About two dozen Palestine solidarity activists interrupted a speech by the Israeli ambassador to Germany at the Christopher Street Day LGBTQ parade in Berlin on Saturday.
The protest, organized by Berlin Against Pinkwashing, included banners visible in the video above that read “2,300 dead in Gaza, You can’t pinkwash this.”
Pinkwashing is the term critics use for Israel’s hasbara (propaganda) strategy of painting itself as LGBTQ-friendly to deflect criticism of its human rights abuses and war crimes against Palestinians.
Pinkwashing practitioners hope to win friends for Israel among liberal and progressive constituencies where support for boycott of the country is growing.
In the video, Israeli ambassador Yakov Hadas-Handelsman touts the Tel Aviv gay pride which he says was attended by around 100,000 people.
“I am sure that many of them came from Germany,” he said.
However he abruptly ends his speech. The man next to Hadas-Handelsman looks embarrassed during the Palestine solidarity chants but continues waving a small Israeli flag adorned with rainbow colors.
Berlin Against Pinkwashing said activists decided to stage the protest after a petition signed by 150 people calling on parade organizers to rescind the invitation to the Israeli government official was ignored.
The group decided to “challenge the event directly,” it says in a press release, and “to make their voices heard and object to the co-option of what is supposed to be an international day against inequality and state oppression.”
“The bombs falling on Gaza don’t differentiate between queers and non-queers,” Berlin Against Pinkwashing activist Malek Hamza said.
“The despicable policies of the Israeli state make it one of the most anti-human regimes in the world,” Hamza added. “Yet the organizers of Christopher Street Day insult the legacy of Pride events by covering up this reality.”
An independent UN Human Rights Council inquiry into Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer, published last week, found extensive evidence of war crimes approved by Israel’s leaders at the “highest level.”
More than 2,200 Palestinians including 551 children were killed and much of Gaza was devastated. There has been virtually no reconstruction due to Israel’s ongoing blockade of the territory that is home to 1.8 million Palestinians.
Early Monday, Israeli forces seized a boat in international waters carrying 18 activists trying to reach Gaza by sea.
A week ago, the Israeli embassy in Berlin held a closed briefing session for Israeli journalists.
Embassy spokesperson Adi Farjon told the journalists – in Hebrew – that it was an Israeli interest to preserve German guilt feelings about the Holocaust, according to a report in Haaretz.
“We were all in shock,” a female journalist present at the briefing is quoted saying. “The spokeswoman clearly said it was an Israeli interest to maintain German guilt feelings. She even said that without them, we’d be just another country as far as they’re concerned.”
Israel’s use of LGBTQ issues in its propaganda appears to be no less cynical than these kinds of statements.