The Hypocrisy of Rea Carey and the LGBT Task Force : “Our vision for the future of the movement is one that is broad, inclusive and dynamic” – and yet they ban a pre-arranged and once accepted Jewish event within days of the Conference. See Call to Action below!
By Melanie Nathan, January 18, 2016.
Several prominent LGBT Jewish Activists have come out in disgust against the LGBT Task Force’s decision to ban a Jewish organization from the annual Creating Change Conference. With mere days to the start of the conference in Chicago, The LGBT Task Force, which touts itself as all inclusive, has banned A Wider Bridge, an LGBT Jewish organization, from holding a Sabbath celebration event, where Israeli guests were also included.
Arthur Slepian, the Executive Director of A Wider Bridge noted in his statement:
“After being approved as a part of the program well in advance, the organizers of the Creating Change conference in Chicago caved into extremist anti-Israel demands and canceled the A Wider Bridge-sponsored reception that was to be held on Friday, January 22. The reception plans to feature two leaders of Jerusalem Open House, (JOH) Jerusalem’s flagship LGBTQ organization.
Prior to being expelled from the Conference, a mere three days ago, a Wider bridge expressed its gratitude and hopes when posting about the collaboration with Task Force to bring the Shabbat event to Creating Change:
“In the spirit of “hachnasat orchim” (hospitality), A Wider Bridge has worked closely with the Task Force and local clergy to provide an inclusive Shabbat service for both conference attendees and the general public on January 22nd at 7:30pm. Following this service, we hope you’ll join us for our “Beyond the Bridge” cocktail reception to meet the leaders of Jerusalem Open House, a remarkable LGBT community organization that works toward social change to empower LGBTQ and allied Jews, Arabs, Christians in a city so often mired in conflict and division.”
A source has informed us that the objections came from Dean Spade and a handful of anti-Israel activists. We did not contact Spade for comment. Spade an avid opponent of Israel, has made a habit out of shutting down visiting Israeli voices in America. However this time it seems his efforts have successfully closed down this religious Jewish Sabbath celebration at Creating Change, cementing his stance, clearly, as one of antisemitism, with the organization LGBT Task Force, complicit.
Back in 2012 Dean Spade’s attempts to thwart a visit by Israeli LGBTI activists to the Seattle LGBT Commission caused a huge embarrassment to the Seattle City Council and resulted in a reprimand and a public apology by the LGBT Commission, which initially caved into Spade’s solitary demand (or maybe there were two or three of them!):
“The Seattle City LGBT Commissions has issued a formal apology…. It admits the “pain, offense and embarrassment,” which they caused by canceling their scheduled event with leaders from Israel’s LGBTQ community who were visiting U.S. cities. The took responsibility by apologizing to “leaders who were invited as our guests and to the many members of the Israeli, Palestinian, and LGBTQ communities in Seattle and worldwide who were affected by our decision.”
Now it is happening again. However this time it is not only about Israeli visitors but also clearly about shutting out American Jewish voices and religious celebration, from the Conference.
Slepian noted further in his statement:
“A Wider Bridge is one of the leading LGBTQ organizations in the country, an advocate for LGBTQ rights here in North America, in Israel and around the world, and it is both sad and disgraceful that the organizers of Creating Change decided that there is no place for us in this significant gathering of LGBT leaders from around the U.S. and the world. We work to promote honest dialogue and collaboration and to present Israel to our program participants in all of its complexity. Our trips include visits to the West Bank, and our participants engage with Palestinians, Israeli Ethiopians, transgender leaders, and LGBTQ leaders from Israel’s religious communities. Our programs explore issues involving homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, ultra-nationalism, and many other forms of bigotry — the very same issues being addressed at the Creating Change conference. The Israeli LGBTQ community has something important to add to the global conversation about LGBTQ rights.
