As the weather heats up, it seems that the fevered minds of the anti-Israel crowd are getting similarly overheated. One of its more amusing members is Richard Silverstein , well known for his frequent use of ad hominem attacks against those who dare to disagree with him and whose site promotes Jimmy Carter's "Peace Not Apartheid" book as well as Walt and Mearshimer's "Israel Lobby".
This time Silverstein, in his arrogantly-named "Tikun Olam" blog, takes on the pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs in a rant breathtaking in both its hyperbole and its ignorance. First he compares iPride, SWU's promotion of a pro-Israel message to the LGBT community, to Chabad's attempts to bring secular Jews back to religious observance, as if there is something fundamentally wrong with either one of those. Is Silverstein so afraid of exposing people to traditional Jewish observance, or to the social milieu in Israel that isn't shown on mainstream news media? As far as the latter, he is definitely afraid that this will take LGBT opinion leaders and turn them into "gay pro-Israel Manchurian candidates". Silverstein then goes on to admonish one of iPride's leaders for claiming that "you can't really be gay in the Palestinian territories". Well, if LGBT Palestinians are "free to be", then why are they constantly fleeing to Israel? A cursory Google search of "gay Palestinians" turns up pages of LGBT-oriented websites documenting the oppression of gays whether in the West Bank or Gaza compared to the situation in Israel. I'm sorry Richard, did I miss coverage of the Gaza Pride Parade on al-Jazeera? Can you document ONE SINGLE LGBT rights organization within the West Bank and Gaza? Or even ONE SINGLE openly gay individual there? Oh right, I'm sure you'd blame that situation on "occupation" too.
Finally, Richard gets down to the core of his argument: "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?" So, by his twisted logic, if there isn't full socioeconomic equality for Israeli Arabs (who of course have full and equal civil and political rights unequalled in the Arab world), then absolutely nothing good can be said about Israeli society. Did you check out the US anytime recently, Richard? Because we still don't have full equality for many minority groups, does that mean that we should write off any other measures of social progress? By the way, as soon as you return your home in the Seattle area to the descendants of the Suquamish and Duwamish people who lived there prior to the arrival of Americans, then you can start lecturing to others about their history. Until then, you remain just a hypocrite.
Of course, here in the Bay Area there are a few extremist LGBT groups that are anti-Israel. As one of my fellow activists points out, the "Queers for Palestine" group makes as much sense as a group called "Turkeys for Thanksgiving".
(I wonder if Silverstein knows that among the banner ads that appear on his blog is one for the HAS Advantage credit card-- the free VISA card that not only benefits Israeli charities, including advocacy groups such as HonestReporting, but also lets you build travel credits to Israel faster than most other cards! That is how I got 2 reward trips for my travel next week on El Al.)