Phan Nguyen exposed a good deal of the seamy underside of the StandWithUs-Ministry of Foreign Affairs pinkwashing campaign here in the Pacific NW that ended with the Seattle city LGBT Commission cancelling a gala reception it had planned with an Israeli LGBT delegation brought here to showcase Israel as a haven for gay rights (in opposition to the supposed repression of said rights in the Arab world). The Seattle city commission took this action after a hearing at which proponents and opponents of the visit by the Israeli delegation got to air their views. Opponents did not object to meeting with the Israeli delegation. They objected to the government funding of the tour and the political/hasbara ramifications that went along with such funding. Jewish Voice for Peace, which led the call for cancelling the meeting said:
[Seattle] Jewish Voice for Peace activist, Wendy Elisheva Somerson, pointed out that we are not against dialogue, and would be happy to hear stories from Israeli LGBT activists, were they not funded by the Israeli government and Stand With Us…
At the end, Standwithus and the Israeli NW Consul General Akiva Tor were aggrieved at this supposed racist assault on free speech:
LGBTQ Commissions, members of a minority group that has been fighting for years for equal civil right and against discrimination, decided to discriminate itself, denying these incredible visitors the chance to meet simply because they’re what? Israelis. So LGBTQ leaders in Seattle discriminate based on national origin.
Of course, the problem isn’t at all with the fact that the Israeli delegation was Israeli (“national origin”), but rather that it was promoting the Israeli gay brand. And that the tour was part of a promotional (i.e. hasbara) campaign about which the Israeli foreign ministry has publicly boasted. This is confirmed on the ground here in the NW by the fact that the Israeli LGBT participants were accompanied here by Rob Jacobs, SWU’s NW director. The Israeli consulate chaperone for the group had been a Standwithus Israel Fellow before joining the MFA.
Another gay organization that was ready with a widely distributed press release attacking the Seattle city commission was Arthur Slepian’s, A Wider Bridge. It sponsored the entire west coast tour of the Israeli gay delegation. Although the group’s mission is ostensibly to highlight the Israeli gay community and its fight for civil rights, these comments in the group’s statement affirm it’s broader pro-Israel/anti-BDS agenda that goes far afield from gay issues:
“Their [Israeli LGBT] voices have been silenced in Seattle by those who seek to demonize and delegitimize Israel, and who are willing to throw the Israeli LGBT community under the bus in the process.
He’s also written this sack of lies about the motivations and mission of BDS:
The Boycott Israel (BDS) movement is about nothing less than the destruction and de-legitimization of Israel, which is why the vast majority of Americans, LGBT people, and San Franciscans oppose it.
Thus you’ll find it no surprise that Slepian is a lay leader of the San Francisco Jewish federation. E-mails exchanges and other documents an activist has found online indicate that Slepian closely coordinates his anti-BDS activism in the San Francisco gay community with Jewish Community Relations Council director Doug Kahn, Israeli consul general Akiva Tor, and other key pro-Israel activist leaders.
What’s especially interesting about the SWU pinkwashing campaign is that the group’s founder, Roz Rothstein has looked passionately into the eyes of John Hagee, Chrisitian Zionist leader and thundering homophobe. She liked what she saw. SWU and Hagee’s group, Christians United for Israel are bosom buddies in the war for Israeli dominion over God’s Holy Land. She has keynoted CUFI events and spoken on panels with Gary Bauer, Rick Santorum and Hagee. These are guys, of course, who love gays to death.
One wonders how she would square her ardor for homophobe Hagee with an op-ed she wrote for The Advocate in which a major reason she offered for opposing the Palestinian bid for statehood in the UN was that gays would be oppressed in the new state. You see there’s a problem with working both sides of the street and being candid with neither side. At the end, your ostensible allies on both sides may abandon you. Unless of course they’re just as hypocritical and opportunistic as you are (which is a distinct possibility).