We are saddened by what appears to be capitulation to the intimidation of a small number of anti-Israel extremists who want to shut down the voices of those who don’t adhere to their rigid and exclusive party line. As LGBTQ people, we are all too familiar with being oppressed through shaming, the closet, and imposed silence, and we see great danger in allowing this kind of censorship and blatant double standard to become the norm in our community. It is especially sad that this action excludes from Creating Change the leaders of one of the most important LGBTQ organizations in the world.
Jerusalem Open House (JOH) is an organization that works tirelessly to build LGBTQ community in a city with a very diverse population and a challenging environment. JOH organizes the annual Jerusalem Pride March that was the scene of horrific violence last summer that led to the death of one teenage girl, and JOH has been leading the effort to help the community recover from the trauma of that tragedy. We hope that the leaders of the LGBTQ community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, will come to meet these leaders and stand in solidarity with us at our alternative event.”
No matter what side of the Israel/Palestinian argument one supports, no matter one’s opinion on the internal politics of Israel, under no circumstances should any LGBTI voices be excluded from the Creating Change conference. And worse yet under no circumstances should a religious event such as this, be cancelled. This is an outrage!
Just this past week, breaking with tradition, Creating Change itself noted that the State of the Movement address at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference will be delivered by “a chorus of voices rather than one.” In previous years, it has been the role of the Task Force’s Executive Director, Rea Carey, to deliver the annual speech at the Creating Change Conference.However this year, Rea Carey said:
“No one person — in this case one white lesbian — can ever speak authentically or fully for an entire movement in one speech. This is not where we are, nor is it where we are going. Our vision for the future of the movement is one that is broad, inclusive and dynamic. When we made this decision late last year to change the annual speech, I was very much inspired to do so after listening to the many voices on staff and across our movement for change. That’s why this year’s state of the movement will include a diversity of voices — featuring some of the people, as Task Force staff, who are driving our movement forward to real freedom, justice and equality for all LGBTQ people and for a changed country. We hope you will enjoy what I believe will be a very powerful speech.”
This only drives the stake into our Jewish hearts all the deeper! It makes this an act of exclusion and one of clear bias!
LGBT activists and prominent members of the U.S. LGBTQ Community are speaking out vehemently against the ban. Here are the comments of prominent Jewish LGBT people from articles and social media:
Roberta Kaplan, famed lawyer who represented Edie Windsor in the DOMA case tweeted: “CREATING CHANGE CREATES BIAS: …As a Jew, Zionist and lesbian, I can no longer support NGLTF Very Sad”
Dana Beyer, calls the action anti- Semitic:
“My column on the recent anti-Semitic action of the Task Force in banning a global Jewish LGBTQ organization from holding a reception at Creating Change this week in Chicago…” and she writes:
“The LGBT civil rights movement has evolved admirably over the past few years to become more inclusive, working against institutional bigotry of all kinds, and grappling with the intersectionalities that exist within all of us. Those multiple identities impact not only how we think of ourselves, but more notably, what others think of us.
Unfortunately, some of that progress has empowered the more radical amongst us to act in a brazen, autocratic manner. The growing demand on the left for political purity includes the act of blacklisting and de-platforming — i.e., not allowing people with whom you disagree a platform from which to speak. On the radical left, free expression loses out to demands for protection from insult and offense.
The most recent such episode, a stain on the LGBT community, is the willingness by the National LGBTQ Task Force (Task Force) to cave into demands from radical queer activists to ban a Jewish organization from hosting a reception at this week’s upcoming Creating Change conference. This is not the type of change for which the Task Force stands, and is a disgraceful act of capitulation.”
Jillian Weis, an esteemed attorney and well known LGBTI voice, recently representing a trans Plaintiff in the case of Chavez v. Credit Nation Auto Sales, LLC:
“The Task Force excluded a group of Israelis working against ultranationalism and for Arab-Israeli peace because pinkwashing. I’m all for decrying Israeli government violence. But you can’t paint all Israelis with that brush, and kicking out this group makes even less sense. If you’re going to kick out people whose governments killed lots of Arab civilians, you should at least kick out the Americans.”
