Stand With Us is the new Chabad. The difference is that while Chabad inveigles secular Jews to return to their religion, SWU evangelizes a pro-Israel message to Jewish gays otherwise ignorant on the subject. For those not in the know, SWU is a militantly pro-Israel propaganda group here in the U.S. A member of the board of its local Seattle chapter sent me an e-mail saying I should be publicly spanked for my views. And this guy is also a board member of my synagogue, and a social worker at the local Jewish old age home, if you can believe it!
The Jerusalem Post features a mind-boggling story about a new SWU program tied to Israel’s Gay Pride rally which will bring thousands of Jews from abroad to mingle with Israel’s gay community. Roz Rothstein and her fellow SWU Politburo members must’ve thought: “Hey, what better time to convert some of those ignorant, sexually-starved Galut gays to pro-Israelism than this??” Out of this came iPride, which is meant to join the notion of gay pride with pro-Israel pride.
As part of the campaign, SWU is taking a page from the Aipac playbook, bringing 15 key gay opinion-molders to Israel for a round of indoctrination in the guise of studying Israel’s gay culture:
A group of prominent gay opinion-shapers from around the world are to visit Israel to grapple with the country’s sexuality issues on a five-day seminar centering around Tel Aviv’s gay pride parade, scheduled for Friday.
iPride, a project created by international Israel advocacy organization Stand With Us, will begin on Wednesday and focus on showing participants a side to Israel that does not revolve around “conflict” in the traditional military sense.
Instead, the group will hear from speakers discussing the issue of sexuality within Israeli institutions such as government, the IDF and Israeli film, and discover more about Israel’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
The event will bring together around 15 magazine editors, reporters, academics and activists from Harvard, Berlin, the UK, Spain and Italy, including Queer Eye for the Straight Guy presenter Brian Kelly. Speakers at the seminar will include influential figures from Israel’s LGBT community, such as Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz and movie producer and Kochav Nolad (“A Star is Born”) TV judge Gal Uchovsky.
The idea is to improve Israel’s image across the globe, according to Noa Meir, coordinator of iPride.
In addition to the gay Israel mission, SWU has created a fellowship program to groom Israeli leaders of tomorrow to be mouthpieces in the campaign on behalf of Israel’s image at home and abroad:
Meir is participating in the Stand With Us fellowship program, which recruits 20 people on the Tel Aviv University campus and 150 students from around Israel in an effort to groom the country’s future leaders.
Why is SWU doing this? Because they truly want to paint Israel as a shining example of western liberalism and sexual tolerance? Maybe, though I’ve never before known SWU to take any role in issues of gay rights. I think rather, there is a more sinister motive that goes a lot farther in explaining the group’s motivation.
These gay pro-Israel Manchurian Candidates will not merely speak nicely of Israel, they will also, at key junctures, help Israel advance its policy agenda abroad. A perfect example is the current campaign to smear Iranian democracy in the run up to tomorrow’s presidential election. The Israeli foreign ministry is staging mock executions of women and gays out side Iranian embassies in order to point out that the country is a sham democracy and absolutely medieval compared to the west. All this helps Israel soften public sentiment for war. Two key constituencies Israel seeks to draw on board are gays and feminists who they’d love to see leading these demonstrations.
So the SWU project is perfectly timed to that end. Another thing should be pointed out here. SWU, as with other pro-Israel lobbying groups like the Israel Project and Aipac, is not simply a movement of good-hearted volunteers dedicated to Israel. It is a group of professional propagandists whose agenda is closely coordinated with the Israeli diplomatic, military and intelligence communities.
To give you an idea how they fudge when it comes to their true mission, here is what they write at the iPride website about “who we are:”
iPride is an Israeli project under the auspices of StandWithUS – an international, non-profit organization that promotes a better understanding of Israel, through examination of diverse issues.
The StandWithUs fellowship gives Israeli students the opportunity to be active in areas that are close to their hearts, and promote social activism on various levels.
This is rhetoric meant to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting Jewish gays unschooled in the ways of hasbara. It’s precisely the same as the Chabadnik who stops you on Venice Beach and asks you if you’ve laid tefillin that day. They begin with the soft pitch. Later they get to the hard stuff.
iPride supposedly doesn’t touch the hard stuff (has v’halilah) like the Israeli-Arab conflict. Where is the need? They can program that once they’ve reeled you in as a convert:
Although the event deliberately avoids the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the idea for the project was partly inspired by reactions to Operation Cast Lead – specifically one incident in San Francisco which saw a gay group identifying with the Palestinian cause and publicly calling to “free the gays in Israel.”
“We know that gays around the world are liberal usually and they tend to identify with the Palestinians,” explained Meir, “and we find it a bit ironic because you can’t really be gay in the Palestinian territories.”
Meir’s gonna have to tell that to the tens of thousands of gay Palestinians. Tell me: just what the hell does this guy know about Palestinians, gay or otherwise? Gornisht, that’s what.
Let’s close with this delightful paean to the fraudulent dream of Israeli multiculturalism:
“We’re hoping to show that Israel is a liberal country, a multicultural, pluralistic country,” emphasized Meir. “That is a side of Israel we are very proud of and that we think should be shown around the world.
“Unfortunately it’s a side that doesn’t get enough attention… As far as a lot of people are concerned, Israel is Gaza and the West Bank and tanks, and they don’t see the beautiful culture and the liberal side.”
Let me ask one itty-bitty question: how can Jewish gays be truly free at the expense of 20% of the inhabitants who are even less free than they? Not to mention the 700,000 expelled in 1948? Can gays celebrate their alleged freedom to be themselves when millions of other Israelis and Palestinians are disenfranchised? I hope everyone reading this will ponder Michael Levin’s masterful poster above.