Seattle’s ’Official’ LGBT Group Refuses to Meet Gay Israelis
Seattle's LGBT Commission, which represents the gay community to the city's government, recently canceled a meeting with a delegation of gay Israeli leaders because some members of the LGBT community accused Israel of treating Palestinians poorly, the Seattle Times reported.
The organization planned on hosting a reception with a member of the Israeli delegation in order to discuss gay rights and LGBT issues.
During a commission meeting, a small outraged group accused Israel of "pinkwashing" -- a strategy used to conceal the way the country treats Palestinians by promoting its strong record of gay rights. The organization eventually caved into the group and canceled the reception with the gay Israeli officials and said they were not prepared to deal with "such complex topics."
"We wanted to talk about LGBTQ issues," said Mac McGregor, co-chair of the commission. He voted to keep the meeting. "We weren't prepared to handle the Palestinian question. We are not experts, and we don't pretend to be. None of us wants to choose sides."
Some pro-Israel gay rights groups, such as the California-based gay Jewish group Wider Bridge, do not agree with the term "pinkwashing" and say that Israel has a strong record when it comes to gay issues and does not deny anyone from criticizing its civil-rights record.
"The truth is that Israel is a good place to be LGBT, and it is so because there are countless people within Israel doing amazing, courageous work every day ... saving lives, including the lives of young LGBTQ Palestinians who often have nowhere else to turn," Wider Bridge officials said.
In order to apologize for the cancelation, council members Sally Bagshaw and Jean Godden as well as City Attorney Pete Holmes quickly put together a lunchtime meeting with the delegates. The delegation, which is a part of the Alliance of Israeli LGBT Educational Organization -- a network of group that supports LGBT youth and families, said they were shocked that the commission canceled the reception, the newspaper pointed out.
"We expected from the Seattle LGBTQ Commission a strong declaration of its intent to support all LGBTQ activists, regardless of their color, sex or national origin," the group said in a statement. "Sadly, it appears that the commission, representing a minority that continues to face discrimination, also practices that same discrimination."
The issue has impacted the gay community around the U.S. Nearly 100 protesters recently rallied against New York City's LGBT Community Center for banning Siege Busters -- a group that opposes Israeli's government policies toward Palestinians a year ago. The center also created a policy that bans all organizations that are involved with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gay City News reported.