Robin Tyler: Clearly livid and hurt by this ban, is well known lesbian activist Robin Tyler. Tyler, a legacy in the world of LGBTQ activism, who produced main stages for 3 LGBT marches on Washington, 25 Women’s Music and Comedy Festivals (that were trans inclusive), and was the first out lesbian or gay comic, and much more, provided me with this comment:
A few years ago, Lillian Faderman and I spoke at the LGBT Center in Jerusalem. Many in the audience were Palestinian LGBT youth who had fled their communities because of persecution and fear. Several were living with Israeli LGBT people who had taken them in. NGLTF should be ashamed of themselves for not allowing open dialogue about this and other issues concerning the persecution of LGBT people and Women in the mid-East. Shame, Shame, Shame!
Melanie Nathan (yours truly – yes the audacity to quote self!), the Executive Director of The African Human Rights Coalition and this week a recipient of a County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award:
The action taken by the LGBT Task Force’s action is offensive and divisive. I have never stopped to ask anyone I have advocated for in my work what they think about Israel or what religion they practice, even though I am a lesbian Zionist. I would never allow my feelings toward Israel to exclude anyone in my LGBT community. I place my LGBT status at the fore of my work. Task Force should have the guts to stand up to divisiveness and to do the same!
Highly offended, I see this action as a slap in the face to my work and that of all Jews in our community, such as those quoted above, who have worked tirelessly for equality here in the USA and around the globe. I could never imagine discriminating against anyone because of their stance on Israel/Palestinian politics. I work with all LGBT, regardless of their religion, regardless of ethnicity and regardless of their political stance.
As LGBT people we have a commonality in purpose and we should never be divided, ever, least of all by our own leadership. I have lost all respect for The Task Force and believe they owe A Wider bridge and the Jewish LGBT community an apology. What they have done is no different to what Trump is suggesting we do – that we paint all Muslims as terrorists and hence let none into the USA. Task Force is painting all Jews and all Israelis with a single over-simplistic taint and worse yet at the behest of a threatening handful of anti Israel activists.
On this day celebrating the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. : “It really boils down to this:” said Martin Luther King Jr. “that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.” Task Force apologize and be true to that which you say you are! Failing which kindly NEVER purport to represent me again!
My own input on Facebook:
Attend in Chicago: A Wider Bridge is announcing today that the reception will go on, but at a new location outside of the conference venue. It will be held at the Blackstone Hotel, English Room, 636 S. Michigan Ave, at 8:30 PM. on the 22nd.
CALL TASK FORCE: 1-202-393-5177
PETITION TO CREATING CHANGE: PLEASE SIGN HERE.
Melanie Nathan can be contacted at [email protected]
Adding more Activist Comments: Davis Mac-Iyalla, well known Nigerian LGBT human rights activist who wrote an Article about his trip to the West Bank and Tel Aviv Pride in Israel with a Wider Bridge on this blog, commented:
Creating Change Sponsors:
Casswood Insurance Agency, Ltd.
LGBTQ Giving Council of Chicago Foundation for Women
National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Pacific Grove Hospital
Project Design Company
Woods Fund Chicago
January 19, 2015, 9.00 AM PST: Task Force has reversed it decision to ban the event. READ MORE HERE.
UPDATED JAN 21, 2016 Important articles on the topic:
“We canceled the reception when it became clear to us it would be intensely divisive rather than the community-building, social atmosphere which is the norm for Friday night at the conference,” Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said in an emailed statement. Tyler Gregory, Deputy Director of A Wider Bridge, told the Washington Blade that the Task Force “recommended we either cancel [the] event, or ensure that our event speakers condemn the Israeli government in their remarks,” though which aspects of Israel’s government the Task Force expected A Wider Bridge—which receives no Israeli government funding—to “condemn” were left vague. Refusing to comply with either demand, A Wider Bridge was forced to move its event to a different hotel.” ARTICLE