Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Palestinian Gays under the Hijab" by Nisreen and Dayna

I am posting here Nisreen Mazzawi's outrage at the refusal to allow gay Palestinian leaders speak at the recent rally in Tel-Aviv.

August 16, 2009

"While we all are shocked by the shooting attack at the gay youth center in Tel-Aviv last week, that as result of it 2 young people lost their lives, Palestinian lesbians ans gays need to face both the homophobic street and the racist leaders of the Israeli gay community who refuse to give the stage for Palestinian speakers, neither for the former member of the Knesset, Issam Machool, nor for representatives of Aswat--Palestinian gay women's group based in Haifa. For the organizers and by their words, "they can't go as far as this."!!!

What do they mean, by going "going as far as this?"!!!

While in the world the legend of the democratic country of the middle east keeps announcing its jingles regarding the tolerant city Tel Aviv that provides a shelter for the Palestinian gays running from their society and families,the Palestinian gay community and supporters are excluded on purpose from public events specifically from the solidarity anti-homophobic demonstration held yesterday in Rabin Square.

Although the stage was full of politicians, a few of them known as homophobic ones, the majority of the gay community in Israel believed their struggle has nothing to with "politics;" this is what explains the instant need for 'social peace,' that a gay activist and victim of the attack talked about, to distinguish it from the other peace, supposedly the 'bad' one, the forbidden peace.

Living in a conflict zone where people die and kill every day and violence is everywhere makes people less sensitive to violence surrounding them, less sensitive to gender violence, killing of women, to xenophobia, to racisms and to other's lives. This is how a thousand people and more can be killed in less than one month in Gaza and all keep silent.

While the Israeli society, including the Israeli gay community, choose to ignore the increased level of internal hate and violence affected by the level of the occupation and its violence, this violence keeps increasing and infecting others. Instead of facing this problematic and complicated situation, the leaders of the gay community chose to exclude Palestinian gays and their supporters and to push them back into the closet. This is easier and goes hand in hand with the legend the government creates and promotes.

The highlight of the event was the presence of the Israeli President Shiman Perez showing public solidarity to the gay community. Despite his former homophobic record, by his sentence 'we are the do-not-kill,' he re enforces the public blindness to the mass killing of Palestinians that occur often and frequently by the government of this country...

For the Palestinian gays who live and struggle for their lives under the occupation, Tel -Aviv is not an alternative or a safe shelter. The few who succeed in making their way to Tel-Aviv end up living and working in the streets...

In fact, for the Israeli gay community and its leaders, the Palestinian gays including those who are citizens of Israel are excluded and not welcome. The leaders prefer to keep them in the closet, to push them back there and this way they can keep telling their legend the way they like. If it was up to them, they would put them under the Hijab...This way they can be the only ones who can tell how Palestinian gays and lesbians look and they will have a good excuse to attack and occupy their countries and societies as they believe they are the protectors of freedom.

While we believe homophobia is equal to racism and hate is equal to murder and murder is equal to murder, the majority of the Israeli gay community choose not to see the link and to ignore other kinds of violence abundant in the Israeli society.

The killings broke the image of the paradise for gays in the Middle East, and as a result it created a wave of worldwide international solidarity. Seeing all these people going out in solidarity make us wonder regarding the message of this unity. Is it mourning the loss of the non realistic image of the gay paradise in the Middle East or is it a call for raising voices against homophobia infecting all the societies around the world?'

copyrighted by Nisreen Mazzawi, feminist activist for peace and environmental-social justice, August 16, 2009

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