Pro-Gay and Anti-Israel? ‘Pinkwashing’ to the Rescue


What’s a pro-gay, anti-Israel activist to do when faced with the fact that the Jewish state is the only nation in the Middle East in which not only is it illegal to discriminate against homosexuality, but where homosexuality is celebrated with an annual gay pride parade? To such activists, the answer is obvious: invent a bogus theory called “pinkwashing” that accuses Israel of touting gay rights in order to downplay its alleged oppression of the Palestinians.

The University of California, Los Angeles’s Center for Near Eastern Studies recently jumped into the fray with a lecture comically titled, “Pinkwashing: Gay Rights and Queer [sic] Indigeneities” (the term “indigeneities,” an invented piece of academic jargon, is derived from “indigenous”). In a sparsely attended presentation rife with post-colonialist rhetoric, Nada Elia, a professor of gender and global studies at Antioch University in Seattle and a member of the organizing committee of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), attempted to align her support for “Palestinian queer activism” with her devotion to all things anti-Israel.

Stating up front that she prefers to be called a “scholar-activist,” Elia wasted no time describing Israel as “a settler-colonial power that violates human rights” and therefore, “has an image problem.” Despite the multicultural and multi-religious nature of Israeli society, she maintained that “a Jewish state is an exclusive state,” and that:

As [Israel] persists in its desire to be a Jewish state, it can only indulge in image-fixing . . . to cover up for the crimes it is unrepentant for.

In order to achieve these nefarious goals, Elia claimed Israel, “uses ‘gay-friendly’ as a mask to distract from the reality.” Worse, she noted, referencing a quote from Wayne Firestone, the president of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life, “the Foreign Ministry [Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs] is sending out the ‘cool, hip people’ to distract from the reality of war.” She lamented that this “propaganda” is only “fixing the image, not the policies.” Never mind that Israel truly is a bastion for “cool, hip people” in the region, as its thriving economy demonstrates; to tell the world as much is considered criminal.

Pointing to the efforts of the Israeli government, Israeli and American citizens, and the Brand Israel group, a volunteer coalition of marketing and communications executives, to draw attention to Israel’s vibrant society, Elia concluded, “This is where the gay market comes in.” Although Israel is by no means the only nation or entity to engage in “gay tourism” and “gay marketing,” she attributes sinister motives to an endeavor that, as she put it, presents Israel as “gay-friendly, unlike the homophobic Palestinians. Israel is civilized; Palestinians are barbaric, homophobic.” Perhaps she should ask gay Palestinians themselves, particularly those who have found acceptance and safety in Israel—limitations based on security concerns notwithstanding—just how “homophobic” their culture really is.

Elia referred to the experience of “queer Palestinians” on several occasions, but only to bash Israel:

Israel may be gay-friendly for tourists, citizens . . . but not for Palestinians. Israel is the greater purveyor of institutionalized violence regardless of sexuality. . . .  The queer Palestinian community in Israel has long known that it is disenfranchised not because it’s gay, but because it’s Palestinian.

This claim conveniently omits the grisly details regarding the “institutionalized violence” and “disenfranchisement” meted out to gays in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including honor killings by and of family members, jail sentences for sodomy (which was decriminalized in Israel in 1987), abduction, torture, rape, and murder.

Tacitly acknowledging the danger to gay Palestinians accused of collaboration, Elia still blamed Israel:

A lot of queer Palestinians are suspected of being collaborators. There is some degree of truthfulness because Israel knows—every Palestinian is spied on somehow— if there is suspicion that a Palestinian is gay, they are arrested and then recruited. They threaten to ‘out them.’ This increases the homophobia. It’s aggravating the circumstances of gays in Palestine.

Anti-Israel activists have been plying this conspiratorial charge for years, but Menachem Landau, a veteran of Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency quoted in a 2003 Reuters article, questioned the logic at hand: “Gays are already treated with suspicion in Palestinian society. So what good are they for covert work?” Moreover, Palestinian police have been known to torture gays into spying on other homosexuals, while Palestinian terrorists groups—much as they do with “dishonored” women—have tried to coerce them into carrying out suicide bombings.

