An Open Letter to Victor Salvo & The Legacy Project

Hello Victor,
We have been supporters of the Legacy Project’s efforts to memorialize the contributions of LGBTQ citizens.  Your inclusion of African Americans and Latinx citizens has brought recognition to often marginalized people. It is in this spirit that we urge you to include LGBT Palestinians among those struggling not only for their own rights as a sexual minority within their community but also struggling against Israeli oppression.
The organization “A Wider Bridge” that you will soon be teaming with in a forum at the Center on Halsted has tasked itself with highlighting to the U.S. LGBTQ community how well treated Israeli LGBTQs are in Israel. Its unstated goal is to divert attention from Israeli crimes against Palestinians. This is “pink washing” and you are undoubtedly familiar with it. (Often forgotten in this celebration of so-called Israeli benevolence is the ongoing struggle required by Israeli LGBTQs to maintain what rights and privileges they have won against the opposition of Orthodox Jews and other ultra-right Israeli reactionaries).
It is disturbing the number of Americans ─ including those in our own community — who fail to recognize the Palestinians as an oppressed people, a people marginalized in a humanitarian crisis not of their making.  Decades of well financed pro-Israel propaganda casts the Israelis as the victims of Palestinian “terrorism.” To people aware of the decades-long history of Israeli violence against the Palestinians, it is clear who is victim and who is the oppressor.
Increasingly, Jews ─ especially among the youth ─ in groups like Jewish Voice for Peace reject the Israeli “victim-narrative,” and demand justice for Palestinians.  The Chicago Dyke March last summer evidenced many young lesbians and other LGBTQ youth (and older folk who walked with them) refusing to be silent about Israeli crimes against the Palestinians (for information on Israeli treatment of Palestinians, see this Jewish Voice for Peace fact sheet).
Many outside of the US see a clear parallel between oppression of blacks by the former racist South African regime and the oppression of Palestinians by the Zionist government of Israel.  Nelson Mandela said so.  So does Desmond Tutu.  Our politicians, on the other hand, are intimidated by the Zionist lobby into either silence or complicity.

It is all well and good that there are Israeli Jewish LGBTQs who are reaching out to Muslims and Christians. But it is wrong to employ these good deeds to help “pink wash” the daily atrocities and humiliations the Israeli government commits against Palestinians.
Recently, Gay Liberation Network organized a forum on the need for Americans to support the struggle for Palestinian rights, including those of Palestinian LGBTs. We would be happy to join you in a similar forum as a part of the Legacy Live Series.

Truly yours,
Gay Liberation Network

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