FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
USACBI Press Contact: email@example.com
Seattle Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace Press Contact: Wendy Somerson 206-226-9218
Olympia Press Contact: Anna-Marie Murano 360-402-0794
[16 March 2012] The Seattle LGBT Commission has voted to cancel an upcoming event being sponsored by the Israeli Consulate and right-wing Israel advocacy group StandWithUs. The event, scheduled for March 16th at Seattle City Hall, is part of a West Coast tour designed to build ties between the Israeli government and LGBT communities. These connections are forged largely in an attempt to distract from Israel’s ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine. The practice is otherwise known as “Pinkwashing.”
According to Nada Elia of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI): “Pinkwashing is part of ‘Brand Israel,’ an Israeli governmental public relations campaign. This initiative seeks to distract from Israel’s violations of international law and the inalienable human rights of the Palestinians, by touting itself as haven of human rights for LGBTQ people. Joel Lion, Israel’s consul for media affairs in New York City, recently acknowledged ‘gays are actually one of our target markets.’ USACBI organizes to educate people about such hasbara (propaganda), so that queer allies are not co-opted into the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The decision to cancel the event was reached after testimony presented by Palestinian and Jewish LGBTQ community members who were concerned that the Commission chose to align itself with the Israeli government. “The city of Seattle prides itself as holding anti-racism and social justice principles in its mission, and tonight the commission affirmed those values,” said Selma al Aswad, a Palestinian-American and LGBTQ rights activist.
The LGBT Commission joins the Oasis and Rainbow Centers of Tacoma, and Kitzel’s Delicatessen in Olympia, in canceling events scheduled for this week. The events were co-sponsored by StandWithUs, a right-wing Israel advocacy group that is often criticized for anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiments within its official publications and outreach material.
Elizabeth Moore, member of the Olympia chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, stated, “StandWithUs has been behind many attacks within our community, including aiding in the lawsuit against the Olympia Food Co-op. We will not allow them to continue to intimidate and divide our community, and we will not support events that aim to normalize Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”