The American magazine The Advocate
just published my letter in regards to James Kirchick's inflammatory and factually-incorrect commentary piece
, which I commented on before here
. I have to admit one mistake, though. The original interview
with Rauda Morcos spelled her name correctly. Kirchick then spelled it incorrectly, as Marcos, as if she were Spanish. I didn't notice this and misspelled her name, too. Oops! Anyway, here's my letter:
I take extreme issue with the commentary piece by James Kirchick published on you website on July 11 entitled "Palestine and gay rights". I feel that it is biased, one-sided, and gives a gravely inaccurate portrayal of the situation of gay people in the Palestinian Territories.
Primarily, I am concerned about Kirchick's treatment of Rauda Marcos from her interview with the Advocate on May 23. He's correct in his condemnation of "culturally relativistic posturing", but may be mis-analyzing her assertion. She is probably saying that Western countries are able to deal with gay issues as matters of higher priority because they are not facing occupation, high unemployment rates, lack of education, and other issues which, frankly, are more pressing. This can lead to a different "scale". It's clear from the interview that Marcos's English is far from perfect, and Kirchick affords her no leeway.
Secondly, I am horribly disappointed by Kirchick's blind bias towards Israel, painting it as a bastion of gay rights in the Middle East, which it certainly isn't. He fails to acknowledge many of Israel's major shortcomings, including anti-gay members of the Knesset, the stabbing at last year's Jerusalem Pride parade and threats of violence at this year's World Pride, the shunning of Dana International when she visited the Knesset, and many other factors. Worst of all, he fails to acknowledge the systematic abuse of gay Palestinian youth by Israeli intelligence.
Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, published an article called 'Queen Hussein' which documented the workings of the Israeli government. It says: "The Israel Security Service (Shabak) cynically uses Palestinian homophobia and coerces gays to choose between recruitment in its ranks and forceful outing. Most Palestinian gays choose the first option in order to save their lives. As such, every gay is considered a potential collaborator."
There are numerous other articles which attest to the same situation, and I personally have friends in Palestine who have told me of similar experiences. Kirchick says, "Unfortunately, Marcos appears to be a woman so blinded by her ethnic nationalism that she is unable to appreciate the advantages of Israel's liberal society. " It seems the reverse may be true of Kirchick, who is too blinded by his love of Israel to write objectively. Throughout his short journalistic career, Kirchick has continually written pro-Israel pieces, and it seems his vision has become clouded. This is shown by his blatant implication that Marcos is anti-Semitic, which he has no real proof for, and his constant allusions to the Palestinian Authority murdering gay people, which is horribly inaccurate, and unfounded.
I am not writing this because I am anti-Israel, or because I believe the Palestinian Territories are better for gay rights than Israel. I recognize that Israel is far ahead of the Palestinian Authority in these respects. But slandering the few pro-gay activists in the Arab World and falsely portraying Israel as a shining haven for gay people not only severely clouds the truth, it supports the prejudice that Arabs are backward and barbaric.
Thanks, Mike Davis, for suggesting I write them! I feel better now!