Israel: Queer activists say ‘not in our name’

Israeli queer activists organised a protest on April 29 in front of the Israeli foreign affairs ministry in Jerusalem to protest against an “Israeli LGBT Festival” being organised in San Francisco called “Out in Israel”. The US event is funded by the Israeli consulate and Jewish organisations' together with support from the Israeli foreign affairs ministry.

In a statement released by protest organisers on April 28, queer activist Elinor Sidi said: “Israel is using this festival to rebrand itself as a liberal and open state. We as human rights activists refuse [to accept] that gay rights will be used as whitewash for human right violations against the Palestinians.

“Israel is not liberal and not open.”

Elisha (Shuki) Alexander, a transgender activist, said: “This is a unprecedented move where a foreign country funds a gay festival in the US, in order to promote — not the queer community here in Israel, but it’s own self image.

“This kind of move hides the violence in the Israeli society, and the discrimination and oppression the Israeli LGBT community suffer from, especially the transgenders.

“This festival hurts our cause and community. Israel is not only not liberal, it is also unsafe for queers, as there are hate crimes, and violence against gays.”

Ido Katry, also a transgender activist, said: “The partial success of the gays in Israel, is no excuse for the human right violations in the occupied territories, is no excuse for the occupation, and surely does not turn the state of Israel, or the Israeli society, liberal.”