One of the tactics of the Israel haters is to point to anything good that Israel does, and accuse us of doing it only to draw attention away from our supposed “human rights abuses.”
Provide the only oasis of freedom in the Middle East for LGBTQ people? Pink-washing!
Showcase Israeli art? “Artwashing”!
Hold sporting events in Israel? “Sportswashing”!
Combat desertification, rehabilitate forests, and prevent forest fires? “Greenwashing”!
Heck, it’s only a matter of time our efforts at cleanliness draw accusations of “washing-washing.”
The latest in the long line of washing-related accusations is this:
A panel responds to the use of veganism to propagandize the occupation.
For over a decade, the nation branding campaign Brand Israel has sought to “wash” the crimes of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing by carefully crafting the image of Israel as a progressive, forward-thinking oasis of modernism in the Middle East. The campaign has appropriated elements of both the LGBT and environmental movements to advance these goals. Such “pinkwashing” and “greenwashing” are unique in the world of state-sponsored propaganda campaigns.
Over the past several years, veganism has increasingly been weaponized for the same ends. Animal advocates across the West have been influenced by various claims of a vegan/ animal rights “revolution” in Israel and even participated in aspects of veganwashing. By contrast, the emerging animal rights movement in Palestine – like all social movement struggles – has suffered greatly under Israel’s occupation and violent expansionist agenda.
What notion of veganism is being appropriated here and what are the realities of animal rights in Israel? How prevalent is Zionism in the global animal advocacy movement? What are the realities of animal liberation struggle in the Palestinian context? What are the possibilities of Palestinian solidarity work in the global animal liberation movement?
Join us for a panel discussion on the recent history of veganwashing, the need for a comprehensive response from the animal liberation movement and the politics of BDS organizing.
Danielle Williams is a composer and music educator who taught for 2 years in Ramallah. During that time, she was an active volunteer with the Palestinian Animal League (PAL) and helped organize the first international solidarity conference for PAL. She is an organizer with Vegans for BDS.
Ahlam Haroun is Executive Director of the Palestinian Animal League. Ahlam will be participating via Skype.
Stephen Maher is completing his PhD at York University, researching corporate power and the capitalist state. His Master’s thesis focused on the political economy of the Palestinian Authority and the post-Oslo Accords occupation regime. He has lived in the West Bank, where he was active in the International Solidarity Movement. He is an assistant editor for the Socialist Register and a member of Socialist Project.
Michael John Addario is the editor of Animal Liberation Currents magazine. For more than twenty years he has been involved in animal rights activism, socialist organizing, the trade union movement and the NDP. He has been a shop floor and staff organizer with several unions, including IFPTE, United Steelworkers and SEIU. He is an organizer with Vegans for BDS.
In other words, Jewish Israelis are not allowed to be vegans like other people. They are not allowed to be vegans because they feel eating meat and animal-related products entails cruelty. They are clearly only doing it to divert attention away from their cruelty to palestinians.
At the same time, palestinians are allowed to treat animals horrendously. They are allowed to use donkeys as suicide bombers. They are allowed to butcher sea turtles. They are allowed to use birds as incendiary device carriers. They are allowed to fling cats by the tail for entertainment. They are allowed to keep animals confined in horrendous conditions. They are allowed to torture cattle.
I could go on and on. You get my drift.
There is a double standard here. Everything Jewish Israelis do is manipulative, calculated and deserving of condemnation. Altruism does not exist in our lexicon. Conversely, nothing palestinian Arabs do – no matter how horrendous – should be condemned, and may even be justified.
There is a word for this, and it does not end in “washing.”
It ends in “ism.”