SAN FRANCISCO — A vote by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to support a Gay Pride celebration in Jerusalem, Israel, has sparked criticism from gay groups that oppose Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories. They have announced a boycott of the celebration, slated to take place in the contested city of Jerusalem on August 18-20, saying Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians make a mockery of the theme of the event, “love without borders?”.
“The Board of Supervisors took a closer look at Israeli democracy, what they would see it borders without limit,” charged Kate Raphael-Bender of San Francisco-based QUIT, a lesbian/gay/bi/trans group that supports return of the territories occupied by Israel to Palestinian control. “No city in the world could have more borders than Jerusalem,” she added. Raphael-Bender said those borders are constantly encroaching further and further into Palestinian territory, and are enforced by military checkpoints and cement walls. “Israel’s borders are impenetrable to Palestinians, and keep many separated from their homes, jobs and families,” she added. Raphael-Bender noted that gay Arabs are likely to hit a wall if they try to join the festivities in Jerusalem. Not only Palestinians but all Arabs are routinely denied entry into Israel.
QUIT urges gays and lesbians to observe ongoing international boycotts of travel to Israel and Israeli products through which the international community can exert pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from Palestine. “For internationals to stay away from this event will send a very clear message to the Israeli government,” Raphael-Bender said, noting that the situation was different for gays in Israel. Both QUIT’s counterpart in Israel, Black Laundry, and the Palestinian lesbian group Aswat will participate in the event but plan to use it to draw attention to the injustices Palestinians are subject to under the brutal Israeli occupation.
Early supporters of the boycott include: American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Francisco Chapter (ADC-SF) Jews for a Free Palestine LAGAI — Queer Insurrection Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) Queers for Peace and Justice International Socialist Organization.
The boycott of World Pride in Jerusalem, kicked off by QUIT! and other LGBTI groups in the U.S. is gaining momentum, even as the SF Board of Stupervisors passed a resolution yesterday supporting it.
QUIT! has produced a 15-minute video to counter the one produced last summer by bluestar promoting World Pride. QUIT!’s “Love Without Borders?” piece presents the true image of Jerusalem, a city divided by a 25-foot concrete wall, which has caused death and destruction in Palestinian communities for the last two years. The full video is available from the QUIT! website.