[News] Israel’s first trans officer helps with ethnic cleansing
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Apr 13 10:57:42 EDT 2017
Israel’s first trans officer helps with ethnic cleansing
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/nora-barrows-friedman> - 12 April
Queer and transgender activists protested an event
featuring an Israeli soldier in Seattle on 5 April.
The event was supported by the LGBTQ Commission, a body that advises
city leaders on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Two commissioners resigned in protest just days earlier, criticizing the
group’s participation as an act of pinkwashing
Pinkwashing <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/pinkwashing> is a
public relations strategy that deploys Israel’s supposed enlightenment
toward LGBTQ issues to deflect criticism from its human rights abuses
and war crimes
and as a means to build up support for Israel among Western liberals and
Lt. Shachar Erez, who has been in the Israeli army for five years, is
its first transgender officer, according
to /The Jewish Daily Forward/.
He is on a national
sponsored by the Israeli army and foreign ministry.
Erez’s tour is part of the “Brand Israel
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/brand-israel>” campaign, an Israeli
to market a liberal image of the country to advance commerce and tourism
and improve Israel’s international standing.
The tour is hosted by StandWithUs
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/standwithus>, an Israeli
government-funded lobby group
<http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.636953> with ties
to right-wing anti-LGBTQ activists
such as John Hagee <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/john-hagee> of
Christians United for Israel
Along with advising the army’s “gender affairs office,” /The Forward/
reports that Erez works “on a national project to relocate military
bases from the center to the periphery of Israel.”
This indicates that Erez, a commander in his unit, is involved in
helping coordinate the mass expulsion of Palestinian Bedouin communities
from their ancestral lands in the southern Naqab region of present-day
of the “Negev 2020” plan to “develop” the area exclusively for Jews.
Negev 2020 is billed
as creating “the Israel of tomorrow” by the Jewish National Fund
quasi-official, state-backed institution that has carried out operations
to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their lands since before Israel
According to the Jewish National Fund, the plan involves the “relocation
of all the IDF [Israeli army] bases to the Negev,” the region where
indigenous Bedouins are resisting
further forced displacement.
In the early 1980s, the Israeli government confiscated
Palestinian Bedouin lands in the region to relocate an air base from the
Sinai Peninsula, as it withdrew from the Egyptian territory under its
1979 peace treaty.
The government forcibly removed approximately 5,000 Bedouins and
expropriated 16,000 acres of their land, according to Human Rights
Watch. This process of forced removal continues.
Speaking to /The Forward/, Erez claims that “Israel is progressive about
LGBT rights and it has nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian
situation.” The article adds that he “rejects the notion” that the
Israeli army, “which features his story on its website
is using him to deflect criticism about the military’s treatment of
Yet Dean Spade, a professor at the Seattle University School of Law and
a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid
told The Electronic Intifada, “It is disturbing to learn that the
Israeli government is sending a trans Israeli army commander on a public
relations tour in the US, [and] to see this blatant attempt to co-opt
the trans liberation struggle to make a brutal colonial military seem
like a site of diversity and inclusion.”
“How can it be a victory for trans liberation when trans people become
embedded in the most violent operations of settler-colonialism and
genocide?” Spade added. “How can we celebrate trans people clearing the
land of indigenous people, arresting children, maintaining checkpoints
and launching tear gas?”
Battles against pinkwashing
Spade and other anti-pinkwashing activists in Seattle are also dismayed
at the ignorance displayed by city representatives regarding historic
battles over Israeli propaganda.
In 2012, the commission announced that it would host a public meeting
featuring Israeli LGBTQ speakers co-sponsored by StandWithUs and A Wider
Bridge, an advocacy group promoting LGBTQ voices for Israel.
Spade directed a documentary
/Pinkwashing Exposed/, about the efforts by activists to resist the 2012
event and what happened after their success in having the meeting canceled.
“I am extremely disappointed that this is happening again in a city that
has been educated, where the history of pinkwashing is absolutely a part
of the institutional memory of the LGBTQ Commission,” Nada Elia
<https://electronicintifada.net/people/nada-elia>, a Seattle-based
academic and member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural
Boycott of Israel, told The Electronic Intifada.
