Days ago, photos of Israeli soldiers in Gaza with LGBT+ pride flags went viral. It is part of the Zionist pinkwashing campaign, which politically uses the rights of diversity to show the State of Israel as respectful of these and, at the same time, justify its genocide against the Palestinian people as obscurantist. According to the murderer Netanyahu, they are “the people of darkness”…
Although homosexual relations are decriminalized in the West Bank, it is true that Hamas and other ultra-Islamist sectors reject the gender rights of women and LGBT+ people, which is part of our global political opposition to their project. What is not so well known is that Netanyahu and the ultra-Jewish parties allied to him have been attacking these and other democratic rights since they were the government in Israel.
At the same time, it is important to know the voices of Palestinian diversity about their reality. There are Palestinian LGBT+ groups such as alQaws (rainbow, in Arabic) in East Jerusalem and Aswat (voices, in Arabic), for lesbians, in Haifa. We reproduce here an interesting text published by @queersinpalestine on November 19.
With genocide, there is no pride!
You’ve probably seen the grotesque images of gleeful Israeli soldiers holding the pride flag over our scorched lands of Gaza that infiltrated social media last week. The State of Israel cynically posts on its Twitter account: “The first pride flag raised in Gaza,” as it continues its genocidal crusade and subsequent Zionist propaganda campaign. We view these images with enormous feelings of frustration and utter disgust, and we see through their despicable tactics of weaponizing homophobia and queer violence for colonial purposes. The following are notes from Queers in Palestine, explaining what these images attempt to achieve and what underpins their production.
1. Zionist colonization is anti-civilization
Colonial and imperial powers have long used their fabricated lies about “civilization,” “rights,” and “democracy” to justify their plunder, military rule, and capitalist accumulation. We learn this from the global histories of European colonization in Abya Yala, Asia, Africa, Turtle Island, Aotearoa and Australia. The Zionist colonization of Palestine is no different. Often the pretext for all these bloody invasions is that the “civilized” world is invading racialized communities to bring culture, education and liberalism and instill them in societies it considers barbaric, immoral and uncivilized.
The LGBT flag imagery is supposedly intended to bring rights and freedoms to Gaza, but ironically the soldier stands atop the rubble of hopes, dreams and human remains of the Palestinians that he and the army he serves bombed moments before. The flag simply reaffirms the simulacrum of colonization, death, white supremacy and destruction.
2. Israel erases Palestinian homosexuality
The images of the Israeli pride flag and the other with the text “in the name of love” send a clear message: Israel will not allow queer liberation unless it is through its colonial genocidal project. To that, we say no! Queer Palestinians have a vibrant and diverse liberation movement that is part of the Palestinian anti-colonial movement.
For decades, we have worked tirelessly to carve out and maintain space for queer Palestinian life among our communities, not despite them. We are everywhere: in schools, streets, prisons, hospitals and at the forefront of every confrontation in every corner of Palestine, from the river to the sea. We are working for a Palestine liberated from colonialism, patriarchy and capitalist exploitation.
3. LGBT darkness in times of hypervisibility
At a time when Palestinians are being prosecuted without trial, student movements are paralyzed and university students suspended and detained, and solidarity with Palestine and Palestinians in general are attacked and criminalized, visibility has proven to be a first line of resistance against the elimination of Palestinians around the world.
In Palestine, Israel’s surveillance apparatus seeks any expression of the Palestinian right to exist as a reason to attack, imprison and murder Palestinian life. This excessive fixation on the supposed lack of Palestinian queer visibility diverts attention from Israel’s campaign against all Palestinians: workers, activists, students, feminists, queers and others. Israel and its allies dangerously decontextualize the violence suffered by homosexuals due to its historical colonial roots and dissociate it from the impacts of current colonial violence.
This is an attempt to portray Palestinian society as unsafe for queers to legitimize the annihilation of our people and, in turn, our annihilation as queers. Under Israel’s surveillance and police state, visibility, darkness and invisibility are survival and resistance tactics that we use interchangeably and are not always a matter of choice. None of us are safe under colonization.
4. These images endanger LGBT people around the world
The pride flag has been kidnapped and homo-nationalized for a long time. It represents a narrow and limited understanding of gender and sexuality and excludes the infinite number of sexualities in the colonized world. This homo-nationalism makes colonized sexual and gender attitudes illegible to the liberal gaze and forces us to speak a language that compromises our experiences. Under nationalist and colonial regimes, our bodies and sexualities will always be regulated.
What the pride flag has now come to represent is commercial, imperialist, and white supremacist sexual ideologies, and this, in turn, puts us queer people in danger. This homo-nationalist project hinders our fight against anti-queer violence within our communities because our identities and sexualities are constantly being hijacked by the empires and colonies that brought us destruction. We need to reject these types of associations that only strengthen queer-phobia in colonized societies, especially during this time in Arab and Muslim communities, when the soldiers and armies that are destroying our homes and killing our parents, brothers, friends and children are doing it in the name of LGBT rights.
5. Colonialism and empire are anti-LGBT
In the past, colonial projects sought to eliminate any system of sex-gender organization that fell outside the European binary male-female patriarchal model. We learn this from the British criminalization of hijra (transvestites) in South Asia, or from British and French social organizing efforts to impose a binary sex-gender system in Yorubaland, or from Portuguese and Spanish efforts to eliminate the “two-spirit” Native Americans, considering everyone uncivilized and in need of external civilization.
This was also the case in Palestine under the British-Zionist military occupation, when same-sex relationships and other gender-diverse practices were criminalized and demonized. All current laws in Gaza criminalizing homosexuality are, in fact, British and backed by Zionism. However, it becomes increasingly absurd that the rhetoric of bringing queer liberation to Palestine has now been hijacked by the Zionists and, for the most brutal of reasons, served in the service of the annihilation of Palestinian life and mass destruction. We, Palestinian queers, position our liberation movement alongside global anti-colonial and anti-racist movements, and firmly oppose any attempt to hijack our movements or exploit our bodies.
In the name of revolutionary love, a love that fuels our struggle for liberation and yearning for freedom, rooted in our love for our communities and our land; we tell them that there is no pride in genocide and there is no pride in colonialism. Our pride can only come from true liberation for everyone, for us and for all the people fighting around the world.