Recent human rights abuses by Israel in the Gaza strip has Israel facing backlash throughout Europe and Latin America, however the LGBT community remains divided on the subject in the United States, but why?
Israel’s recent offensive attack on Hamas terrorists in Gaza has left at least 1836 people dead. Estimates of innocent, civilian causalities ranges from 50-77% including 330 dead children. Israel claims asymmetrical warfare justifies their actions but fewer and fewer people are convinced of that. Many look at Gaza and see targeted killings of innocent civilians at UN shelters, schools, hospitals, ambulances and thousands of Palestinian homes. In April 2013 Israel stated that it was phasing out the use of white phosphorus munitions whose use during it’s 2008-2009 offensive in the heavily populated Gaza strip drew war crimes allegations.
Targeted or not the world is watching, reacting and condemning Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated, “Israel’s actions is a moral outrage and a criminal act” and “Yet another gross violation of international law” The U.S State Department denounced Israel’s shelling of a UN school with one word “disgraceful” France, Spain and other European countries have also spoke out and published warnings urging citizens to boycott Israel businesses and a recent poll in Britain found 2/3 of people thought Israel was guilty of war crimes. Bolivia, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela also condemned Israel’s recent actions, in fact El Salvador, Chile and Peru have called back their ambassadors from Israel. When Brazil condemned Israel’s actions, Israel foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called Brazil “A Diplomatic dwarf” in response. Four days ago Spain froze military exports to Israel.
However many Americans seem unmoved by the recent Israeli offensive and even defend Israel’s actions as legitimate because “the war on terror”
Without questioning media bias we accept the corporate media’s narrative of good guy VS bad guy without ever asking questions, checking our nationalism or getting to the core of the problems. If we took the time to investigate we might discover what I believe to be the truth: Palestinians are suffering horrific human rights abuses right under our noses. In fact Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have sounded the alarm and people like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter have described the situation in Gaza by saying “Apartheid in Gaza is far worse than it ever was in South Africa”
Palestinians are forced to suffer hunger and freezes to average workers salaries They have no running water or electricity and no freedom to come and go as they please. Some people have even described the Palestinian people as living in a large open prison.
One of the goals of the LGBT movement is to infiltrate every culture and society globally to expand human rights and equality. So how are we supposed to lift fellow LGBT people up and give them a voice in Gaza and Palestine if they are living under oppressive occupations in war zones? We can’t, not as long as occupation and dropping bombs persists. Some people argue that the Arab world is inherently anti-gay and therefore not worthy of our attention. I argue that if any group of people have proven it’s possible to change a culture from the inside out its LGBT people and the social media machine behind us.
Al-Qaws for sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society is a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer Palestinian activists who work collaboratively to break down gendered and hetero-normative barriers. Al-Qaws seeks to create an open space for all its members so that they may be engaged and energized in the struggle for equality and inclusion. PQBDS ( Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) formed from within Al-Qaws and targets the Israeli governments pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is a part of the bigger “Brand Israel” campaign which aims to divert international criticism from human rights abuses and to whitewash its crimes by promoting itself as a safe haven for gays.
Ghaith Hilal is a queer Palestinian activist from the west bank who has been a part of Al-Qaws leadership since 2007. In his article 9 Questions Palestinian queers are tired of hearing; Hilal suggests that being out, pride celebrations and other western ideas of equality come secondary to living under decades of long military occupation. Hilal states “You cannot have queer liberation while apartheid, patriarchy, capitalism and other oppressions exist”
Hamas was elected by the people of Palestine after urging from the United States to hold elections. When winning party emerged with a primitive army Israel and the United States (Bush Administration) turn around and labels them ‘terrorists’ Israel has continued to take land and resources from their brown skin neighbors while the United States turns a blind eye and continues to hand over $3 billion a year to Israel’s military which kills innocent people. Israel defends itself when it shoots down incoming rockets using Iron Dome. So the fundamental question becomes does Israel have the right to use so much force punishing it’s neighbors? The United States has used it’s veto power 42 times to trump the UN’s actions on Israeli abuse of power. Will we do it again?
The business of war is profitable. Fresh out of Iraq and not yet out of Afghanistan a war weary public and President have had to fight off military interventions all over the globe from conservative warmongers with a financial interest in promoting war. (Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, John McCain) In 2011 the 100 largest contractors sold $400 billion in arms and military services. In 2000 the U.S. defense budget was approximately $312 billion by 2011 that figure had grown to $712 billion. Arms sales among the top 100 companies grew by 51%
We’ve been down these warmongering roads before. The government and media lead us straight into Iraq on false information connecting Iraq and 9/11. Hillary Clinton’s vote supporting an illegal war in Iraq maybe one of her biggest obstacles to overcome assuming she runs for POTUS. Wherever you stand on the issues peace loving voters; LGBT activists especially, must do a better job of defending global human rights by searching for all perspectives and demanding military restraint from politicians who casually send other peoples kids off to war while beating the war drums.