure, but that is trying to find a balance between providing equal rights to all even when some of those seek that state’s very destruction. How is that pinkwashing?
The real pinkwashing is the cynical use of “gay” to cover up one’s antisemitism.