Saturday 26 November 2011

Israel and "Pinkwashing" -- "Whitewashing the truth"

I was going to take apart a recent article by Sarah Schulman in the New York Times, called "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'", but, as so often happens, my natural laziness and the Chinese principle of "Wu Wei" came to my aid.  Wu Wei is a Taoist concept, meaning in its simplest terms: "do nothing".  Often you face a problem: do nothing for a while and bingo! it sorts itself out.  So the tearing apart of Schulman's shoddy piece has been done, and done much better than I could have, by David Harris, in his piece "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'": what was the New York Times thinking?
[Update: 25 Jan '12: just came across an article on Schulman's piece by the redoubtable Bruce Bawer, here.  The money quote:
To be sure, it never stops being remarkable to me that anyone who professes to care about human freedom – especially someone who is gay and a woman and a Jew! – can be anything but a fervent supporter of Israel, a small free country surrounded by Jew-hating, woman-oppressing, gay-killing neighbors that are intent on destroying it.  But then this is what happens, alas, when a mind is so besotted with ideology as to blind itself to even the most obvious of realities.]
I did however overcome my indolence to a little extent, by writing to the NYT, as below.  Sometimes they print my letters, though I have a lot more success with the local rag, the South China Morning Post.  It's quite difficult to get a letter in the NYT that's critical of Islam or Islamism, or is supportive of Israel, because that's just their left-of-centre bent, but they do from time to time. Anyway, here's my letter: [Update 1 Dec: The New York Times did publish my letter... see here]
For some people Israel can do no right (Israel and "Pinkwashing" by Sarah Schulman, NYT Nov 22).
Israel is the only gay-friendly country in the Middle East, but for Schulman that’s just a smokescreen for “co-opting” people into an anti-immigration, anti-Muslim stance.  I find offensive the suggestion that I can’t make a judgement on Israel because it’s gay friendly and that I’m somehow subject to a “pinkwash”. Hogwash, I say. [btw: Schulman’s remarks concentrate on the “global gay movement”, though they no doubt are meant also for the straight community, people such as myself — straight white guys]
Israel remains the only democracy in the Middle East, its Arab population -- both Muslim and Christian -- is the most satisfied with its lot of any in the Middle East, as attested to by many polls.  It has offered the Palestinian leadership peace on numerous occasions, beginning in 1947.  That leadership has always rebuffed peace, sometimes violently, as in the second intifada after the Camp David summit.  And the view that Israel is an “apartheid” state is gross calumny.
The fact that there  are gay communities in other Middle Eastern countries is irrelevant.  Of course there are: there are homosexuals in every society on the earth.  What matters is how they’re treated.  The only place they are treated well, both in law and in practice, is Israel. Yet for Schulman — herself gay -- that’s all just out to “blind us”.  
Shame on Schulman.
Yours, etc, Peter F.