Jewish Voices for Peace and the Seattle LGBT Commission Anomaly

By Melanie Nathan, March 19, 2012
I often wonder if advisory boards for non-Profit organizations keep a check on what they have tied their names to?  Many are apt to join for an appealing mission statement tied to common causes and very often because a friend or acquaintance pitched the importance.

Although I do recognize a few prominent names, I do not personally know any of the people on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace, though recognize some from our own LGBT community and the entertainment industry.

What piques my interest is a petition which now appears on the website of Jewish Voice for Peace, asking support for a petition to thank the Seattle LGBT Commission for making what so many consider to be a confounding, weak and  biased decision.

Last Thursday, in an unprecedented act the Seattle City LGBT Commission silenced the voices of a group of Israeli LGBT leaders by cancelling a meeting which was to be held Friday for the purpose of dialogue about common issues impacting LGBT youth and communities.

The Commission caved in to a small group of anti-Israel activists who regularly misrepresent the situation in the Middle East, accusing Israel of atrocities that are unverified, of horrors that have never taken place, using false and fabricated statistics.

These anti-Israel activists represent the smallest percentage of the LGBT community and their allegations are rarely accepted or given any credence by our decision makers or historians, yet the Seattle LGBT Commission decided that their noise warranted the cancellation of an event scheduled by the Commissioner with the coalition group, the Association of Israeli LGBT Educational Organizations (AILO) on tour in the U.S. to share their LGBTI activist and organizational experiences with U.S.A. counterparts.

Sponsored by A Wider Bridge, http://www.awiderbridge.org/ the group consists of a coalition made up from Israel Gay Youth, Tehila, (the Israeli P-FLAG) and Hoshen, all who have been involved in equality work in Israel. (http://www.awiderbridge.org/on-pinkwashing.html

On Facebook Dean Spade, once a fellow at the Williams Institute, and self described trans queer activist,  refers to a letter he wrote to the Seattle LGBT City Commissioners to cancel their event:  “I would strongly urge you to reconsider hosting this event, recognizing its broader significance,” noted Spade.   “A bunch of ‘pinkwashing’ events are being rolled out in Seattle this week.  I am hoping others will join me in responding.   ( see full letters at https://www.facebook.com/notes/dean-spade/response-to-seattle-pinkwashing-events/389074711104912

After hearing about the Facebook letter campaign by Dean Spade to cancel the meeting, activists from around the country campaigned the Commission to maintain its neutrality on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and allow the meeting to go on, but to no avail.

Unlike the Seattle Commission, a similar D.C. event was NOT cancelled by PFLAG.  Jody Huckaby, executive Director of PFLAG received a similar request from Professor Katherine Franke, who also happened to attend a Palestinian political group’s sponsorship of a West Bank visit together with Spade.

Jody Huckaby responded:

“Dear Ms. Franke:

Thank you for contacting me about the meeting today at our offices.

We reviewed the issues that you raised and discussed them at length internally because we took very seriously the concerns you raised. We decided that we should live the value of our mission statement to provide opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and [act] to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity. As the original family voice on LGBT issues in this country, we know that our model of support, education, and advocacy of, for, and by LGBT people, family members, friends, and allies has been replicated in Israel and many other countries in part because of this philosophy of engaging in dialogue. At PFLAG, we take very seriously our nonpolitical nature and believe that we must cross party lines, borders, faiths, and any other gaps that divide us to unite in a common vision of LGBT equality.

I wanted to make you aware that we did not receive any financial sponsorship for this event. The gathering was intended only for the purposes of engaging in a dialogue around LGBT issues. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you on identifying representatives from Palestinian organizations for a similar dialogue.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to schedule time to talk. I can be reached here via email or at the contact information provided below.

Jody Huckaby”

While some endorse the so called ‘pinkwashing’ of Israel and others denounce it as mere anti- Israeli or anti-Semitic smoke-screening, I believe the argument has no relevance in our mutual quest for LGBTI acceptance and equality. But now The Jewish Voice for Peace, which is not an LGBT organization wants to applaud the Seattle LGBT Commission and of course they do, because their political agenda has been fulfilled at the behest of Dean Spade.