Elia’s criticism of Israel even extended to gay rights, as she claimed that, “pinkwashing denies there is homophobia in Israel.” Yet she admitted, in a rare moment of lucidity, that “I don’t know any country where there is no homophobia.” She later described “pinkwashing” as a “twenty-first century manifestation of the Orientalist agenda” and, alluding to Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden, added:

Prior to that colonial powers pretended to save brown women from brown men. Now it’s a matter of saving the brown gays from, primarily, the brown men. It’s the burden of the white gay international.

Actually, it’s left-wing academics such as Elia who see the world in “brown and white” terms.

Beyond peddling the “pinkwashing” meme, Elia proffered a revisionist history aimed at delegitimizing Israel. She denied that, “coming out of the Holocaust [Jews] had to find a safe place,” and instead cited “European” and “imperial expansion” as the impetus for Israel’s founding as a “colonialist-settler movement.”

Claiming, against all evidence, that the “Zionist narrative” viewed the early Arab inhabitants of Palestine as a “subhuman people who shouldn’t exist,” Elia invoked the well-known phrase—originated by nineteenth century Christian writers—“a land without a people for a people without a land” to imply that the early Zionists set out to destroy a civilization. In fact, Jews and Arabs coexisted in the region, despite tensions, long before Israel’s founding and could have done so afterward had the Arabs accepted the offer of their own state in 1948, or some of the many offers spurned since.

Elia ascribed malevolence to Israel’s founding and repeated the thoroughly debunked anecdote about two rabbis who, following a fact-finding mission from Vienna to Palestine in the late nineteenth century, were said to have sent back a cable reading, “The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.” That the story has no basis in history was either unknown or disregarded, both by Elia and her audience, which judging by its behavior during the question and answer period was made up primarily of sycophants. It included two academic members of the USACBI “organizing collective” who share Elia’s anti-Israel views: Sondra Hale, professor emerita of anthropology and women’s studies at UCLA, and Sherna Berger Gluck, professor emerita of women’s studies and history at California State University, Long Beach. Elia was in her element.

No audience member asked an obvious question: In light of Israel’s purported “settler-colonialism” and “pinkwashing” and the discrimination gay Palestinians face in their own society, what are the alternatives? Had they done so, Elia might have elaborated on her utopian proposal, outlined in the lecture’s announcement, for “a queer state, which allows individual citizens to define themselves as they wish, without losing power, entitlement, or safety.” Given the reaction that a Jewish state has elicited in the region, one can only imagine how a “queer state” would be received. Yet Elia and her fellow travelers prefer a fictional “queer state” to an actual country where gays are welcomed—a sure sign that, for them, bigotry trumps reality.

NB: If you wish to make your views known to University of California, Los Angeles Chancellor Gene Block, he can be reached at:

Email: chancellor@ucla.edu
Phone: 310-825-2151
Fax: 310-206-6030

The office of Antioch University Seattle President Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet may be contacted at:

Email: cmanuelito@antioch.edu
Phone: 206-268-4105

Reut R. Cohen (www.reutrcohen.com), a journalist, researcher, and photographer, co-wrote this article with Cinnamon Stillwell, the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at stillwell@meforum.org.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.  

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "The queer Palestinian community in Israel has long known that it is disenfranchised not because it’s gay, but because it’s Palestinian."

    Or because they're jihadis? Or are we talking about the imagined disenfranchisement that can be blamed on anyone?

    • Mark

      All Israeli gays, Christian, Jewish , Muslim or of any religion or of no religion are free to live their lives openly and are protected by Israeli law. Women are also protected from discrimination. No Arab country allows gay rights! Leftist academics such as Elia hate Israel and find fault with the West in all things political. They are a pampered group of Jew haters including Leftist Jew haters and self hating Jews and liars disguised as academics . The fact is that Arabs still treat black people as slaves in countries such as Saudi Arabia. They never mention that it was British Imperialism that carried out an all out war against the slave trade. Arabs continued to enslave black Africans, Slavic people and others long after the British Imperialists put an end to the slave trade on the high seas. Arabs continued to engage in the slave trade via land routes and by using very small boats. In German colonies in Africa, any man caught engaging in the act of selling slaves was shot on sight. Alia and her like are determined to paint all Western action as bad and they conveniently ignore or whitewash Arab slave traders and the long history of slavery in every nation in the world until the British Imperialists took action to break the back of the slave trade wherever they could after a long struggle by the abolitionist movement to turn the British public against slavery and Queen Victoria against the horrors of slavery. Attacks on gays are today illegal in all of Western Europe and the U.S. and most of the world. But not one Arab or Muslim country officially allows any form of freedom for gays let alone allowing Gay Pride Parades or open gay enclaves or gay activity.

