Saturday, March 17, 2012

Seattle LGBT Commission Cancels Pinkwashing Event

 Seattle LGBT Commission Cancels “Pinkwashing” Event Sponsored by Israeli Consulate – Events in Olympia and Tacoma Also Canceled

[16 March 2012] The Seattle LGBT Commission has voted to cancel an upcoming event being sponsored by the Israeli Consulate and right-wing Israel advocacy group Stand With Us. The event, scheduled for March 16th at Seattle City Hall, is part of a west coast tour designed to build ties between the Israeli government and LGBT communities. These connections are forged largely in an attempt to distract from Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine. The practice is otherwise known as “Pinkwashing.”

According to Nada Elia of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, “Pinkwashing is part of ‘Brand Israel,’ an Israeli governmental public relations campaign. This initiative seeks to distract from Israel’s violations of international law and the inalienable human rights of the Palestinians by touting itself as a haven of human rights for LGBTQ people.”

The decision to cancel the event was reached after testimony presented by Palestinian and Jewish LGBTQ community members who were concerned that the Commission chose to align itself with the Israeli government. "The city of Seattle prides itself as holding anti-racism and social justice principles in its mission, and tonight the commission affirmed those values," said Selma al Aswad, a Palestinian-American and LGBTQ rights activist.

The LGBT Commission joins the Oasis and Rainbow Centers of Tacoma and Kitzel’s Delicatessen in Olympia in canceling events scheduled for this week. The events were co-sponsored by Stand With Us, a right-wing Israel advocacy group that is often criticized for anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiments within its official publications and outreach material.

Elizabeth Moore, member of the Olympia chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, stated, “Stand With Us has been behind many attacks within our community, including aiding in the lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-op. We will not allow them to continue to intimidate and divide our community, and we will not support events that aim to normalize Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

The organizing around these events was led by a broad array of local activists and organizations throughout the Puget Sound, including local Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapters. JVP is the largest national Jewish organization that provides a voice for Jews and allies who believe that peace in the Middle East will be achieved through justice and full equality for both Palestinians and Israelis. With offices in New York and California, 100,000 online activists, chapters across the country and an Advisory Board comprised of numerous prominent Jewish thinkers and artists, JVP supports nonviolent efforts here and in Israel-Palestine to end Israel’s Occupation, expand human and civil rights, and implement a US policy based on international law and democracy. 


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