Indeed the Commission is being exploited and used by Jewish Voices for Peace, in their escapade and of course they want to thank the Commission.

In a statement issued by AILO:-

“We, the leaders of three of the largest Israeli LGBTQ organizations, are part of a new partnership called AILO: The Alliance of Israeli LGBT Educational Organizations, a collaborative network of Israeli organizations working to support LGBTQ youth, families, education, and social change.

We came to the Pacific Northwest together to meet with community leaders, to share the innovative work we are doing in Israel, to learn from counterparts in the US, and to build relationships for future collaboration.

In that regard, we looked forward to meeting with the Seattle LGBTQ Commission.

We learned today, just the day before the scheduled meeting, that the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, after hearing some of the worst exaggerations about our country and irrelevant statements about the organization that helped us set up our meetings here in Seattle, voted to retract their invitation and to cancel our meeting with the Commission members.

We are overwhelmed that we are being denied the chance to have a professional discussion with the Seattle LGBTQ Commission solely because we are Israelis.

As we in the LGBTQ community are a minority, our primary goal is to create dialog. Eliminating the opportunity for dialog goes against the very tolerance and understanding that we in Israel’s LGBTQ community and the Seattle LGBTQ commission in Seattle’s LGBTQ community are all working to achieve.

We strongly condemn boycotts as anti-liberal acts and counterproductive whenever the parties are willing to communicate, which we are. Boycotting dialogue can never help any two parties to reconcile their differences.”

We expected from the Seattle LGBTQ Commission a strong declaration of its intent to support to ALL LGBTQ activists, regardless of their color, sex or origin. Sadly, it appears that the commission, representing a minority that continues to face discrimination, also practices that same discrimination . . .”

In complete contrast to how PFLAG handled the  similar matter, The Seattle LGBT Commissioners set a grave precedent which could not be clearer than from their statement about the cancellation: Seattle LGBT Commission

The Commission invited Dean Spade but did not invite AILO or the group sponsoring the event, A Wider Bridge and nor the organizer, STANDWITHUS .

According to the Article on MIKE REPORT  the  US and Israeli LGBT Communities are ourtraged by the cancellation: http://mikereport.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/gay-community-shocked-angered-by-israel-boycott/

Wendy Kenin:- It’s the anti-pinkwashing activists this week that enforced repressive tactics to exclude Israeli people coming to advance self-determination and social justice through dialogue and collaboration.”

Gay Advocacy group A Wider Bridge issued a statement today saying

“We are deeply disturbed by the single-minded and dehumanizing tactics of those who would seek to shut down these important opportunities for engagement, dialogue, learning and collaboration.” Arthur Slepian of A Wider Bridge stated that “Isolating and ignoring Israel’s LGBTQ community, pitting one minority against another, or calling for a wholesale boycott of Israel is not going to bring peace to the region any faster,”

AND Dan Avery, a writer at Queerty.com asked

“Are anti-pinkwashers like Spade now saying that all gays from Israel should be silenced in the public arena, lest they accidentally encourage someone to visit their homeland? Are we calling for the end of civil discourse and kicking Israel’s LGBT off the bus?” He went on to point out that “It’s a double standard: When Mariela Castro, the heterosexual daughter of Cuba’s president, Raoul Castro, boasts about how progressive her country is on gay issues—despite a proven track record of oppressing LGBTs and political dissidents—she’s embraced with open arms by gay activists.”

AND Novelist Scott Rose, a human rights writer, sent a written statement to the Seattle City LGBT Commission asserting that:-

“In cancelling the event, you have caved to demands from simplistic, questionably-intentioned persons who pin all blame for problems in the Mid-East on Israel while giving everybody else a free pass.” adding that  “you have chosen the side of people who have demands which, if immediately implemented, would without question result in the imposition of an Islamic theocracy in the territory now Israel, with a corresponding loss of rights for all of the LGBT persons there.”

So that brings me to my ultimate question about the Advisory Board of Jewish Voices for Peace. This is anything buut peaceful; when your organization supports one of the most divisive acts imaginable, by an LGBT Commission in this country snubbing guests with similar purpose.

