‘Pinkwashing’ Op-Ed Misinterprets Gay Rights Victories in Israel
On November 22 I opened the New York Times to read Professor Sarah Schulman’s op-ed, Israel and ‘Pinkwashing.’ The piece attempts to argue that the Israeli government and its tourism bureau have purposefully manipulated the country’s pro-gay rights public policy record in order to deflect attention from other civil and human rights challenges (she specifically mentions Israel’s treatment of Arab Israelis and those who live in the Occupied Territories). If she was trying to be provocative, Prof. Schulman certainly succeeded.
This op-ed has gotten plenty of coverage across the web; bloggers and journalists have examined the logical and factual inconsistencies in Prof. Schulman’s piece, so I’ll let you investigate those on your own. In addition to the facts being bad, Schulman needlessly puts down one group’s successes in order to highlight another group’s struggles.
The fight for equal rights for members of the LGBT community in Israel has neither been an easy nor completely successful battle. As of November 2005, a person in a same-sex relationship can adopt his or her spouse’s child, same-sex couples are allotted most official marriage rights and same-sex marriages performed outside of Israel are recognized by the government. However, these victories were won only after decades of real discrimination, specifically in the face of protests from segments of Israel’s Orthodox Jewish population that continue to publically protest against the LGBT community. While Schulman claims that Israel’s pinkwashing “manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community,” she herself also fails to give due credit to Israeli gay rights activists.
To some, Israel as an entire country must be categorized as good or bad, righteous or discriminatory. This article is just another attempt to discredit Israel by focusing on human rights concerns to the neglect of successes. Why not strive for a more nuanced position: one that recognizes we have an equal obligation to protect Israel’s legitimacy and sovereignty, and to hold the country that is the homeland of the Jewish people to the highest standards of justice and equality?
Picture courtesy of NYTimes.com