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February 23, 2012 1

Israeli Apartheid Week Slanders Israel with “Pinkwashing” Falsehoods

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) begins in cities across the United States this Sun­day, includ­ing at approx­i­mately two dozen col­lege cam­puses. One of the cen­tral themes of this year’s events is “pinkwash­ing,” a short­hand for claims that Israel tries to show­case its pro­gres­sive record on LGBT issues as a way to white­wash its poli­cies toward Palestinians.
Three uni­ver­si­ties, Yale, Boston Univer­sity and Tem­ple, will host events about “pinkwash­ing” and LGBT issues as part of their IAW pro­grams. A fourth event calls on indi­vid­u­als to rally out­side the LGBT Cen­ter in New York because the Center refused to host an IAW event last year.
Alle­ga­tions of so-called Israeli pinkwash­ing have become more promi­nent in the past sev­eral years and gained main­stream atten­tion a few months ago when The New York Times pub­lished an op-ed on the sub­ject by CUNY pro­fes­sor Sarah Schul­man. She argued that Israel’s accep­tance of gays into the mil­i­tary is an “incom­plete indi­ca­tor of human rights” and shouldn’t “blind us” to the Pales­tini­ans’ issues.
This is a clas­sic straw man argu­ment: No one was assert­ing that Israel’s record on LGBT issues was the final say on its human rights record.
The pinkwash­ing alle­ga­tion uncov­ers some­thing deeply nefar­i­ous about the anti-Israel move­ment: Oppo­si­tion to Israel is rarely lim­ited to  crit­i­cism of Israel as it relates to the con­flict. Instead, it often becomes an all-out attempt to slan­der every facet of Israel’s exis­tence and to claim that Israel’s real and laud­able achieve­ments are just an attempt to “cover up” the darker truth. Israel’s swift responses to the recent human­i­tar­ian crises in Turkey and Haiti were sim­i­larly dis­missed by anti-Israel activists as an oppor­tu­nity exploited by Israel to white­wash its record.  

Even if one dis­agrees with some of Israel’s poli­cies, Israel has every right to pro­mote its legit­i­mate accom­plish­ments on LGBT rights, includ­ing annual pride parades, anti-discrimination laws, adop­tion rights and, most recently, Tel Aviv being ranked the “best gay city” in the world. Israel deserves and should be enti­tled to claim credit for a gay rights record that far sur­passes most other coun­tries in the world. 

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