The Petition preamble on Jewish Voice for Peace site starts:-

“On march 15, 2012, the Seattle Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Commission (SLGBTC) cancelled an event because the Commission wanted to stand up to “Pinkwashing”—diverting attention from Israel’s occupation and abuses of human rights by praising Israel on LGBT issues. This is a huge victory for the queer Palestinians and Jews who testified in favor of the decision and all who support them and will make real dialogue possible.”

Well happy day for the queer Palestinians whose own mother and father would have them murdered for being gay. Happy Huge Victory! And Happy day for the two miserable Jews who are so self-loathing that they would give the heads of their LGBT sister and brother for their own broader political agenda. Happy Day and Happy Victory.

But now I must ask each and everyone of these esteemed members of the Advisory Committee – do you feel this is a Victory for anyone? And if so Who?

The Mission of Jewish Voice for Peace is:

“Jewish Voice for Peace members are inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals.

JVP opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression.  JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.”

By asking for this petition and support Jewish Voice for peace is exploiting out LGBT  community for its own political agenda and to advance its own interests and this is the Advisory Board which has signed up for the ploy:-

Here is a list of the Advisory Board of Jewish Voice for Peace who by association, until we hear anything to the contrary, fully support the Petition in support of the  LGBT Seattle Commission decision and the entire rhetoric that supported it!

Udi Aloni Filmmaker, writer, and visual artist, Freedom Theater of the Jenin refugee camp

Ed Asner Actor and Emmy award winner

Rabbi Buzz Bogage Director of Jewish Life, Depauw University

Daniel Boyarin Professor of Talmudic Studies, UC Berkeley

Judith Butler Professor, Department of Rhetoric, UC Berkeley

Debra Chasnoff Academy Award winning documentary maker

Sami Chetrit Film producer, poet, professor of Near Eastern Studies,  UC Berkeley

Noam Chomsky Linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, political activist, author and lecturer

Rami Elhanan Member of Israeli-Palestinian Parents Forum; lost daughter to  a suicide bombing

Eve Ensler Obie Award winning playwright, performer, and feminist activist

Ronnie Gilbert Actress, singer, former member of the Weavers

Goapele Popular musician & performer

Rabbi Lynn Gottleib  Cofounder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence and The Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point

Adam Hochschild Author and journalist

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz Author, scholar, founding director of Jews for Racial & Economic  Justice

Naomi Klein Journalist, syndicated columnist, author and activist

Tony Kushner Playwright, Pulitzer Prize winner

George Lakoff Professor of cognitive linguistics, UC Berkeley

Aurora Levins-Morales Poet, essayist, historian

Rela Mazali Writer and Co-founder of Israel’s New Profile

Robert Meeropol Younger son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, founder and Executive  Director of Rosenberg Fund for Children

Michael Ratner Academic, activist, attorney, author and President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a non-profit human rights litigation organization

Adrienne Rich Poet and writer, winner National Book Award

Sarah Schulman Writer, playwright and historian. Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at the City University of New York

Wallace Shawn Actor and playwright

Michael Shimkin Microcredit, community organizing and development activist. Founder, the Shimkin Foundation.

Avi Shlaim Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford

Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman Congregation Shaarei Shamayim in Madison, Wisconsin

Video Seattle City Council Meeting LGBT Commission Regarding their Discrimination Against Israeli LGBT Guests -Incompetency of the Seattle LGBT Commission highlighted by the Council member questions at the end of the discussion in Video - http://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/video-seattle-city-council-meeting-lgbt-commission-regarding-their-discrimination-against-israeli-lgbt-guests/

http://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/us-lgbt-academic-delegation-guilty-of-pro-palestinian-pinkwashing/

UPDATED Here is a list of the Articles about the topic that I have written over the past week-

APOLOGY BY COMMISSION

http://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/seattle-lgbt-commission-issues-apology-to-israeli-guests-but-should-still-resign/

Greater Seattle LGBT Business Association Issues letter of Outrage -http://oblogdeeoblogda.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/greater-seattle-business-association-outraged-by-seattle-lgbt-commission/

and Before that-

Jewish Voices for Peace and the Seattle LGBT Commission Anomaly

by Melanie Nathan on March 19, 2012 in POLITICAL VIEWS, LGBT, U.S.A., NEWS, WORLD, Africa, RELIGION, EVENTS, Conferences

By Melanie Nathan, March 19, 2012 I often wonder if advisory boards for non-Profit organizations keep a check on what they have tied their names to?  Many are apt to join for an appealing mission statement tied to common causes and very often because a friend or acquaintance pitched the importance. Although I do recognize [...]

