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February 23, 2012

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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February 10, 2012

One-State “Solution” Conference to be Held at Harvard in March

Update: ADL welcomed Harvard University’s February 24 statement following receipt of a letter from ADL’s National Director to Harvard’s President, Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust. The Harvard University statement, which acknowledged ADL’s concerns, said in part: “We would never take a position on specific policy solutions to achieving peace in this region, and certainly would not endorse any policy that some argue could lead to the elimination of the Jewish State of Israel.” 

Just one month after the major

BDS conference at the University of Pennsylvania, a conference to examine the “possible contours” of a one-state “solution” is scheduled to take place at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government over the first weekend in March. 

The event will feature Stephen Walt, the co-author of the 2007 book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” which infamously asserted that the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. has excessive power and divided loyalties and uses its power to stifle criticism of Israel against America’s true interests. 
Walt is not the only anti-Israel academic who will speak at the conference. The list includes University of Exeter professor Ilan Pappe, Harvard Law School fellow Diana Buttu, Baylor University’s Marc Ellis and many others.  Several of the anti-Israel activists who headlined the Penn BDS conference will attend next month’s event as well, including Ali Abunimah, Dalit Baum and Sarah Schulman.
The conference program focuses on the inevitability of a one-state “solution” and strategies for overcoming the obstacles that might otherwise prevent it. Based on the speakers list and program, it seems likely that the messages propagated at both conferences will be virtually indistinguishable from one another with regard to their one-sided criticisms of Israel and lack of consideration for the complexity of the conflict.
One other thing to note: In contrast to last weekend’s BDS conference, the “One State” conference is receiving significant financial and institutional support from Harvard, including funding from two university departments, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Office of the Provost.

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