    • ksp48

      There is no Queer Palestinian community, at least not in Palestine, where being gay is a hanging, throat slitting offense.

  • Chezwick

    Reminds me of the feminist academic who once blamed the misogyny of Islamic culture on the "trauma of colonialism". That's right folks, Muslim men of our era beat and sometimes kill their wives because of the depredations of colonialism 75 years ago. Of course, we can thus infer that in the 16 centuries of Islam BEFORE colonialism, Muslim men NEVER mistreated their women…..(or if they did, it was for inexplicable reasons).

    The whole thing is so mindless as to be a joke…except that many of our young people are imbibing this mindlessness, some via force-feeding, others willingly and with absolute gusto. It's enough to make one want to cry…..or alternatively, to drink. Instead, I'm going to jog a mile and a half to clear my head.

    • Chezwick

      12 centuries that is….I added 2 instead of subtracting.

  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    To tear this insidious, hateful, inciting campaign from its roots, whether they focus on "pinkwashing' or another calumny, the ISM has to be targeted, and its leadership held to account – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/02/28/the-assorted-

    The ISM, and its varied terror hydra, is the (US) source. It is its essence. Its oxygen.It must be cut off.

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

  • defcon 4

    And allah knows best doesn't he?

  • cxt

    Except Israel IS by and large, "civilized" while many Palestinians ARE "barbaric and homophobic."

    It is why I'm often so set against the Left–for all to many Lefties all to many to times—-their ideology trumps reality. case in point htis article—-their irrational hate towards Israel–a disguised/sublimatted Anti-Jewish bigotry IMO–causes them to "explain away" why gays can live openly in Isreal yet live in mortal fear everywhere else in the Middle East. One group puts specific rights for gays in their legal system the other group frequently quotes relgious texts that call for gays for the killed–and then KILLS GAYS.

    Yet oh-so-many-Lefties STILL manage to spin the facts and create new reasons to hate Jews.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Except Israel IS by and large, "civilized" while many Palestinians ARE "barbaric and homophobic." "

      But leftists try to imply that these are unfounded opinions based purely on racism. In other words, look no further because we found the root of the conflict and Islam is a religion of peace. Israelis are simply racists who hate peaceful jihad murderers.

  • reader

    "That you tell you people something."

    Oh yes. Tell me who your friend is… Homosexuals siding with the islamists are schizophrenics, just like you are.

    • BS77

      Don't reply to De Shawn….it's like arguing with a bug.

      • gee59

        Flag all of his racist/homophobic comments

  • EthanP

    Thes gay activists are "leftists" first. It's the leftist in them that hates Israel not the gay in them. Ordinary gays are no more against Israel than any other Americans.

    • Mary Sue

      Leftism causes everybody who immerses themselves within its ideological poison will regularly vote against their own actual interests.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        "Leftism causes everybody who immerses themselves within its ideological poison will regularly vote against their own actual interests."

        They're all convinced that the world needs to come together to deal with the "most serious threat" which is of course those conservative radicals who love the US constitution.

  • Ar'nun

    So if Israel by accepting Homosexuals is "Pinkwashing" then is it safe to say that in Islamic countries where homosexuals are often stoned to death they are countries that are "Stonewashing" gays???

    Someone should ask some gay people if they would prefer to be "Pinkwashed" or "Stonewashed"…

    • kafir4life

      I guess President Stinky (bo) is pinkwashing then.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Someone should ask some gay people if they would prefer to be "Pinkwashed" or "Stonewashed"…"

      That's actually a funny pun.

  • Ar'nun

    It does tell us something (even though you can't articulate it well.). It tells us that you and your boyfriend don't like Jews.