Specifically, StandWithUs has been exploiting the LGBTQ community to
promote Israel as a queer-friendly place as it strengthens relationships
with ultra-right-wing homophobes and racists, Elia noted.
This exploitation is especially troubling given the current panic by
right-wing politicians over which bathrooms transgender people should
use, Spade observed.
“But on the other hand, the right in the US is also very tied to
uncritical support for Israel, including Israel’s worst actions,” Spade
“That same right-wing is willing to lift up these trans heroes as is
convenient – and to lift up the Israeli military as the site of
liberation and progressive values using the images of trans people,” he
Since the 2012 event, A Wider Bridge has distanced itself from
StandWithUs – with an Israel advocate describing
it as “an ill-fated partnership” – but A Wider Bridge continues to
promote Zionism <http://awiderbridge.org/about/>, Israel’s state
ideology, and to claim pinkwashing
is a “myth.”
Last year, an event sponsored by A Wider Bridge was protested by
activists with Black Lives Matter Chicago, Tarab-NYC – an LGBTQ group
organizing in Middle Eastern and North African communities – and others
over its inclusion
in the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference.
And in 2010, a workshop on LGBTQ liberation in the Middle East, led by
StandWithUs, was shut down
by queer Arab activists at the US Social Forum.
Seattle’s LGBTQ Commission voted against a public invitation for a
screening of Spade’s /Pinkwashing Exposed/ in 2015, but accepted the
invitation to participate in a roundtable with the Israeli officer.
“So we know that the commission is in a position to decline events, even
events by their own local constituents,” Elia said.
About a week before this month’s event with the Israeli officer, two
members of the LGBTQ Commission resigned.
“We all have issues that we stand for and for me I stand for the
boycott, divest and sanctions movement. For me, it is an issue similar
to South Africa apartheid,” Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter wrote her
colleagues in a resignation letter on 28 March.
“I personally stand against the genocide of Palestinian people and
cannot support militarized efforts or military personnel regardless of
gender identity, gender expression, or sexuality or other identity
markers,” Carpenter added.
In discussions with the other commissioners about her opposition to the
event, “I stated everything that I could possibly state about this
particular issue,” Carpenter told The Electronic Intifada.
Carpenter said she was frustrated that the commission was not able to
“hold onto the history” and explained that she will remain a
Yani Robinson, another member of the LGBTQ Commission, confirmed to The
Electronic Intifada that they also resigned in protest of the Erez
event, but will continue to urge the commission to screen /Pinkwashing
Meanwhile, Bridge Joyce, a former commissioner implored the body to
focus on issues facing queer and trans members of the Seattle community,
including LGBTQ youth homelessness, gentrification, transphobic and
homophobic attacks and police violence.
“I am at a loss to see what policy issue relevant to Seattle’s LGBTQ
folks that the commission is addressing by this event,” Joyce wrote in
an email to current commissioners seen by The Electronic Intifada.
“Participating in an event designed to glorify the Israel Defense Forces
aligns the commission with values that are directly at odds with the
racial justice and social justice values claimed by the City of
Seattle,” Joyce added.
After protesting the Israeli soldier event, activists say they are
mobilized against what they see as deepening relationships between
Israel advocacy groups and the city’s mayor, Ed Murray.
Murray, who is gay, traveled to Israel in 2015 on a junket
paid for by the Israeli foreign ministry. There, he delivered the
keynote speech <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S_DhInzn7M> at a
conference co-organized by A Wider Bridge. He will accept an honor
<https://www.facebook.com/events/236493096825183/> from StandWithUs’
Northwest chapter at a gala next month.
Spade sees ample opportunities to strengthen coalitions in support of
human rights and pressure city representatives not to take the bait from
“A big part of this is both helping queer and trans organizations be
more prepared to identify certain propaganda and also increasing
educational resources to be able to respond,” he explained. “Our work is
a continuing work.”
/Nora Barrows-Friedman is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada./
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News