March 20, 2012
Seattle panel nixes meeting with Israeli gays over ‘pinkwashing’
A Seattle commission that represents the gay community canceled a meeting with gay Israeli leaders over Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
The Seattle LBGT Commission canceled the March 16 City Hall reception the night before after pressure from some members of the gay community, who said that Israel is touting its good record on gay rights to hide what they called its poor treatment of Palestinians, according to the Seattle Times. The action is called “pinkwashing” in pro-Palestinian circles.
An event in Tacoma also was canceled, while one in Olympia was moved to a nearby synagogue due to opposition from the gay community.
The Israeli group, part of the Alliance of Israeli LGBT Educational Organizations, a network of groups that support LGBT youth and families, also met with groups in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The commission said in a statement that its decision to cancel was not an easy one and that its meeting on March, “we heard the passion and pain from all in attendance.”
“This decision in no way endorses one group or opinion,” the statement said. “Our decision is entirely based on the fact that as a volunteer-run organization, the LGBT Commission does not feel thoroughly prepared to facilitate an event surrounding such complex topics at this time.”
Seattle Council members Sally Bagshaw and Jean Godden and City Attorney Pete Holmes held a lunchtime meeting with the visiting Israelis.
In a statement, the Israel group said it expected the Seattle LGBT Commission to make a strong declaration of its intent to support all LGBT activists regardless of their color, sex or national origin.
“Sadly, it appears that the commission, representing a minority that continues to face discrimination, also practices that same discrimination,” the Israelis said.
The National Council of Jewish Women condemned the cancellation and called on the Seattle commission to reverse its stance and apologize to its Israeli visitors.
“The commission yielded to a small minority of local LGBT proponents of boycotting Israel, apparently because some commission members wanted to avoid controversy,” NCJW CEO Nancy Kaufman said in a statement issued Monday. The Israeli group, she said, “seeks nothing more than an exchange of views on how best to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people.”