  • Mary Sue

    Why are you a racist?

  • stern

    Oh dear tabban. You do, of course, realize that you have just committed yourself to a very special kind of hell, multiplied. You see, there's the regular hell, reserved for those who hate and slander G0d's chosen people (remember "I will bless those who bless you (Israel) and curse those who curse you". And you have also entered the hell that will be inflicted upon you by the politically correct hordes of every Western society. Arguably, the second hell is even worse than the first.

  • JHoward53

    The problem with the glib tossing around of expressions like "anti-Israel activist" is that you lose your grip on reality. I am often so labeled by the uncritical Israel firsters (another glib expression) who regard every critic of Israeli military occupation of 3 million Palestinians as both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel. I don't happen to be gay, but if I were, I don't understand why I might not have the same acceptance of homosexuality alongside my total condemnation of Israel's policies toward the Arab natives of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. What is the connection between progressive attitudes toward differences in gender preference and intolerance toward Arab opponents of Zionist's determined reach for Eretz Yisrael? You're either totally deluded on the matter or you are up to your well worn tactics of diversion through creation of straw men.

    • reader

      " I am often so labeled by the uncritical Israel firsters (another glib expression) who regard every critic of Israeli military occupation of 3 million Palestinians as both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel."

      Oh, how smooth. A lie wrapped up in a victimhood veil. From this sentence alone, one can infer that you lie about the Jews of Israel, for all intents and purposes you deny them the right to have their own state and you demand for parts of the region to be Judenrein. That's pure Jew hating.

    • gee59

      Might be because you make moronic statements. Like the lie " every critic of Israeli military occupation of 3 million Palestinians as both anti-Semitic and anti-Israel" The ARAB occupation of our lands is illegal and we are not going to allow the Arabs to steal more land that belongs to somebody else.

      The Arabs aren't the native population – Arabs come from ARABIA and have ethnically cleansed and murdered tens of millions of native people and stolen their lands. They have already stolen 99.93% of the land in the Middle East – we are keeping the last 0.07% regardless of what ignorant people like you think. It's not yours, nor Arab land – it's our land and that is backed by every history book and international law on the subject in the world

      • Mr. Polly

        That's right, Arabs took over the land centuries ago, therefore it really belongs to Russian and Polish Jews and such. Can't argue with that logic.

        • reader

          You can't argue with your own straw man? That's what the straw men are for. By the way, Mark Twain did not find too many Arabs there, according to his notes. Perhaps, he was a Russian and Polish Jew in disguise himself.

        • Laura

          What is your point? People all over the world immigrate to different countries. Why is there something sinister about European Jews immigrating into Israel?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            "What is your point? People all over the world immigrate to different countries. Why is there something sinister about European Jews immigrating into Israel?"

            Because racists will use any angle to show some flaw in their own racist logic and then project that on to their targets.

            Nations are about culture, not DNA. Yet you still hear the same German Nazi racist arguments even from jihadis who in other arguments talk about how we all come from Adam (who they also claim was Muslim but that's another chapter in the saga).

          • gee59

            Tell that to Muslims – they only allow other Muslims to immigrate to their 56 countries.

        • Lan Astaslem

          why don't you just grow a pair and say what you mean – that you hate Jews.

        • defcon 4

          Um, the entire Mid-East was part of the Ottoman Empire, there were NO self-governing Arab states at all prior to WW1, under the Ottoman Empire, and no such land as "Palestine" either.

        • Drakken

          They came, they saw and they conquered, and your butt hurt because the muzzys lost, oh well,to the victors go the spoils.

    • Laura

      The Jews ARE the native people of Israel. To deny that and pretend they are colonial invaders is indeed antisemitic. You pretend that you are merely being critical of Israel when in fact you advocate the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their native land. There's no getting around that this is antisemitic.

    • Rifleman

      Speaking of lost grips on reality, Israel pulled the IDF out of Gaza and the West Bank years ago.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "I don't happen to be gay, but if I were, I don't understand why I might not have the same acceptance of homosexuality alongside my total condemnation of Israel's policies toward the Arab natives of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem."