Leave a CommentContinue Reading →

US LGBT Academic Delegation Guilty of Pro-Palestinian Pinkwashing

by Melanie Nathan on March 17, 2012 in Conferences, EVENTS, LGBT, Middle East, NEWS, U.S.A., WORLD

Or who is Pinkwashing the Projected Projectiled Pinkwashers By Melanie Nathan, 03/17/2012 There has been a recent spate of targeted attacks on Israeli LGBT community and leadership visits in the USA.  The attempts to squash the meetings of all and any Israeli LGBT visitors, regardless of purpose and commonality has been helmed by a group [...]

10 CommentsContinue Reading →

Seattle LGBT Commission’s Boycott of Israeli LGBTI Guests Opens Wounds

by Melanie Nathan on March 16, 2012 in Conferences, EVENTS, LGBT, Middle East, NEWS, POLITICAL VIEWS, RELIGION, U.S.A., WORLD

By Melanie Nathan and Scott Rose, 03/16/2012 Caving to protests by a small anti-Israel and anti-Jewish contingency, using the guise of so called pinkwashing,  the  Seattle City LGBT Commission has silenced the voices of its Israeli LGBT guests  from the coalition Group AILO,  by cancelling, with less than 24 hours notice,  a dialogue event which [...]

2 CommentsContinue Reading →

Seattle LGBT Commission Shuts Down Israel’s LGBT Voice

by Melanie Nathan on March 15, 2012 in Conferences, EVENTS, Middle East, NEWS, WORLD

The unconscionable shutting down of gay, lesbian and transgender voices by our own community cannot be tolerated, for any reason whatsoever – I take blogger’s license – I am sad and disgusted! By Melanie Nathan 03/15/2012 Reports have come in from the Seattle commission’s meeting tonight that in an act of unprecedented cowardice the Seattle [...]

17 CommentsContinue Reading →

Seattle University Assistant Law Professor Attempts to Silence Visiting Israeli LGBT Voices

by Melanie Nathan on March 14, 2012 in POLITICAL VIEWS, LGBT, U.S.A., NEWS, WORLD, Middle East, RELIGION, EVENTS, Conferences

Denying dialogue is a means to foster hate … By Melanie Nathan, 03/14/2012 In the midst of a visit to the West Coast by a delegation of Israeli LGBT leaders, is a small group of anti-Israel proponents, who seem to be led by an assistant law Professor from Seattle University, Dean Spade, who was a [...]

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7 Comments on “Jewish Voices for Peace and the Seattle LGBT Commission Anomaly”

  1. mikereport March 20, 2012 at 11:34 AM #

    Thanks for the mention! You are doing great work here Melanie!

    • Melanie Nathan March 20, 2012 at 1:56 PM #

      Thanks so much….

      • Charles the Great March 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM #

        I found some of the names on this list rather interesting. In the Toronto area when a organization known as Queers for Against Israeli Apartheid had a similar situation as this Israeli group they screamed bloody murder however in this case they were allowed to march in Pride after screaming murder there however their chapters in Canada (which in Toronto, Halifax, Edmonton) seems to be celebrating to people got a group of Israeli LGBT leaders getting censored when they had the same problem

        I would suggest Google same of those names with QuAIA. I think they seem to have a double standard. I would start with Sarah Schulman, Naomi Klein, and for one Judith Butler does appear on the QuAIA website for example.

        • Melanie Nathan March 22, 2012 at 12:51 PM #

          Helping to get the name son the list out is great. I bet some of these people have no idea what they are endorsing half the time…

        • Charles the Great March 22, 2012 at 12:51 PM #

          But I should add it was only so far the Toronto organization which the censorship happened.

          but here is what Naomi Klein said when that happened

          and in this case they are supporting censorship but not in the case with Toronto

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