Thursday, February 24, 2011

NYC's LGBT Center Reveals Bias

Something bogus is happening at the NYC LGBT Center:

Sherry Wolf is a member of the Siege Busters Working Group, which was planning a "Party to End Apartheid!" for Israeli Apartheid Week at the LGBT Center, where they'd met regularly since last summer.

Then, pornographer and ardent pro-Israel Jew Michael Lucas complained on Tuesday about the event, it was canceled, and Siege Busters was evicted from the Center.

Wolf, a long-time and well-known activist for both gay rights and socialism, talks to Runnin' Scared about her 23 years of being active at the Center, now being labeled an anti-Semitic Jew, and having her group kicked out without so much as a phone call.

Part of what enrages Wolf is that the Center didn't even bother to contact the group. (The Center said in a statement, "When one group's meetings or activities interfere with the Center's focus on our core mission, we reserve the right to ask this group to move." The Center didn't mention that it had played host to an Israeli Apartheid Week event in 2008.)

Follow the link above to read the interview with Wolf. You can also read more of what Michael Lucas said and the Center's short response on the issue here.

I haven't written much about my views on Israel and Palestine in this blog. Though I definitely hold opinions on the issue(s), I don't feel my personal views (or anyone else's, really) are that relevant here. It seems to me that if what Sherry Wolf is saying is true, then it was inappropriate of the Center to cancel this event. If the Center has allowed other potentially politically controversial events to take place, and it lets groups meet there that are not specifically LGBTQIA in focus, then their actions against this group are unfair. Furthermore, it seems ridiculous to evict the group based on one complaint when they'd been meeting there for months already.

So, is New York City's LGBT Center's plan simply to avoid all controversy in the future and cancel everything that might be offensive to someone? Or is it simply to cancel that which doesn't fit in with the current political status quo...? Or is it to follow the money? Or all three?

It can't be all or nothing. Voluntarily claiming the title of "LGBT safe haven" means the Center must be a safe haven for all, not just for those who are in power. Either you welcome the diversity of queer voices on this issue, or you stay out of it completely.

One more thing: this whole casual usage of "anti-Semitic" in reference to anyone who is critical of Israel has got to stop. The last time I checked, questioning - and seeking the most socially just path - were both incredibly important Jewish values. Whether or not one agrees with the Siege Busters, anti-Semites they are not. Sorry.

P.S. A note to Wolf: I heard a rumor there are also bisexual Jews in addition to gay, lesbian, and transgender ones. I heard this blogger might even be one. I also heard that "gay and lesbian" is not the same thing as LGBT. Just something to keep in mind, maybe, when you're making general statements about queers (and oppression, and privilege, and pinkwashing, and all those sorts of things).


bacci40 said...

allow me to explain,

when those in your community, blind themselves to the attrocities committed against gay people in the arab and muslim world...just so that they can attack israel and used trumped up charges of apartheid...that borders on antisemetism....and it doesnt matter if members of that group include jews...many jews throughout the ages have been terrible antisemites.

but, if that group wishes to organize a gay pride parade to march down the center of gaza city...i will be happy to donate and raise funds for such an endeavor.

and as im sure they all support bds...well, now they have experienced exactly how bds should and will work.


The Bi Avenger said...

Hi bacci40,

I appreciate that you took the time to share your input on this issue, and I thank you for reading. However, I've got to say I find your necessity to leave an "explanation" both condescending and short-sighted.You've assumed that since I don't support the Center's actions, I must need an explanation of why the political views of Wolf and the Siege Busters group are wrong. I don't, because those are two separate issues.

I didn't want to get into an in-depth discussion of personal views on Israel/Palestine (as I said) and I still don't think it's necessary. All I was saying is that it's unfair for the Center to take a partisan view on this issue. The Center should either support a diversity of views on the topic or they should stay out of it in the first place. Much as you and others might not want to see this as more than a one-sided issue, it is. Human rights violations on the part of Arabs/Muslims are not enough of a justification to take a side, either, considering that Israel is no saint when it comes to the treatment of queer and trans people... or, uh, Palestinians.

One thing that I cannot forget to mention: I will not tolerate the misuse and abuse of a term such as anti-Semitism in the comments or posts of this blog. It is inexcusable to me to throw this term around lightly (which is exactly what is happening when it's implied or stated that Wolf and the group are anti-Semites). Please refresh yourself on the definition and implications of anti-Semitism before commenting again.

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