Why Don’t They Just QUIT?
Like all people of conscience, we in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities are deeply concerned about the use of our tax dollars to support the violent, repressive and racist regime in Israel. Our money ñ nearly $8 million per day!ñ is funding the indiscriminate murder and wounding of Palestinian civilians, the destruction of Palestinian homes, the construction of exclusively Jewish settlements and the closure of the occupied territories, which threatens the health, safety and economic stability of the entire Palestinian population.
As queers, we are part of an international movement for human rights that encompasses the movement for Palestinian liberation, and all other liberation movements. We are also part of the growing international movement seeking active ways to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine.
However, according to an article in the Forward (August 2002), do not jump to the conclusion that groups like QUIT represent the consensus opinion within the gay community.
But Lee Walzer, author of “Between Sodom and Eden: A Gay Journey Through Today’s Changing Israel” (Columbia University Press, 2000), called such pro-Palestinian groups as QUIT and Queers for Palestine “quite marginal.”
“My own guess would be that the greater sympathy right now lies with Israel,” Walzer said, citing Israel’s good reputation on gay rights issues and a post-September 11 backlash against Muslims on the part of gay conservatives.
Prominent figures on the gay right, such as writers Andrew Sullivan and Norah Vincent, have been particularly outspoken supporters of Israel. But Vincent, a self-described lesbian libertarian and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, said her support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians “has nothing really to do with being gay, it has to do with notions of freedom and democracy.” She did say, however, that the relatively advanced status of women and gays in Israel is indicative of why Israel is worthy of support.
But Vincent said that pro-Palestinian groups are not necessarily outside the mainstream of gay politics. “I think this is a general trend toward identifying in some way or another with left-liberal politics,” she said. “And certainly the Palestinian cause is a cause celebre among left-liberals.”
Richard Goldstein, an executive editor at New York’s Village Voice newspaper, called Vincent’s characterization of the gay left’s attitudes toward Israel “an outrageous libel.”
Goldstein, author of the new book “The Attack Queers: Liberal Society and the Gay Right” (Verso), an attack on Vincent, Sullivan and other pundits on the gay right, said he had never heard of QUIT or Queers for Palestine and that groups that exclusively blame Israel for the current situation are “not anywhere near typical of the gay community.”
Goldstein said the gay left is more dovish than the gay right and may be more critical of the Sharon government, but that “the gay community is very supportive ó left or right ó of Israel.”
He said the gay community appreciates “Israel’s embrace of gay people.” He contrasted this with the description of the Palestinian Authority’s mistreatment of gays in a recent New Republic article, calling it “hair-raising.” “If these things are true about the PLO,” Goldstein said, “I don’t see how any gay people can be pro-PLO.”
Bruce Steele, editor of The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian newsmagazine ó which is running in its September 3 issue an article about gay Israeli soldiers who are refusing to serve in the territories ó said he has heard “a number of people” try to draw parallels between the Israeli treatment of Palestinians and historic mistreatment of gays. But he said there is no “consensus opinion” within the gay community on the issue.
“I think, like any other random group of Americans, that people’s opinions are informed more by other experiences in their lives than their sexuality on this particular subject,” he said.