      We're maybe critical because you condemn Israel without justification?

      "What is the connection between progressive attitudes toward differences in gender preference and intolerance toward Arab opponents of Zionist's determined reach for Eretz Yisrael?"

      Is it "progressive" to lie?

      "You're either totally deluded on the matter or you are up to your well worn tactics of diversion through creation of straw men."

      You can't actually back up your opinion with facts that are also true. You need to lie or repeat the lies of others.

    • Mary Sue

      you have got to be kidding me.

      Do you know NOTHING about the muslim extremism that fuels the Palestinian Organization? The outright flipping NAZI IDEOLOGY?!

      If the Arabs were just peaceful farmers of camels and camel turds, and didn't hate jews with every fiber of their being because their Prophet TOLD THEM TO (seriously look it up, it's in the Koran and the Hadit), there wouldn't even be a problem.

      • defcon 4

        While farming camel turds might not be fruitful, camel urine is very healthy and prophet recommended!

  • Amy W

    A Jewish state is "exclusionary" even though people of any religion are allowed in and there are churches, mosques, and a huge Bahai temple. But they are fine with Saudi Arabia which does not allow Jews, and any non-Muslim religious practice must be hidden.

    • ksp48

      Israel= 21% non-Jewish
      USA =about 10% non Christian
      Cambodia =bout 10% non Buddhist
      India=about 15 % non Hindu
      Saudi Arabia = 0% and 0 absolute non Muslim
      Jordan =0% and 0 absolute jewish
      Arafatland = Judenrein and fast becoming Christianrein.

  • Rifleman

    Some folks are just suicidally stupid. They hate America and Israel so much they'll even side with the poster children of all they claim to abhor, over us who tolerate them.

  • Drakken

    Here is a novel idea, lets send those gay activist to Saudi to really show their support for arab causes, now you will have to pardon me while I get out the lawn chair(with umbrella of course) and my favorite bourbon and watch the show. Darwin at his finest, nothing like a cold taste of reality to show them the error of their ways.

    • defcon 4

      Yes these pinkwashing idiots should all hold gay pride parades in Tehran, Karachi, Mogadishu, Cairo, Gaza and Riyadh. They should make these gay pride parades a surprise event as well. I'm sure it'll be great fun for everyone and a real surprise for the pinkwashers!

  • Parenthetical Phrase

    If there is a holocaust against "queers", I'm going to respond by yawning. Sorry guys and gals but politics is a two-way street. I will vote against gay causes as long as gays vote against Israel. Let gays and lesbians go live in the gayest country in the world (so I've read): Saudi Arabia. Gender apartheid has its consequences, I guess.

  • Softly Bob

    Queers for Palestine, Gays against Israel, I've said this before – Turkeys for Thanksgiving!

  • ksp48

    My very favorite group of useful idiots is Gays and Lesbians for "Palestine. "

  • Luke James

    You are real sad person = any homosexual person would back the nation that backs them . It is Palestine that has the death penalty for homos not Israel = you anti Israel nuts = sad and bad at the same time = sick .

  • Pelo Nord

    I hear the Gay Pride march in Gaza was a huge success…;)

    • Wayne

      Maybe it could have been if its population wasn’t locked up in a
      concentration camp waiting to be exterminated, courtesy of “Israel”.

      • Pelo Nord

        What’s Israel waiting for? Surely with all their weapons they could have the Gazans ‘exterminated’ in a few days. Only that’s not the aim – but you knew that already. Hypocrite.
        Maybe it’s time for gay supporters of Hamas to re-think their sexual orientation – it would please Muslims around the world no end. Do it and do it now – anything less shows your lack of support for the cause.

  • April Lamba

    The left are very anti-Jew, and always have been. They now are happy to be able to hate Jews in secret by hating Israel. You will never hear the left condemn and fight for black Sudanese in Sudan, or Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, or the killings in Syria by rebel Islamists, or women oppression in Iran etc. Assad and the rebels are both killing more Syrians than Israel (and all Israel’s attacks are counter-strikes). Remember Europe was the country that harbored Hilter, I really doubt any of them coming to Israel’s defense like Canada. And America has more anti-Jew hate growing there too.